3

Can you successfully integrate creativity into analytical business functions? The answer, according to Keith Pigues, CMO of Plygem Industries and co-author of “Winning with Customers,” is a resounding, “Yes.” To prove the point, Keith recruited a stellar panel of business-to-business practitioners at the Business Marketing Association Unleash conference to provide a real world perspective on how creativity can flourish in business.

Keith Pigues, former president of the national BMA and a friend going back several years to a Marcus Evans CMO conference, pointed out how easy it is to leave creativity behind when you’re involved in analytical business work. He set the stage for the panel, however, with the oft-quoted 2010 IBM CEO study which supported the importance of creativity in business. The panel was the best I saw during the BMA conference, and here are 10 of the lessons shared by the panel for integrating creativity in business.

How Innovators Use Creativity

You can use creativity, within complex markets as a source of competitive advantage. Creative leaders can make their organizations stand out by implementing business model changes, inviting disruptive innovation, and being very comfortable with ambiguity. – Keith Pigues

What are 5 important skills for innovators? According to “The Innovator’s DNA” from the Harvard Business Review, the skills include being able to associate disparate elements, questioning what everyone knows, observing both inside and outside the business, experimenting, and networking across functions. Chris Chariton, Globalspec

Instigating Creativity

Building your creative intelligence skills requires practice and deliberately scheduling time to look at the bigger picture for your organization. – Chris Chariton, Globalspec

Forced constraints and unwavering expectations balanced with a strong code of conduct create enormous room for creative problem solving.” – Randall Rozin, Dow Corning

To build a stronger foundation for creativity, seek out more direct contact with customers and seeing how they use your products. Observing real customers interacting with products can open many avenues for creative possibilities. – Chris Chariton, Globalspec

Thinking Differently

“Don’t underestimate the value of starting from scratch and re-imagining your business. Burning platforms spark creativity.” – Randall Rozin, Dow Corning

Restating business issues provides an opportunity to improve your advantage. Customers don’t buy your product. They buy what your product does for them. An example? They don’t purchase a 1/4 inch drill bit. They’re purchasing a 1/4 inch hole. Adrian Joseph, Parker Hannifin

Project your business situation five years out and then look back to see what obstacles might have presented themselves within the time horizon. This technique can help make apparently insurmountable problems from today’s perspective appear much more manageable. – Randall Rozin, Dow Corning

The Value of Deadlines

Dow Corning runs 100-day projects to ensure the deadline enforces creativity and doesn’t allow the project to go on forever. – Randall Rozin, Dow Corning

“Creativity for creativity’s sake is artistry. Creativity with a defined purpose and a timeline is business.” – Randall Rozin, Dow Corning

Mike Brown

To tap into your own extreme creativity, 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 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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5

Bob Thacker, Chief Cubist at Cubit Consulting, closed out the Business Marketing Association conference with a presentation on “Unleash Your Creativity.” Thacker’s creativity comments were a fitting and fun (and by fun, I mean both “strategic” and “enjoyable”) close for the BMA Unleash conference. Here are three themes on creative possibilities I took away to apply to my own creative pursuits:

Challenges Unleash Creative Possibilities

For those who expect perfect conditions to be in place to trigger creativity, history is full of contra-examples where hard times have sent people looking for creative escape and hope:

  • Half of the world’s population died from the plague in the 15th century, yet it also yielded incredible thinkers and artists in the Renaissance.
  • Shakespeare’s artistry emerged from a religious bloodbath in England during the 16th century.
  • The economic failure of The Great Depression was the genesis for many prominent brands which shaped business and culture.

Creative Impact: Don’t look for smooth conditions as a prerequisite for creativity; look for sandpaper to rough things up.

Push for Big Creative Possibilities

As much as anything, Bob Thacker’s presentation was a greatest hits of creative projects he’s spearheaded while in senior marketing roles at Target and OfficeMax, including:

Creative Impact: These are all really smart strategic and creative efforts. How to be comparably successful strategically and creatively? Reading between the lines, asking questions such as, “What is this like?”, “What could this be like?”, and “How can we make this more extreme?” provide an underpinning to all of these Thacker-led efforts.

Creative Thackerisms You Can Use

Bob Thacker’s presentation included a variety of creative witticisms:

  • “If you don’t have a big budget, you have to have big ideas.”
  • “Serendipity can be a strategy, if your antennae are up.”
  • “Look before you leap, but then leap!”
  • “‘It can’t be done really means, ‘It hasn’t been done YET.'”
  • “Creativity is a group practice. Ideas need to be generated in a playful, fear-free environment.”
  • “Why just run a commercial when you can own the whole show?”
  • “Don’t make ads; make news!”
  • “If you can find a holiday tradition to create, do it.”

Creative Impact: A vital part of any creative team is having the instigator and cheerleader for others to fully exploit their creativity. The key creative action can be green lighting those on the team who have the most creative ideas.

Wrap-Up

Hope this provides some sense of the creative possibilities shared during Bob Thacker’s presentation. He packed so many ideas into the hour, providing a real creative treat to those BMA attendees sticking around for such a strong conference finish.

Want one last Thackerism to consider every time you start contemplating a marketing effort?

“If you’re going to crash the party (via your marketing) you’d better bring a bottle of wine (a tremendously rich audience experience).”

Mike Brown

To unleash your own extreme creative possibilities, download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to ignite 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 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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Can you find strategic marketing lessons at a transportation marketing conference applicable to a broader audience? It was definitely possible at last week’s Transportation Marketing & Sales Association conference. I was there to speak on social media for business-to-business marketers and was happy to see a lot of strategic marketing lessons directly relevant to Brainzooming topics. Here are snippets from 15 strategic marketing lessons shared at the TMSA conference:

Leadership

“If you think you’re more important than others, you’re starting in a hole.”Bill Butterworth

“Whatever you want, give it away.” Joe Calhoon

Teamwork

Teams are kept from effective working relationships through poor self-confidence, unhealthy competition, lack of communication, and an inability to change. Turning non-performing teams into strong ones depends on treating people with respect, celebrating diversity within the team, and instilling a sense of personal sacrifice for the team’s success. – Bill Butterworth

Strong Performance

There are four keys to organizational performance: Having and communicating a clear strategy, executing flawlessly, creating a strong sense of trust, and cultivating a high performance culture. – Joe Calhoon

For sales and marketing alignment: Collaboration + Cooperation = Peak Performance – Peter Ostrow

“Push for the best creative there is, fight for it, and then make somebody else dilute it. Don’t do that yourself.” – Dick Metzler

Marketing’s Role

“Marketing is about strategy, understanding, and building the business. Communication is the end of the process. Marketing communications is part of it, but marketing is about strategy.” Greg Reid

“Marketing is the manipulation of perceptions for the express purpose of creating brand preference.” – Dick Metzler

Marketing Opportunities

The best marketing strategy is to ask questions in order to really know a customer. Small players can use deep understanding to pursue real opportunities to address challenging, irregular, or unexpected situations customers face. – “TMSA Why Buyers Buy Panel”

“You have to know your customer better than anyone in the company if you’re in sales and marketing.” – Greg Reid

Public Relations

When pitching a story, customize the pitch through understanding the audience the publication is trying to reach. You can provide value to the person you’re pitching by being an expert on your topic (including your company, if that’s what you’re pitching) and providing opportunities for editors to experience the potential story, if at all possible. – “TMSA Editors Panel”

Social Media

According to the panel of editors, print isn’t dead; nothing is dead. Publications are responding to new media by trying to put content into as many channels as possible. One publication has found value in its 1,000+ member LinkedIn group providing real sources for content. With the availability of more content channels, companies can benefit themselves by cultivating more spokespeople within their companies. – “TMSA Editors Panel”

Prognostication

You can’t just sit behind your desk or your computer to understand the future of your marketplace. New ideas surface through conversations and at industry meetings before they reach publications. – “TMSA Why Buyers Buy Panel”

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur (via Peter Ostrow)

Advice for Presenters

“Speakers should have a good opening, and a good finish, and keep them as close to each other as possible.” – Joe Calhoon

 

Mike Brown

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand strategy and implementation efforts.

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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3

Following-up Friday’s post on Seth Godin and his presentation at the BMA Unleash conference, this video was from the close of his lunch presentation. Michael Krauss of Market Strategy Group asked Seth Godin what the attendees should discuss over lunch. His response was to share our unreasonable fears with those at our table. The question led to a variety of comments, including several mentions of roller coasters among my lunch companions.

My answers were going to conferences and networking events such as BMA and driving across really big bridges.

After saying my unreasonable fears, it maybe did become a little easier to network. I haven’t had the opportunity yet to drive across a big bridge.

What about you? What are your unreasonable fears? Mike Brown

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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5

When seeing a music superstar in concert you hope for a greatest hits performance covering their best recordings. You really hope the hits sound something like the original songs. You realize some songs you wanted to hear won’t get played. And nobody’s surprised when the artist beats a hasty retreat for the door at the performance’s conclusion.

Why should it be any different when you see a superstar blogger/author such as Seth Godin? Yet there were grumblings about him simply going over topics straight from his books and questions about why he departed so quickly from his Business Marketing Association Unleash luncheon keynote last week.

If you ask me, Seth Godin put on a veteran rock star performance.

I’ll admit to thinking Seth Godin is a lot better blogger than book author. His blogs are focused and insightful. His books, however, seem like under-edited compilations of blog posts with focus replaced by redundancy. In person, he equaled his blogging performance – a few big ideas, lots of pithy quotes, and stories (both old and modern) to set it all up smartly.

Rather than try and play back all of his remarks, here are paraquotes from six themes Seth Godin touched upon which resonated with me:

NOW

Seth Godin admitted he can’t really address what’s next since change is so rapid and dramatic. The best he can do is talk about what’s now. And now, in the digital age, everyone has access to the means of production – a laptop and a high-speed internet connection. While making things was difficult in the past, it’s now relatively easy. The digital revolution has created opportunities which go against our instincts; the act of giving freely is one of them. Ideas that spread are ideas that win.

ART

Your job is not figuring out how to show up one more day at work and still get paid. Your job is to figure out how to use what you do as a platform for art. And what’s art? Art is a human being solving a problem in a way it’s never been solved before.

VALUE

If you want to reap the rewards of value, realize we give all the value to people who are solving problems in new ways. The second person to solve the problem isn’t getting the value anymore. In solving problems, you have to consider the experience. We pay for the way an experience addresses our needs because there is value in the experience.

FEAR

There’s a difference between being fearless and reckless. Strong entrepreneurs are calculated and fearless, not reckless. We spend a lot of time building our fears by imagining problems in advance. This happens because of our inner voice which tries to protect us from danger. As soon as you can talk back to your internal voice, you’ll know you’re working on the right things when it (“The Resistance,” as Seth calls it) surfaces. That’s when to keep going.

ADVANTAGE

It’s your job to invent the new product which sells itself. Don’t base your business on your customers not having a lot of knowledge, because they can find things out elsewhere. Competence alone doesn’t cut it either; competence isn’t scarce. If you can write down how to do something, it can be done more cheaply by someone else.

PERFORMANCE

Avoid models that work like bowling, where perfection is the best you can do. In bowling there is no reward or even possibility of over-the-top performance. Instead, find work you can do that’s off the charts. – Mike Brown

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand strategy and implementation efforts.

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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2

The underlying green principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle aren’t just for environmental matters. You can also apply these green principles to your blogging. For those of us who create a lot of content, blog sustainability is a matter of creative survival.

Reduce

1. The number of words

Writing fewer words can save blogging time, if you start with that objective. Writing long posts and editing them to be short, however, can take a disproportionately long time. When you set out to write a shorter post (i.e. in the 100 – 200 word range), going in with a brief outline can make reducing words a real time saver.

2. Time spent writing

Get a kitchen timer, and set a limit on how long you’ll spend writing a blog post. Forcing yourself to write for only 20 minutes on a single post gets you in great practice for writing quickly AND shortly.

3. Posting frequency

If you’re struggling with the posting schedule you have, consider reducing how often you post. You don’t HAVE to write every day. Pick a less frequent schedule, communicate it to your readers, and stay consistent with the new schedule as you enjoy your new free time.

Reuse

4. Your links

Face it: not everybody is reading everything you’re posting. Plus (fingers crossed), you’re picking up new readers all the time. If you have major subject in your blog, link back to earlier pieces that expand on the points you’re making in a current post.

5. Popular posts

Look at your Google Analytics and see what readers have been reading the most. Create posts which highlight popular posts built around specific topic areas your readers enjoy.

6. Images

Just because you’ve used an image once doesn’t mean it can’t be used again. Get proficient on basic editing software – crop a picture to focus on specific, different elements within it. Add effects to it as a way to use an image for multiple posts.

Recycle

7. Popular post themes

Update popular topics or combine them into longer, more comprehensive articles. You could also build on comments readers shared and turn those into related posts.

8. List posts

List posts are often more about the list and less about the explanatory text associated with each item. Pull out a single item from a list post and expand it into a more fully-developed blog post.

9. Multiple posts

Take multiple posts on a specific subject and aggregate them into an article or ebook you can offer as a download on your blog.

How Creatively Green Is Your Blog?

Try these 9 ideas and you’ll be doing your part for blog sustainability. What other ways do you reduce, reuse, or recycle with your blog? Mike Brown


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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help your organization make a successful first step into social media.

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’ve talked about guerrilla marketing before on the Brainzooming blog. One reason? We use a strategic thinking exercise in strategy sessions to quickly expand an organization’s understanding of the hundreds of marketing assets available to communicate its strategic messages to important audiences.

It was definitely a surprise to see guerrilla marketing talked about in a recent episode of Parks and Recreation. I’d never seen the show until very recently, but now I’m completely hooked on it. And I’m not hooked on it because they talked about guerrilla marketing . . . because the treatment of it in the Parks and Recreation is really about how NOT to do it!

Enjoy the video (and the whole episode is hilarious as well) anyway, and if you want to get real understanding on guerrilla marketing, check out these links:

– Mike Brown

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you devise a successful innovation strategy for your organization.

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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