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Before We Start

This isn’t an April Fool’s Day post; it’s an actual article. If you’d like to understand why we ignore April Fool’s Day prank posts, you can review our article on why we think they are generally a very bad practice.

Seriously Considering Customer Experience Strategy

What seems like eons ago, Stephen Lahey, the self-professed #1 Brainzooming fan, and I were discussing customer experience strategy and doing some strategic thinking on how to create a pre-purchase experience for an intangible service.

The point was with a product, a potential buyer can pick it up or demo it with minimal economic impact on the product’s delivered cost.

With an intangible service that has to be created to deliver the full experience, however, the economics and practicality of a full demo fail quickly. There typically has to be a huge upside and pretty firm assurance of some level of remuneration for a demo of any significance to make sense for an intangible service.

11 Ways to Demo an Intangible Service

Mike Brown Speaking at KVC Health Workshop

Despite this potential customer experience strategy limitation, there are possibilities. We did the strategic thinking to suggest these eleven possibilities:

  1. Describe the service experience in multiple ways from multiple perspectives
  2. Have someone else provide a descriptive testimonial about using your service
  3. Record (whether audio or video) you providing the service for a real customer
  4. Create a demonstration that many potential customers can experience at one time
  5. Develop a simulation of your service experience
  6. Offer samples of the service’s typical outputs or outcomes
  7. Sponsor a contest for a potential customer to receive the service free in for a large number of testimonials, reference conversations, etc.
  8. Offer the first step in your service free or at an introductory, low cost
  9. Demonstrate the service for someone else that will allow a prospect to become immersed in the service experience
  10. Create rich, easily-grasped comparisons to describe what the service experience will be like
  11. Align with an appropriate sponsorship and donate your in-kind service in exchange for inviting your prospective customers as guests

I’m certain this isn’t a comprehensive list, but they are ones our strategic thinking yielded that we have either considered or tried.

Specifically, we used number nine to help a local non-profit enhance its strategic planning. The mini-strategic planning session we designed and facilitated was designed around the organization’s objectives, but the objective for us was to create a real-life experience for a potential client who offered a large upside in actual business and referrals.

Additionally, the Building the Gigabit City event we created several years ago with Social Media Club of Kansas City was an example of number eleven. The large-scale Brainzooming event provided the opportunity to expose what we do to scores of potential clients as we sought to gain greater awareness and buzz within the city.

What customer experience strategy ideas do you think we missed?

If you sell and deliver intangible services, what do you think we missed on this list of potential ways to cost-effectively create a service experience demo for what you do? –  Mike Brown

 

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If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


 

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I’m delivering the closing keynote at the October 2015 Social Media Strategy Summit in Boston. It’s an exciting next step in the relationship that’s developed with the Global Strategic Management Institute (GSMI) over the past year delivering social media strategy workshops and presentations at a number of their events.

Bring on the 28 Social Media Strategy Super Models

This new keynote presentation will cover “Super Models – Strategic Ways to Plan, Sell-in, and Get More from Your Content.”

No, it’s not about Kate Upton, Gisele Bündchen, or even Cindy Crawford who caused a social media stir with the “who knows whether they are touched up good or touched up bad” photos.

The social media strategy keynote presentation I’ll be delivering will highlight strategic models we’ve developed for brands to expand their effectiveness in developing content marketing and social strategies. Each model provides a different perspective to think about various aspects of social and content strategy.

I started sketching out the keynote presentation while discussing the conference with Breanna Jacobs, Director, Conference Production at Global Strategic Management Institute. This prompted this compilation of twenty-eight social media and content marketing models we’ve included across these articles from the Brainzooming blog.

Online Brand Presence

Social Networks Are Like . . . Offline Situations Where You Understand What to Do

It’s a lot easier to explain social networks to people who don’t get it (and even develop robust strategies) when you have solid offline models to make strategic connections. Want an example? Twitter makes a lot more sense to many executives and sales people when you tell them it’s like a business networking function.

Network-Twitter

Your Website Is Like . . . Your Home

Most people don’t invite people over to their messy, run-down homes. They get their houses fixed up and ready, then the invites are extended to others. The same steps apply for your brand’s website and its audiences.

Activating Your Brand’s Online Is Like . . . TV Network Content and Promotion

TV and cable networks have been creating content, promoting it, and drawing audiences for a long time. That’s why we think they have something to teach brands.

Social Media Interaction

Social Engagement Is Like . . . Dating and Relationship Success

Lifelong personal relationships aren’t built on a series of one night stands. Neither are successful brand relationships with their audiences.

Mike-Cyndi

A Community Manager’s Job Is Like . . . Being a DJ at a Dance Club

Whether you are a community manager or a DJ, having lots of options, paying attention to what the crowd is enjoying, and making connections are all vital.

Reaching Out and Engaging Online with Frustrated Customers Is Like . . . Preventing a Brand Kidnapping

Just as you wouldn’t stand idly by if someone where threatening a family member, a brand has to reach out and manage engagement with frustrated customers to turn these situations into success.

Failing to Monitor Online Conversations without Social Listening Tools Is Like . . . Trying to Serve Soup without a Ladle

It’s frustrating to try to listen, learn, and analyze what’s going on relative to your brand on social media without good listening tools. They’re changing all the time, so you have to stay up on them.

Content Creation

Creating Audience-Oriented Content Is Like . . . Standing on the Outside of Your Brand and Looking In (But Mainly Looking Around)

A sure way to deliver ho-hum content to your audience is to stand “inside” your brand and simply report about yourself. Engaging brand content reflects an audience perspective that takes place outside your brand.

Outside-Looking-In

Being Able to Easily Generate Content Ideas Is Like . . . How George Costanza Thinks about TV Show Ideas

You have to be a Seinfeld fan for this model to work as well, but suffice it to say that ANYTHING can become a blog post!

Deciding How Aggressive Your Content Sells Online Is Like . . . Deciding If Your Brand Is a Fun Partier, a Pushy Salesperson, or Something in Between

There are multiple ways you can sell and pick your spots on the social sales continuum. You just need to decide what approaches best fit your brand.

Involved with Branding Strategy? Join us in San Francisco in May!

I’ll be conducting a workshop on “Strategic Brand Innovation – Mining Outside-In Opportunities to Bolster Your Brand” at the GSMI Brand Strategy Conference in May 2015. If you’re focused on branding and want to hear perspectives from a wide variety of great brands, we’d love to see you in San Francisco! – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social business strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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“Back in the day, we did creative thinking about ideas.”

I was talking with a colleague the other day. He has been working closely with a particular client for fifteen years. So long, in fact, if people walk through the department where he is stationed, you would never know he ISN’T an employee unless someone said something about it.

The client has undergone tremendous changes in leadership and staff during his tenure working with the company. It has also endured a variety of boom and bust periods in these years.

He mentioned saying “back in the day” almost daily before introducing ideas in meetings. The company has implemented very smart, creative strategies through the years. It just as frequently has lost track of how creative thinking brought about these strategies whenever it hits a bust cycle or goes through a leadership change.

So in suggesting previous ideas that used to pass for creative thinking, he feels compelled to inform others that they aren’t original ideas, but ones the company has tried previously.

They were great ideas once. They fell out of favor, however, and the company abandoned them.

Bloxed-Up-Ideas

Every Old Idea Is New Again

My immediate reaction was, “Stop doing that!”

It’s the same reaction when an individual who changes jobs makes continual references to how things were done at the former employer once they are the new employer. I tell people who do this to own their experiences and simply introduce ideas they are bringing along from previous jobs as if they emerged from completely fresh creative thinking.

The same principle applies someone has been in one place much longer than most co-workers. These individuals have earned the expertise, experience, and valuable historical frame of reference co-workers have not. Continually prefacing ideas with “back in the day” not only makes one seem old, but could be creating hurdles for gaining support for smart ideas that haven’t taken hold, but should have.

It’s a New Idea to Them

When you have a strong historical perspective on what will work because you’ve been around long enough to see an idea tried and work before, simply state the idea. Unless there’s a clearly compelling reason to disclose the idea’s origins, it’s far better to share the idea without attribution, keeping your need to date the idea as an “old idea” to yourself.

Following this strategy, you’ll be recognized for the creative thinking and ideas you’re sharing irrespective of when and where the idea was first imagined and implemented.

Struggling to Bring New Creative Thinking and Innovations to the Market? We Have an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness comebacks often tie to introducing new products that more strongly resonate with customers.

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 enable your brand to ideate, prioritize, and develop the innovative growth ideas to spur a business comeback. 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!

141104 Download EBook

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Some organizations do an incredible job of managing intellectual capital and brand messages. These organizations routinely manage messaging, delivery, and cataloging for a sales and executive presentation so there’s a thorough trail of the consistent market messages the brand displays across audiences.

Then there’s every other organization, which likely represents most organizations.

In these, some PowerPoints might be reused convenience’s sake. Too often, however, an executive presentation is a one-off. An assistant may have helped, or maybe the executive threw the presentation together on the way to a customer or industry presentation.

Content Marketing Efficiency

No matter the circumstances of a one-off PowerPoint, don’t squander the opportunity an executive presentation holds for tremendous content marketing possibilities.

Repurposed appropriately, a content creator can share them more broadly to extend the reach AND save salesperson and senior executive time generating additional new content.

Leftover-Powerpoint

14 Ideas to Repurpose an Executive Presentation

If you are managing content marketing for your brand, consider these possibilities to repurpose presentations senior executives and salespeople deliver:

  • Carve up PowerPoint presentations and share the parts in multiple ways on Slideshare.
  • Review the PowerPoint notes section for content (maybe across multiple slides) to create a blog post.
  • Determine if there enough factoids in the PowerPoint presentation to create one or more infographics.
  • The PowerPoint could work by itself (or in a more prose-oriented form) as a downloadable asset on your website.
  • Have someone record audio for all or part of the PowerPoint to create a video to share on YouTube.
  • Lists contained in the PowerPoint could be extracted and developed into a LinkedIn blog post.
  • Unique graphics within the PowerPoint can be shareable on Pinterest.
  • Multiple factoids and images might lend themselves to sharing over the course of a few days or a week on Facebook or Google+.
  • Any “word bites” (i.e., short memorable sentences or phrases) throughout the PowerPoint could become tweets.
  • Multiple slides can be used as images to illustrate a blog post that has too many words and not enough graphics.
  • Provide access to salespeople of any video used in the presentation in a format suitable for use in sales presentations.
  • The presentation could easily become the basis for a webinar.
  • Pin infographics within the PowerPoint to a specific Pinterest board and share the board with your audience.
  • Parts of the presentation might lend themselves to developing a survey to learn more about what your audience thinks about the topic.

Talk about repurposed content.

If you can invest a little bit of time upfront, you can pre-plan to turn new presentations into  days, weeks, and even months of content marketing materials for multiple brand channels online and in person. – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social business strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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We published an article on how to engage a team in strategic thinking and creative thinking exercises without having an offsite meeting.

It prompted a question from our buddy, “Jim in Massachusetts.” Jim asked about handling people not interested in participating. Specifically, Jim asked, “What do you do about the ‘overly serious’ people who don’t get the exercises, never read, ‘Whack on the Side of the Head’ or its sister book, and try to turn these meetings into useless frustration exercises by bitching about the work they are not getting done??”

I address this question all the time in creating strategic impact workshops, but was surprised nothing on Brainzooming covered this.

The point of the “strategic thinking without having an offsite meeting” list was you can engage a team in creative thinking exercises without telegraphing what they are doing.

Small-Group

When Multiple People Aren’t into Creative Thinking Exercises

Suppose multiple people on a team don’t want to engage in creative thinking exercises or anything resembling creative thinking.

  • Typically we try to head this off before things begin by working with the client to plan who will be participating.
  • If several people MUST be there who are reluctant but not obnoxious about not wanting to participate, we spread them out with people who are engaged. We then see if we can win them over to participating.
  • If a few people are ruining things for others and for what we’re trying to accomplish, we might put them all together in a group and let them beat up on one another for the rest of the time. While other participants get to switch groups, they’ll all stay together. If ANYTHING productive comes from them, it’s a pleasant surprise.

 

When One Person Isn’t into Creative Thinking Exercises

With just one person in a group not into creative thinking, our approach is different.

  • If a boss or authority figure is taking energy from creative thinking activities, we pair them with someone that can over-enthuse the group to offset the authority figure. They generally stay together and won’t move to other groups. This minimizes the damage the authority figure might inflict on the group.
  • If we have a good relationship with the authority figure, we might ask them to step aside and only observe. In one case, given a team’s concerns (even through their boss was NOT dampening anything), the client left the room so the team could work on people issues inside the organization unencumbered.
  • If someone other than the boss is overtly antagonistic to strategic thinking exercises and activities, we simply suggest they use the remaining time on their own. This first happened when a curmudgeony director at our company walked in late to a strategy planning activity. He took one look at the toys and noisy people having fun working on new ideas, and told me, “I have real work to do.” I told him we’d all be better off if he concentrated on his real work. That was the end of that.

 

That’s Our Experience

Again, the best way to deal with these situations is heading them off before the group convenes. If not, you may have to improvise. If this situation happens in the future, however, who knows what other solutions the specific setting may inspire! – Mike Brown

Mike-Brown-Gets-Brainzoomin

Learn all about what Mike Brown’s creativity, strategic impact, and innovation presentations can add to your business meeting!

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle got home from work the other day and received a great reminder on why you need to understand your customers, even the ones you don’t realize are trying to become your customers. Without waiting any longer, here’s Woody!

Customer Experience Strategy – Millennials Don’t Wait by Woody Bendle

Ranting-Woody-Bendle2One of my favorite expressions is, “It’s amazing what you can see if you take the time to look.”  The other evening, my millennial step-daughter reminded of just that.

I’d just gotten home from work, and she was at the kitchen counter with her laptop going through a packet of paperwork and looking frustrated.  I recognized the packet as “the stuff” she needed to get done prior to moving into her first apartment. You know, hooking up the electricity, gas, internet, etc.

I asked her if she’d been able to connect with our insurance agent to get her renter’s insurance set up. She gave me that millennial look that says, “You won’t believe this,” and replied, “I called this afternoon and got their voice mail. It said to leave a message, and someone would get back to me within 24 hours. I left them a message, but I haven’t heard anything from them yet.”

I told her, “They’ll get back with you tomorrow – just be patient.”

That’s when the, “It’s amazing what you can see if you take the time to look,” moment happened.

She shrugged her shoulders, rolled her eyes, and dispassionately said, “I don’t need to wait,” as she continued scrolling through an online insurance comparison site.

Wait-Wait

IWWIWWAHIWI

For those of you who don’t speak Millennial, IWWIWWAHIWI stands for “I want what I want, when and how I want it.” And therein lies my lesson from the other evening.

I “know” this is how Millennials think and feel from all of the stuff I’ve read over the years about them, but I guess I didn’t “really know” this until the other evening. That reality hit me when I saw how my step-daughter was dealing with not connecting with our insurance agent when SHE tried to connect with him.

With just a few taps on a keyboard, I watched our insurance agent lose business – just like that!

Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of brands and businesses still operating out there assuming that they are fine by just focusing on satisfying the needs and expectations of their current customers (Boomers and Gen-Xrs). And, they don’t have a clue about what’s going to happen to them in a few more years.

My insight from observing a Millennial in the household is this: If you have a business partially dependent upon millennial consumers – either today or tomorrow – and you’re not operating in “now time”, you need to re-tool… now! If you don’t change your customer experience strategy, it’ll be game over before you even know what hit you.

Just remember, not only do Millennials instinctually feel they don’t need to wait; they won’t.

And by the way, the insurance agent still has never called back. - Woody Bendle

 

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Sure, you may not know what you don’t know.

You may even think you can’t discover what you don’t know that you don’t know.

But that’s bunk.

9 Ways to Discover What You Don’t Know that You Don’t Know

How-empty

Try these nine ways to discover the blind spots in your knowledge:

  1. Have diverse people around you with lots of interests that don’t match yours.
  2. Listen to what other people are talking about and saying about new things.
  3. Ask great questions of others.
  4. Take every opportunity you can to observe your situation from new perspectives.
  5. Know who you can count on to challenge your thinking.
  6. Surround yourself with people who will talk to you honestly, even when that’s difficult.
  7. Let others share what they know that you don’t know as anonymously or as visibly as they would like.
  8. Always keep the knowledge that you don’t know everything you need to know front and center in your mind.
  9. If you don’t find out at least one new thing you didn’t know that you didn’t know daily, you aren’t trying hard enough . . . so try harder!

Now you know. – Mike Brown

 

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success 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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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