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I saw a Forbes click bait story on Facebook about THE thirteen “habits of exceptionally likable people.”

Just to be obstinate, I refused to click the link to discover what the Forbes blog writer had to say about his or her perspective on these life lessons.

13 Characteristics of a Likable Personality

Likable-Personality

Instead, I decided to create my own list based on the likable people I have had the blessing to meet throughout my life. Based on those experiences and life lessons, someone with a likable personality:

  1. Is comfortable with themselves.
  2. Possesses a sense of wonder.
  3. Is interested in many things and does not fixate on narrow topics.
  4. Radiates energy and a positive spirit.
  5. Has an open mind.
  6. Is adept at self-deprecating humor.
  7. Smiles at others.
  8. Instinctively knows when you need him or her to be around.
  9. Is happy to see you.
  10. Tells you nice things about you that you did not even know yourself.
  11. Listens intently.
  12. Laughs readily.
  13. Will go out of his or her way for you without mentioning it later.

That list reflects the characteristics of someone with an exceptionally likable personality in my book.

What does your list look like?

And how many of your most likable characteristics do you display yourself? Maybe THAT is the most important question!  – Mike Brown

 

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We are working with a client to develop a content marketing strategy for multiple business units in the organization. The first step was for our client to talk with the presidents of the various business units to understand their strategic objectives. With that information, we will be in a strong position to identify a content marketing strategy specific to each business unit’s needs.

In Search of Strategic Objectives

One business unit president described his objectives as including employee retention, improving a critical aspect of the brand experience, and addressing a significant cost area. During the discussion, he apologized for not having any strategic objectives. He reported being too focused on near-term issues to have developed any strategic objectives to tackle.

His comment prompted a question from our client about whether something was wrong with the conversation since it did not lead to identifying any strategic objectives for the business unit.

My response was the conversation was incredibly successful and yielded exactly what we were seeking. For each area the president listed, there were natural content marketing opportunities.

Strategic-Objectives

What are Strategic Objectives?

Why didn’t the business unit president realize he had strategic objectives on his list? Why didn’t he see initiatives tied directly to the brand, its people, and significant factors for its financial success as strategic?

My suspicion is the business unit president didn’t think he had strategic objectives because nothing addressed growth, innovation, or things that would only come to fruition years in the future. It seems evident that he operates under a mistaken belief about what is strategic and what is not. He is not alone; many executives labor under that misunderstanding.

3 Helpful Questions

We have covered ways to identify what is strategic using various questions and criteria. This new situation suggested a three-question exercise to identify likely strategic initiatives and objectives. Simply ask these three questions about an opportunity:

  • If we do not pursue it, will its absence be widely noticeable?
  • If we do pursue it, will its impact be widely noticed?
  • If the underlying situation or opportunity is ignored, will it create significant issues?

If you get three “Yes” answers, it is a safe bet you have a strategic issue on your hands. Two “Yes” answers suggest a borderline strategic issue. If you cannot justify even one “Yes” to the three questions, it is likely not a strategic issue.  – Mike Brown

 

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What’s the story on the innovation strategy for beer?

The Kansas City American Marketing Association monthly lunch addressed that question. Former Vice President of Innovation at Anheuser-Busch, Pat McGauley, shared stories of his past twelve years creating the company’s innovation team.

Rather than playback the various innovation strategy stories Pat McGauley shared, here is a sampling of quotes and points he made that stood out as great thought starters:

Not all innovation strategy inside a company is created equal.

Pat’s innovation team was responsible for product and packaging innovation. He reported that packaging innovation was more difficult to develop than liquid innovation. Based on comments he made regarding working with retailers on in-store shelving, product innovation may have been easier because it might lead to a fight for shelf space. Packaging innovation, on the other hand, could require making the case for a different shelf entirely.

Not all innovation teams are created equal.

Pat formed two innovation teams. One focused on near-term innovation strategy and the other on filling the three-to-five-year innovation pipeline. While the two team approach was designed to keep the longer-term team from getting pulled into today’s fires, it presented challenges. The long-term innovation strategy team became too disconnected from current activities shaping the future environment its innovations would face. Both teams, however, were detached from the brand teams to minimize the pull toward shorter-term brand priorities.

Innovation-Strategy-Checkli

“If you have a whole room that thinks the same, you don’t need all those people.”

He was speaking to the choir about the need for diverse participation and varied inputs to trigger ideas. Their global innovation team went to Korea in 2015 to look for inspiration.

How you frame the question shapes the innovation strategy opportunity.

On a market segmentation chart, Pat was making the point that there are multiple ways to grow from innovation. Sometimes it’s grabbing share from competitors in your category. In other situations, it’s grabbing share from substitutes for your category. The chart drew the distinction between these “share of beer” and  “share of throat” opportunities. That’s an intriguing categorization you could apply to many businesses to point innovation opportunities in different directions.

“Sometimes a company needs something that the consumers don’t need.”

In covering a few  innovation failures, Pat talked about Anheuser World Select. As he put it, “Anheuser-Busch needed an import beer, so we created a fake import.” The company had become enamored with trying to solve the problem of not having an import, but consumers had access to import beers. They didn’t need an inauthentic version from Anheuser-Busch.

“Renovation is putting new coats of paint on big brands.”

Pat credited InBev (which merged with Anheuser-Busch in 2008) with introducing the idea of renovation to the organization. The innovation team spent 15% of its time on core brand renovation to enhance competitiveness.

3-Innovation-Strategy-Tiers

A leading company shunning innovation is “like someone hugging a block of ice.”

You can hang on to a block of ice (representing a core capability) and refuse to move away from it, but eventually the block of ice is going to melt and disappear. Pat pointed to Jeff Bezos as a CEO with a contrasting perspective. He is always on the lookout to disrupt Amazon before the next Amazon does it.

Lackluster innovators can catch up quickly.

One chart depicted (I think) growth factors in the beer market from 2012 to 2014. In 2012, competitor innovation accounted for just 5% of growth in the beer market; Anheuser-Busch was the overwhelming leader in innovation-driven growth. By 2014, competitor innovation represented 35% of beer industry growth. – Mike Brown

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I fielded a request for a few ideas on social engagement for an upcoming eBook an online company is creating. One of the questions related to how brands can set themselves apart through a customer experience strategy and outstanding customer engagement.

Our focus is often on creating memorable event-related experiences. Shifting the focus to ongoing customer engagement, however, necessitated a different look than the one we’ve used for years in designing events. While surprise is an important element in creating memorable event experiences, customers aren’t typically looking for surprises in more routine customer service situations.

Brand Expectations and Experience

Noodling the answer to the question further, I sketched an x-y chart comparing customer expectations vs. the nature of the customer experience. This customer experience strategy framework is a variation on how we’ve been thinking for years about developing memorable event experiences.

Social-Engagement-Matrix

The horizontal axis looks at how expected a particular customer experience, showing a range from completely expected on the left to completely unexpected on the right. For the vertical axis on the nature of the customer experience, the bottom label is “Routine” and the top label is “Delight.” The idea here was to describe the range of audience reactions to a brand’s customer engagement.

At a first pass, this framework seems to address the range of experiences a brand might seek to deliver on an ongoing basis.

Start with the lower left quadrant. These are Expected and Routine experiences. In this quadrant, a brand has to get social engagement basics right every time with incredible dependability.

In the upper left, the Expected/Delight quadrant is where customer loyalty programs function. A customer with strong, positive brand behaviors has a history with your brand and expects a certain level of delight in any experience with your organization.

The bottom right quadrant (Unexpected / Routine) might be one that’s frequently overlooked. It’s the opportunity to create a pleasant surprise for a customer during a routine interaction. One example might be the bakery that occasionally and somewhat randomly gives you a free donut because you’re a familiar face, not because of a loyalty program.

The money quadrant is the upper right – that’s where a brand delights a customer in a completely unexpected way. In this area, a brand engages with customers in a fashion consistent with the brand experience, but does so by going above and beyond. These situations create high-impact, memorable moments for audience members. These engagements wind up in business magazine brand profiles and case studies!

Remember, This Is from the Brainzooming Labs

This is a first pass. We’ll be incorporating it into workshops and client sessions to test how beneficial it is as a customer experience strategy framework for generating new ideas!  – Mike Brown

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise eBook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE eBook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!





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You know, this week doesn’t have to be as unproductive as last week, what with business meetings going nowhere along with wasting time, positive energy, and any hope of creativity.

The thing is, there’s a different way to structure business meetings to help a group come together and collaborate in an innovative, productive way.

We create these types of radically different (and beneficial) business meetings for clients, in large part, by bringing together the right people in the right settings with the right structure to allow them to be productive and successful participants.

If you’re up for abruptly halting the cluster f%@k of the modern business meetings you attend, contact The Brainzooming Group? We’ll figure out how to turn insights, ideas, and initiatives into realities that actually move your business ahead!

Brainzooming-Not-Cluster

 

 

 

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10 Lessons for Engaging Your Employees to Create Stronger Results

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Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

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The search term “strategic visioning exercises” has been consistently near the top recently for what has bringing people to the Brainzooming website. Whenever a regular pattern such as this one surfaces, we like to share a compilation post bringing together a variety of our top resources in one place.

14 Articles on Strategic Visioning Exercises

While it’s easy to knock vision statements (including core purpose and mission statements) as so much useless corporate jargon and gobbledygook, we’re firm believers in them – when they are done well.

And by done well, we mean that the vision statement:

  • Is developed broadly and collaboratively
  • Emerges from a thorough exploration of where the organization is and where it wants to go
  • Uses language that is simple, understandable and sounds as if it comes from the organization

These fourteen articles recap our thinking and recommendations across these three areas.

Clouds-Vision

Collaborating on a Vision Statement

Strategic Visioning Exercises to Create a Vision Statement

Checking Vision Statement Clarity and Impact

Many organizations struggle with the idea of collaboratively developing an overarching vision and vision statement.

If your organization falls in that category, contact The Brainzooming Group and let’s discuss how we can help you move through these and other strategic visioning exercises to create a vision and approach to move forward! – Mike Brown

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10 Lessons for Engaging Your Employees to Create Stronger Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

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Our buddies at Armada Corporate Intelligence addressed what sections you should include in your go to market strategy plan in their “Inside the Executive Suite” feature. They highlighted ten different sections to include your strategy plan. (Note: If you want to learn more about the Armada Executive Intelligence Brief system and get in on this great publication for an incredibly low monthly rate, please visit the Armada website.)

Go-To-Market-Space

10 Sections Your Go to Market Strategy Plan Should Include via Armada Corporate Intelligence

AEIB-GraphicThe term “go to market” strategy cropped up perhaps fifteen years ago. In b-school and for years in the business world, we created “marketing” plans. Maybe consultants coined the new term. We see the difference between a marketing plan and a go to market strategy focusing on how the latter incorporates an understanding of customers, what attracts them, and what a brand does to introduce and win share with a successful product or service. (For brevity, we’ll use “product” to represent both products and services from here on.)

We haven’t found a perfect list of what a go to market strategy incorporates. The list here, however, is what we’ve identified and used. It’s a starting point to adapt from as you work on bringing new product initiatives to market:

Target Market

You need to communicate the primary targets you are trying to reach based on a product’s design, intended experience, and marketing. “Everyone” is not an answer to describe the target market. You should pursue a definable, distinct portion of the available audience. Although targeted, it needs to be large enough to deliver on revenue and profit objectives. When targeting multiple groups, communicate which one is the primary target versus others you might include in your marketing.

Brand Strategy

This isn’t just about logos, advertising, and colors. That’s only a part of brand strategy. The go to market strategy should address alignment between your employees, product quality and experience, audience communications, and everything else reinforcing your brand and how you’ll introduce and market a new product. The brand strategy sets guidelines for the go to market approach and provides a platform for new, smart ideas to integrate the product within the overall brand.

Positioning & Messaging

Positioning addresses where you want to place your product in the marketplace relative to competitive offerings. The position (and messages conveying the position to the market) should be distinct versus competitors’ market positions. Developing a product’s ideal position incorporates what the target market expects and will accept from the brand. It also includes what customers will reward through positive buying behaviors. Articulating the position is a start; the remainder of your go to market strategy addresses delivering on the position daily.

Value Proposition

A value proposition can take various forms. Two common elements are needed irrespective of the format. Initially,  the value proposition must clearly communicate how customers, through using your product, will receive more in return than the sum of what they paid and the other “costs” associated with using it. The other essential is the value proposition isn’t just a statement. It must translate to real world product purchase, use, and support experiences.

Sales and Distribution Channels

This covers the varied means of selling and getting the product to customers. It could include strategies for direct sales, inside sales, inbound marketing, wholesalers, distribution partners, alliances, affiliates, etc. It also incorporates all the elements necessary to support channels and relationships, including recruiting, hiring, training, tools, deployment, and the supply chain.

Customer Touch Points

You won’t just reach customers through the sales and distribution channel touchpoints. This strategy component addresses how the product will rely on direct and indirect online contact (web, social media, content), front line service providers, the customer service team, and any other places where you expect customers will interact with your brand and form perceptions about the experience.

Pricing Strategy

The pricing strategy must fit with all other sections to strategically and effectively support the market position and value proposition. It’s impossible to cover creating a pricing strategy in one paragraph. There’s one common trap, however, we see trip up many companies: the pricing strategy may have nothing to do with the production costs. Pricing isn’t necessarily your cost plus a certain percent added as a mark-up. You develop a pricing strategy to support the right value proposition in the marketplace; getting costs in line to support that position is a separate issue.

Marketing Communications Strategy

As with brand strategy, many executives incorrectly think this is the only part of a go to market strategy. Within this section, make sure you have the right mix of online presence and content, advertising, collateral, event marketing, public relations, and internal communication to support the product’s position and intended messages.

Supporting Technology and Systems

More than ever, technology is an integral part of developing and launching products. Smart marketers invite the IT team to the table early when planning a new product. They can help identify innovative ways to use technology to maximize the customer experience and improve efficiencies that create a more attractive cost position.

Metrics

Whether at the start or end a go to market strategy, develop and refine relevant metrics throughout creating the approach. Rather than simply including only sales units, revenue, and profitability targets, metrics should be in place to help identify progress and challenges during the entire implementation process. – Armada Corporate Intelligence

 

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Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Contact us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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