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If you’re trying to create strategic change in an organization having a sense it knows the right way to do things and an even stronger perceived handle on which things are important to do and not do, what is the best change strategy?

Is it better to do a two-step sale or a one-step sale to get the go ahead for strategic change?

This strategic pondering emerged from several Brand Strategy Conference presentations this week.

BrandStratConf

Strategic Change Management in 1 or 2 steps?

There were discussions during various Brand Strategy Conference presentations about how you get an organization to understand branding, design thinking, or social media. The premise, understandably enough, is you need to win the organization over to a belief in the overarching concept before selling-in the related strategic change associated with embracing the concept.

This is what I’d call a two-step sell: sell the concept, then sell the specific strategic change.

A one-step sell would eliminate the separate first step of selling-in the overarching concept. Instead, you would simply start selling-in the strategic change that is needed by linking it, as best possible, to things the organization already believes in and supports. The idea is you may be far better off to not telegraph strategic change by either creating or acknowledging the hurdle of getting the organization to accept a big concept as a precursor to change.

For instance, if you’re trying to implement stronger and better branding in an organization that doesn’t get what brand is, you could start with aspects of brand building start where agreement to do something already exists. If product quality or customer engagement is something the company has been addressing even though it doesn’t completely understand branding, how about simply launching brand strengthening quality or customer engagement changes you align with more familiar initiative? You wouldn’t even have to mention the “B” word, especially if it were likely to just muddy the waters.

Think about this strategic thinking question this way: if you’re dealing with small minded people, are you better off to give them small ideas to consider rather than a huge, unfamiliar idea?

If you think you might be, a one-step strategic change cell may be exactly the approach to pursue.

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You want input from your employees and partners on your branding strategy, but you cannot afford the risk of the input getting out of control.

Why the big risk?

DSCF6618

You are two-thirds of the way toward finishing your brand strategy development. And, while you are seeking input from others, you cannot afford the input to needlessly and non-strategically unwind the branding strategy work you have already finalized.

One option is to not seek any input. Another is to stipulate to certain topics are off limits. Another is to have a town hall type meeting (a few individual speakers with lots of listeners) so people have to acknowledge (if they’re being honest) they were in the room as the branding strategy was discussed, even if very few of them had a chance to offer ideas.

All of those options are weak.

Not soliciting input sets you up for multiple issues, including looking as if you are trying to hide something. Taking certain topics off the table makes it OBVIOUS you are hiding something. Holding a town hall meeting runs the risk of exposing your most negative and toxic audience members to the widest possible audience.

3 Ways to Invite Productive Branding Strategy Input

The far better alternative is bringing your larger audience together and maximizing the benefit of the input they provide through several techniques:

  • Have them work in small groups (which you assign or let naturally develop) so each person have a greater opportunity to contribute.
  • Give them specific questions to respond that focus on areas where you need input you can actually consider and incorporate.
  • Provide a way to capture their input and conversations in a way they can easily share it with you.

Using this type of approach, you can focus interested brand participants on topics that are additive to your branding strategy. And it ideas or other input surfaces that runs counter to your strategic direction, you can see it in the small group output and react in a sound strategic way – rather than having to field a hot question off-the-cuff in a big audience setting.

Want to learn more about the opportunity and value of incorporating more voices in developing strategy? Download our latest RESULTS!!! mini-book to learn more about the advantages of dramatically growing the perspectives shaping your strategy. Do you have many things you want your employees to understand about your corporate branding strategy, what they should be doing to carry it out, and how they should interact with customers to fulfill your brand promise? – Mike Brown

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved 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

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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Do you have many things you want your employees to understand about your corporate branding strategy, what they should be doing to carry it out, and how they should interact with customers to fulfill your brand promise?

Do you have lots to say about your corporate branding strategy, but no time or opportunity to say it all?

Try these four ideas to prioritize internal messages for employees to help them understand and carry out your corporate branding strategy.

1. Crafting Brief Internal Brand Messages

This idea is from a corporate branding consultant. Assemble all the internal brand messages you hope to share with employees and put them to this test:

“If you had 3 minutes, a megaphone, and all your employees in the parking lot, what would you say?”

Three minutes translates to approximately four hundred words – about this blog post’s length. With that limit, which internal brand messages will make the cut?

2. Even Shorter Internal Brand Messages

This puts your messages to the tougher elevator speech test:

“If you have a 30-second elevator ride, what internal brand message would you want your employees to be able to share with customers (knowing they also have to understand, explain, and carry out that message)?

In crafting the elevator speech, what elements of the brand promise, brand benefits, and points of differentiation are vital?

Elevator-Picture

3. Creating Instantaneous Brand Messages

At a long-ago workshop, author Jay Conrad Levinson challenged the marketers to develop brand memes. Levinson used “meme” to represent a symbol or icon instantly recognizable that conveys your brand and its promise to customers.

A text-based logo with a bland brand name doesn’t pass this test. In that case, what else could you depict to instantly allow customers to get your brand, what it stands for, and what it does?

101002 The Brainzooming Group Logo - No Tagline copy

Our Meme

4. First, Last, Only Corporate Branding Strategy Messages

This final idea is a variation on a reminder for getting the most from church: What would you want your first brand message to employees to be? What would you want your last brand message to employees to be? And if you could deliver only one brand message to employees, what would it include?

Have three individuals or groups answer this question separately. Look for the common messages among the three scenarios. Those are the ones to prioritize.

From Corporate Branding Strategy to Internal Brand Messages

Try these four ideas to prioritize your internal brand messages and fashion something employees can understand, remember, and carry out successfully.  – Mike Brown

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved 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

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

 

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If your brand has been battered in the marketplace, you need to develop and implement a turnaround corporate branding strategy. Having been there and done that with a Fortune 500 business-to-business brand, here are five keys to successful turnaround branding.

5 Keys to a Successful Turnaround Corporate Branding Strategy

Traffic-Circle

1. Be prepared for a multi-front branding battle.

A turnaround corporate branding strategy is not a one front battle. If a brand were just a logo, it would be. Since a brand is more than a new ad and a new logo, however, you must fight the turnaround branding battle on multiple fronts. That involves the brand’s strategic foundation, its people, product and service quality, brand cues, and communications channels.

2. Ask questions and pursue facts relentlessly.

Facts are at the heart of driving turnaround branding strategy. Got big data? Got small data? Either way, use it to form strategies and decisions. You have to ensure you are listening everywhere for what customers, the marketplace, competitors, and other stakeholders are “telling” you about your brand position.

3. The real competitive threat isn’t always the obvious one.

It’s easy to think the competitors you are up against with your turnaround branding strategy are the competitors that look like your own brand. It’s vital, however, to identify potential competitive substitutes – even unconventional ones – for the benefits your brand delivers. Niche players could become the competitors that disrupt and crush your turnaround branding efforts.

4. Figure out what your brand is really about in the minds of customers.

Determine what your brand represents right now in the marketplace and what opportunities there are to change your position. Exploring the benefits the brand currently delivers and has the opportunity to start delivering could lead to a very different position than what the brand currently occupies.

5. Your brand story needs to be simple, consistent, and visible.

Getting ready to deliver on your updated brand promise means everything has to be aligned, beginning with alignment to your brand culture. Enabling the brand promise starts with having the right people in place, then training and developing them to carry out what you tell the marketplace you’ll do. The key is making sure everything is ready behind the scenes before you start talking to the market.

A Corporate Branding Strategy Caution

Don’t be fooled by there being just five turnaround corporate branding strategy steps on this list. There’s a lot contained in those five steps, so start early and keep at it!  – Mike Brown

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Looking for Brand Innovation 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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Talking with a senior corporate marketing executive, he mentioned changes the past few years in how procurement strategies are influencing the buying process for marketing services (i.e., consultants, advertising agencies, marketing research firms, etc.).

A continued intense focus on reducing costs and increasing shareholder activism are creating this phenomenon. Even the highest level executives are accountable for significant overall budgets and delivering business results while being micro-managed by other internal departments with procurement strategies focused on nearly every spending detail.

These factors result in slower decision times, stops and starts before key initiatives launch (if they ever do), a reluctance to work with new outside marketing partners, many more hoops to make progress, and a significant amount of time on low value activity not directly benefiting the business or customers.

His inside assessment of how marketing executives are dealing with aggressive procurement strategies was very valuable.

Comparing his assessment to when I was a VP at a Fortune 300 corporation reveals slower, more hesitant decision making among corporations. Small multi-thousand dollar expenditure decisions a manager or director (and above) used to be able to make with minimal review now require a committee to authorize. This extends even to purchasing decisions driven by Senior VPs and C-level executives.

Fn-PiggyBank

Procurement Strategies – 5 Ways Marketing Executives Can Be More Effective

Based on experience in comparable situations with heavy procurement involvement, here are suggestions marketing executives can pursue to function more effectively and make sound business decisions in these types of environments.

1. Build a strong relationship with the head of purchasing.

Marketing executives need good allies who truly want to do the right things for the business and realize that, in most cases, “procurement” ISN’T the business. That means reaching out and proactively building strategic relationships is vital.

2. Ask for the right person to be your internal contact.

You want someone who has an inkling of how marketing is trying to grow the business. The person also needs to be willing to learn more about marketing. Ideally, see if there is a “math and music” person in purchasing you can work with directly. They will be in the best position to translate between the two worlds.

3. Involve your internal purchasing contact early and thoroughly.

To make a rigid purchasing process work better, involve your purchasing contact at the earliest stages of initiatives. The individual will learn more about why marketing is important and how you develop strategies and recommendations. Invite questions and idea sharing so your internal partner has a stake in making the outcome successful.

4. Identify flexible outside partners who can work with you in multiple ways.

Flexibility is important because you will need outside providers to expand and contract and pursue unconventional strategies to succeed amid rigid procurement strategies. There has to be something in it for your outside partners, so understand what’s important to them. Your best strategy may be to work with outside partners where you can interact directly with the most senior person on a regular basis who can make quick decisions.

5. Use numbers to keep everybody on the program.

If you’re a more creative than analytical marketing executive, boost your confidence and familiarity with the numbers-side of marketing. Having a strong handle on budgets, ROI forecasts and tracking, and quantifying the impact of trade-offs and opportunity costs serve you well. You can combat an overly-detailed internal process by showing you’re spending more in dollars on managing the process than the absolute size of the decision the process is meant to address.

Making the Best of Procurement Strategies

There’s no single fix in this list, but combined, they will help you get business done better and faster for the good of customers and of the company.  – Mike Brown

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved 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

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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Every now and then, we’ll run a post that recaps Facebook and Twitter updates, blog post scraps, and other random creative thinking, all smushed together, Larry King-style. If you enjoy those, today’s your day!

Creative Thinking on Love and Nastiness

If we’re willing to self-talk at the top of our lungs, we can tell ourselves anything without hearing the blatant truth swirling all around us. . . In the film about the band Kansas called “Miracles out of Nowhere,” Rolling Stone writer, David Wild, remarked on the band’s humble origins in my home state, “It’s hard to get your ass kissed in Kansas.” So true, so true. . . An honest to goodness Walmart moment: A woman (in a car in the parking lot with the windows rolled down) delivering what sounded like a church sermon while talking on the phone to someone obviously more interested in sexual exploits than God, as she stated ever so bluntly, “It doesn’t matter if she’ll let you [FILL IN EXPLICIT SEXUAL ACT]. God don’t care about that.”

Perhaps the most dangerous thing I’ve ever said to my wife is, “When you’re done trying to stubborn that to death, let me know, and I’ll help you do it” . . . I survived that remark to realize that love is figuring out all those little things you can say and do you KNOW will get under the skin of your partner, and then removing them from your personality and vowing to never ever ‘go there’ with any of them . . . Business wisdom from Mother Angelica on one of her TV shows, “If you took ‘but’ out of the dictionary, you’d be forced to tell the truth.”

Pencil-Med

When someone says they don’t believe in dogma or want to have any part of it, watch out, because there is a high likelihood they are about to introduce their OWN dogma, which is of course very acceptable to them . . . A school anxiety dream (i.e., having chemistry and accounting quizzes today that seemed far off at one point and I knew I’d study in advance, but never did and now it’s too late) woke me up at 4 in the morning. Guess those type of dreams never go away, no matter how long you’ve been away from school . . . If you’d have told me 15 years ago I’d hate a week where there was no time to exercise and would LOVE getting an hour of cardio exercise wedged into a busy schedule, I’d have told you that you were crazy. See, you CAN change, too.

One day, someone typed the search term “sleeping with my sociopath boss” and reached the Brainzooming blog. We’re happy to help in any way we can. . . A scary “closed blog” test for content creators: Give a blogger a list of his/her own post titles that include numbered lists and see how many of the lists they could reproduce from memory . . . When your alarm goes off and you haven’t been to bed yet, that’s a bad sign. And eating sushi at 2 a.m. isn’t an exactly a good sign, either . . . Producing events and meetings will make you either a yeller or someone who hardly ever yells. You get to pick which side of that fence you want to live. My advice? Pick wisely, because your reputation will be based on your pick. . . Why do people reply “Maybe” to an invitation? Perhaps the spirit is willing, but the event is weak?

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help you 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. Email 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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It’s natural for engineers and operations people to be at odds with marketers over innovation strategy.

The engineering and operations view of the world typically focuses on internal perspectives and ensuring processes conform to standards, are efficient, and cost as little as possible. Success from this perspective is just enough performance relative to the costs incurred.

Marketers typically take a drastically different view.

As natural customer advocates, marketers are more likely to push for an innovation strategy that dramatically differentiates a brand’s customer experience. A marketer will focus on what will be different, attractive to the market, and sell strongly. After that’s solved, they figure out the rest. So instead of the threshold orientation operators advocate, marketers are looking to maximize and create significant advantages in the brand experience.

Spending many years in a B2B transportation and logistics company, I was usually standing in the middle of the street at the intersection of “do just enough” and “do everything possible.”

Trying to better our odds of innovation success and secure the help of the operations team, we used an approach one consultant originally called, “Operationally Smart Marketing.” At the concept’s heart is the idea that pushing for a more robust innovation strategy in an operationally-oriented environment requires being intimately familiar with the roadblocks operations might raise in order to innovate around them.

Closed-Road-Or-Not

This approach can appear counter to a customer-first, outside-in innovation strategy. From experience, however, this strategy is more productive than falling on the sword for innovations that WOULD maximize customer value IF they were ever implemented, but that you can NEVER get implemented.

An “Operationally Smart Marketing” Innovation Strategy

As a marketer, what are your starting points for operationally smart marketing?

Try asking and answering these strategic thinking questions:

  • What drives profitability in the business?
  • How do important operational factors play into whether there is a bigger or smaller opportunity for a bold innovation strategy?
  • Are there certain parts of the business that provide disproportionately greater innovation opportunities?
  • What factors make for disproportionately outstanding efficiency and operational performance? Can they be aligned to increase customer value?
  • What are the critical success factors for the best quality performance your organization can deliver?
  • Are there things customers might be incented to do to enhance performance AND improve the customer experience?
  • Is there anything we didn’t ask about?

This last question is particularly important. I came across many cases where operations people would answer only the question asked without ever volunteering ideas to expand possibilities or introduce greater operational variations. That’s why you should always ask point blank about what else might be possible you didn’t anticipate.

Knowing the relevant constraints and possibilities from the operations side can be vital to turning the strategy approaches we discuss in our Outside-in Innovation eBook (which you can download below) into success within a strong operational environment.  – Mike Brown

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Looking for Outside-In Innovation 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 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 Outside-In Innovation 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 growth!


Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking eBook

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