5

Last Monday, I spoke on social media strategy for long-time reader Becky Johnston’s graduate level marketing class at UMKC. There were approximately 25 smart, early-career students in her marketing class.

We were talking about social media’s pervasiveness across customer service touchpoints in a business. I shared Chris Brogan’s opinion on providing front line customer contact employees some mini-version of media relations to better prepare them to deal with customers using social media to broadcast the customer experience. I asked, as I frequently do, who had heard of Chris Brogan. And as frequently happens, not one student raised a hand.

Yes, nobody knew who Chris Brogan was.

For many of us heavily into social media, and Twitter especially, we could better tell you Chris Brogan’s strategic perspective on the topics of the day than we could those of a relatively close relative. I rarely interact with most of my cousins, but I’m checking in multiple times weekly, if not daily, to see what Chris is tweeting and writing about on social media, marketing, strategy, and any other topic he decides to cover.

But kids, we aren’t normal.

So beyond Chris Brogan, who is legitimately a social media rock star, there are lots of other lesser-known great thinkers whose strategic ideas may not be seeing the light of day among important business contacts you have.

There are a lot of people we do business with (peers, bosses, employees, clients) who never see the great strategic insights being shared online in what are common social media channels to some, but not common at all for many very intelligent, active, successful business people.

Which brings us to the question: Are you retweeting IRL?

By that I mean, beyond simply RTing great content you’re seeing via social media, are you:

  • Referring to it in business conversations?
  • Sharing it in staff meetings?
  • Printing articles and posting them on bulletin boards or sending them to others?
  • Emailing links to business associates?
  • Incorporating these perspectives into presentations you’re doing?

Because while a retweet (or a Digg or a Like) is easy and provides the sense you’ve shared what you think is relevant with the world, there are many people who’d benefit from the content that are never seeing it.

So do them a favor, after you RT it online, RT it IRL too! 

BTW, in case you’re interested, you can take a look at the Prezi of the social media strategy overview below. – 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 develop an integrated social media strategy for your brand.

 

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

Our pastor, Fr. Don Cullen, was teaching an adult religious education class recently, talking about lessons learned in more than three decades of religious life.

One lesson was when a child hands you a picture he or she has made, starts to tell you about it, and then looks for your reaction, the correct thing to say is, “Tell me more.”

Not only does “tell me more” work in this instance, it got me thinking about all the other business and life situations in which it’s the best thing to say such as when:

  • Somebody is telling you about a confusing situation and is looking for a reaction
  • You’re stumped for an answer when someone asks you a question
  • Another person is on the verge of figuring out a dilemma they’re struggling with
  • You’re learning valuable new information from someone

Since it seems like at least one of these situations crops up daily, I’m trying to say, “Tell me more,” much more frequently. – 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.  To learn how we can bring out the best innovative thinking in your team email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320.

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

We were working with a client who is very quality-focused in all aspects of its product strategy. One of its brand elements is engineering products for extensive longevity, equating quality and durability in its brand promise.

While this strategy is part of supporting a premium price point for its product line, our interviews suggested the brand was not getting full credit in the market for its quality/durability combo. Beyond that, it was in fact being hurt in some segments where the durability it provides isn’t necessary, and potential customers are unwilling to pay the premium. The result is very low share in some potentially attractive segments.

We suggested a strategy of unbundling quality and durability in its corporate mindset as a way to potentially open up new opportunities. We advanced the idea that quality be viewed as a predictable relationship between product age and expected performance. By opening up this strategic view, we tried to get the client to see possibilities in producing a very high quality product engineered for a shorter life cycle than its typical line. If it can take costs out as a result, it could still represent a strong margin possibility while creating new strategic market opportunities it doesn’t have a shot at currently.

You may want to take a look at your own product and service strategy to see if you’ve co-mingled attributes which might make sense for your business needs (i.e., we can charge more if our products last longer) but don’t deliver the greatest maximum value for customers (i.e., those with no intention of keeping your products for as long as they’ll last).

If your brand isn’t getting full credit for everything it delivers, explore strategic opportunities to pull apart co-mingled attributes to create growth and emerging strategic opportunities. – 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 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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1

We met with a client to think through a strategy to protect its organization’s market research knowledge. Protecting its market understanding was especially important since its market research analysis staff shrunk dramatically the last few years with no replacements planned any time soon.

As with many companies, this one has undergone dramatic brand strategy changes: old brands have gone away, new brands have emerged, and significant alterations have taken place nearly everywhere else. The central question was what historical market research data to re-organize and retain along with what market research data to let go.

Our recommended strategy called for retaining and prioritizing four types of information from market research reports. If you’re also facing a situation of tremendous change and a proliferation of available data, this list will help in considering what market research to retain:

  • Methodology / Structural Background – Hang on to what you’ve learned about the right and wrong ways to use market research in talking with your marketplace. There’s never a good reason to re-learn the ins and outs of doing market research in your particular business, particularly when you don’t have as many people in place to do the actual market research. Another keeper? Market research surveys which allow you to reference specific survey questions that have been productive.
  • What’s Important to Customers – You want to preserve tracking information on what’s important to buyers, especially if it’s derived importance data (i.e., statistically determined insights on what predicts customer behaviors and perceptions).  If your market research budget is squeezed and you have to move to stated importance on surveys (where customers simply say what they think is important), it’s beneficial to have derived importance data as a reference point, even if it’s slightly dated.
  • Keep Inputs for Market Sizing and Forecasting – For many business markets, there are no readily available sources of syndicated or third party data to actively size a market, especially in specific niches. In those cases, primary business-to-business market research may be the only reliable source to gauge market trends. Make sure to keep elements which help estimate sizes and forecasts for the markets you serve. Even with change going on, you can adjust and modify when you start with a solid, even somewhat historical, knowledge base.
  • Work that Will Demonstrate Value – Even if dated, retain market research reports which demonstrate where research contributed value to the business previously – backing up positive business decisions, challenging what were (or would have been) poor strategic decisions, or forward-looking predictions that ultimately come to fruition. You always want the raw materials to demonstrate value you’ve provided when trying to make a case for greater customer understanding.

That’s our take on the subject. What types of historical market research data do you prioritize within your company? – 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 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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1

Beginning this week, I’m launching a string of innovation training presentations and speaking appearances in the next six weeks, concentrated on two primary presentation topics from The Brainzooming Group: generating innovative business ideas and social media strategy.

Several presentations are around the Kansas City area plus I’ll also be in Milwaukee and Minneapolis for strategy presentations open to the public through the local Business Marketing Association chapters.

Here’s the current schedule along with links to registration and background information on the presentations. If you’re in the area, it would be great to see you!

Would your organization like to offer its employees or members greater understanding and actionable tools in business strategy, innovation, creativity, branding, and social media?

If so, call (816-509-5320) or email me (brainzooming@gmail.com) to see how we can bring the Brainzooming message and experience to your organization. – Mike Brown

When it comes to training, conferences, and high impact, actionable presentations, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can make your event more successful!

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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This is for all those business people who still operate under the mistaken belief brand strategy is simply about logos, colors, and design.

A recent court decision has to be a rude awakening – at least in the area covered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – where watching and participating in food being prepared in a restaurant is considered an integral part of the customer experience for a brand.

The ruling against Chipotle restaurants was based on a claim by Maurizio Antoninetti (who is confined to a wheelchair) that the Chipotle chain’s 45-inch dividing wall around its food prep counter prevented him from participating in the “full Chipotle experience” as his food was being prepared.

Chipotle offers a variety of accommodations to disabled patrons, including letting them view ingredients in cups, taste ingredients, and have their food prepared tableside. All of these, however, were found insufficient substitutes in presenting the full customer experience of the brand. As a result of the ruling, Chipotle has begun retrofitting the walls and changing future restaurant designs to comply with the ruling.

There you have it brand strategy fans.

A customer’s active co-creation role in selecting and guiding the preparer in how a food item is assembled is an integral part of the customer experience for a brand.

While some are raising questions about the plaintiff’s motives and whether the court decision makes sense, our brand strategy angle in covering the story here is there’s legal proof that even tangible products have customer experience and co-creation dimensions in their brands. That’s a strategic branding judgment you’ll find all kinds of support for here at Brainzooming! – 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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Geoffrey Allison, the SIX STRING cpaTM , reached out on Twitter recently about guest posting on strategy and planning. His tweet led to an in-person lunch where I learned more about Geoffrey’s career and his combination of finance and music.

With over 17 years of business experience, Geoffrey holds two undergraduate degrees, Business Administration and Accounting, as well as an MBA.  The title of one of his first compositions was “The Six String CPA”, and he now thoughtfully merges his love of both rock guitar and finance in his consulting work via his trademark SIX STRING cpaTM.  When Geoff is not busy working on various ideas and ventures he is building up a new charity, Building a Bookshelf, that he started with his wife.

I’m always a huge fan of whole-brain finance people (especially those similar to long-time reader Cory Christensen who combine the mathematical underpinnings of music and finance), so it was great to get to know Geoffrey better and share his take on strategic planning with you:

Strategy Development: A New Take

Spend any time in the business world and you will quickly learn building a successful business is as much art as science. And one can approach the building of their business similarly to creating a musical composition. Put the pieces together in a manner so that you create a business that is a unique expression of what you need and want to accomplish. More importantly, creating a unique business establishes a competitive advantage that is harder for competitors to mimic and may create increasing value.

Phrasing is a very powerful technique in the musical world. A portion of the Wikipedia definition for Musical Phrasing says : “Phrasing refers to an expressive shaping of music, and relates to this shaping of notes in time. Phrasing relates to the manner of playing the individual notes of a particular group of consecutive notes; and the way they are weighted and shaped relative to one another…”  For example, if I am developing a rock riff for electric guitar, I can end the riff by playing an “A” note located on the fifth fret of the low “E” string or  by playing the open fifth “A” string.  Numerous other combinations and permutations exist too. The result of phrasing is very interesting. Not only does the riff sound slightly different but changing the phrasing of the riff allows the composer to plan ahead and setup the next phrase.

Phrasing in a musical context adds uniqueness, expression, flair, originality and makes it more memorable. In the world of popular music, being memorable means a much higher chance of commercial success.  So to me, it only makes sense that we start to think of strategy creation and business planning in a similar context, and I use the term Business Component Phrasing™.  There are so many components to every business endeavor: capital, labor, materials, creativity (entrepreneurship), marketing programs, customer service, training and development, manufacturing processes; etc.  It is enough to make even the smartest, most well intentioned business owner go cock-eyed. Organization is clearly needed!  Organization is so important that that is represented by the letter “O” in the R.O.CK. Star Business Method™ that I created.

An overarching strategy clearly defining an organization’s vision, mission and purpose guides the decisions on how to develop, fund and execute against all of these various business components. Many business owners never take the time to employ any type of strategy development whatsoever, knowing intuitively that an organized approach through strategy development will make their business more successful.  So why isn’t strategy development done regularly? Because strategy development is boring – Snoozeville? As someone who spent years in strategy development roles I can say that it can be. But it does not need to be if some methodology is employed that allows strategy development to generate from a creative and fun perspective.

Business Component Phrasing™ is a way to inject some creativity into business planning and strategy development by reminding the business owner to think about what “NOTES” they want to emphasize in their business. Determine how you want your business to be different and ORGANIZE it in a manner that drives the business in that direction, building competitive advantage(s) along the way.  Think of the Organization of your business endeavor as your unique musical composition and think of strategy development as nothing more than the phrasing of various business components (like the notes in a song). You will be much more likely to be energized when engaged in the process.  Get out there and proactively build a unique enterprise; make it memorable; and make it your own! – Geoffrey Allison, the SIX STRING cpaTM

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The Brainzooming blog has a wonderful group of guest authors who regularly contribute their perspectives on strategy, creativity, and innovation. You can view guest author posts by clicking on the link below.

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