Blog | The Brainzooming Group - Part 336 – page 336

Here are three links that can benefit you in varying (and sometimes fun) ways when preparing marketing plans.

Guerrilla Marketing Plans

I haven’t “blogged” other conference presentations yet, although I typically write pages of notes and idea starters. One of the most valuable note packets was from a 2003 Transportation Marketing Communications Association presentation by Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of guerrilla marketing. He covered essential elements of a marketing plan and the number of times you need to get a message in front of potential customers to move them to be repeat buyers. Interestingly enough, surfing the web recently, I found this Spark Insight page with notes taken from the same speech Levinson was giving then. Not sure if he’s still covering this material, but it’s a great quick reference on guerrilla marketing.

Marketing Plan Simplicity

This link to Entrepreneur magazine content popped up on AOL recently. It’s a great reminder on the importance of simple prose, reasonable length, and a direct style when preparing a business plan. While its target audience is people writing business plans for their own start-ups, it’s certainly applicable for any marketing or business plan you’re putting together even within a big company.

Deceptive Simplicity – “Indexed

I love a Venn diagram just as much as the next person. Okay, I love a Venn diagram more than most people. This book and website by Jessica Hagy capture her commentary on a wide range of topics through Venn diagrams, x-y charts, and other graphs. She produces an amazing amount of content on her blog and generates a lot of comments debating what the charts mean. Her ability to translate complex issues into a few lines and words on an index card is inspirational (and maddening – if you struggle mightily to express ideas simply!).

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Here are five things that can help you in creative block busting. At least they work for me most of the time when a creative block is rearing its head:

  • Start with the familiar – What forms / styles / characters / media are the familiar ones that always work for you creatively? Use them to get started. (As the cartoon suggests, when I have a creative block about something to draw, a cow or a growling dog usually shows up on the page first.)
  • Do something mindless – Start something productive that requires no creative energy to get your mind off the block. (For me, that’s usually some type of data entry or spreadsheet work.)
  • Perform very yes/no or close-ended tasks – Find things with clear right & wrong answers (math, puzzles, etc.) and work on them. (I will often create flow diagrams for something I’m working on that force yes/no points or provide only a couple of choices at each step.)
  • Go where you’ve gone before –Return to a setting where you’ve been creative before or get out tools that have stimulated ideas to bust a previous creative block. (It’s Sharpie markers, a blank piece of paper, and starting to write or draw bold lines to get me going.)
  • Create a variation on the theme – Modify something you’ve done or build off of somebody else’s creativity. Start working with it, but vary it in increasingly bold ways until you’ve moved into creating something new. (For me, that may be drawing Dilbert characters in unusual settings or searching Google images for offbeat pictures that convey what I’m trying to say.)

Those are five potential blockbusters. For a bonus 6th creative blockbuster, here’s a link back to a previous post. And share a comment on what you do. Happy creative block busting!– Mike Brown

To tap into your creativity and bust creative blocks, download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to enhance your creative perspective! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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The phrase “fighting fires” gets thrown around pretty casually in business. For real fire fighters, however, it’s a highly skilled, dangerous endeavor focused on both prevention and ensuring public safety amid life threatening fires.

In this week’s Change Your Character exercise, let’s see what fire fighters can teach us about stopping the non life-threatening challenges we face in business; brainstorm 3 potential ideas for each of the fire fighting approaches listed below:


  • Performing community outreach & education on fire prevention
  • Training with real fire situations
  • Inspecting buildings to ensure susceptibility to fire is reduced
  • Having a special number for people to report problems


  • Getting to the scene of the fire quickly
  • Bringing specialized equipment and proper tools with them
  • Using resources at the scene
  • First finding the fire’s origin
  • Identifying potential risks
  • Rescuing people in danger / harm’s way
  • Locating casualties / people injured & providing assistance
  • Analyzing the fire for potential future trouble spots
  • Removing the fire’s source of fuel
  • Addressing self-preservation

Check out a compilation of “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises and information on its use.  – Mike Brown


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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on combating overly detailed PowerPoint slides, here are two quick checks to keep yourself honest on the detail level and clarity of your slides:

Check #1 – Print out your “finished” PowerPoint presentation with 16 (or at least 9) slides on the page (you can usually do this in the Printer Setup dialog – not directly in PowerPoint). At that resolution, see if you can read what’s on EVERY slide without squinting. If you can, you’re audience will be able to read it as well. If you can’t, neither will your audience, so go back to yesterday’s post and start again.

Check #2 – Cover the headline on each slide and ask, “Can the audience get my point from the slide’s content?” Next, cover up the content and ask, “Can the audience get my point from the headline?” Then determine, “Is the point consistent for both the headline and the content?” The right answer to all these questions is “Yes,” if you’re slide is a good one. If not, you’ve got some more work to do.

Simply using the principles outlined in the past two posts will demonstrate to your audience that you’re thinking about them and are making strides to deliver value to them with your content.

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In a continued effort to dissuade bad presenters from their PowerPoint misconceptions, here’s some advice. If you’ve ever said during a presentation,

“I know this is tough to read, but I think you’ll get the point”

that means even you realize the SLIDE DOESN’T WORK!!! Fix it or get rid of it. Don’t subject the audience to your LAZINESS!!!

Sorry about the outburst, but if you choose to fix the slide, here are three possible approaches:

  • Prioritize the material on the slide – use the forced choice technique approach from a previous post to narrow the content.
  • Help the audience focus – if it’s an overly detailed chart or spreadsheet, consider using custom animation to circle the area that you’re addressing or a picture insert to enlarge what you’re referencing, breaking it up into multiple slides that are legible, or developing a graphic with only the point(s) you’re making.
  • Do something completely different – think hard about whether there’s a story, anecdote, or image you could use to make your point and (I realize this is radical) completely eliminate the detailed slide.

I know that none of this makes sense to a bad presenter, because the audience REALLY needs to see everything on the slide to get your point.

But on behalf of all your audience members, we can’t SEE what’s on the slide anyway; it might as well be blank. So pick a course of action (and reach out to somebody for help if you’re struggling with #2 or #3), and get back to us when you’ve fixed your slides!

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To wrap up “Hit ‘Em Where They Ain’t Week,” here are strategy quotes that reflect Wee Willie Keeler’s competitive perspective:

  • “Competitive strategy is about being different. It means deliberately choosing to perform activities differently or to perform different activities than rivals to deliver a unique mix of value.” – Michael Porter
  • “Strategy used to be about protecting existing competitive advantage, but not any more. Today it is about finding the next advantage.” – Vijay Govindarajan, Chris Trimble
  • “K is for Keeler
    As fresh as green paint
    The fustest and mostest
    To hit where they ain’t.” – Ogden Nash



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