14

Since our start, publishing five times a week (with rare exceptions) has been part of the Brainzooming blog brand. Frequent blog publishing is integral to The Brainzooming Group business-building strategy and consistent with multiple elements of our brand experience.

The priority on daily blog publishing is dropping on the importance list for now, however.

A Change in Our Brainzooming Blog Publishing Brand Promise

My wife had surgery last Thursday and has several months of recuperation (and related physical limitations) ahead of her. I’ll be more heavily involved in taking care of her, and neither one of us is completely sure what this means yet. She has done pretty well during these first days, but I do realize that making sure she’s taken care of will require more time and have a dramatic impact on my attention through the summer months.

trike-cube

With that new priority and the importance of making sure The Brainzooming Group business keeps flourishing, the place daily blogging fits within our business strategy and priorities changes.

As a result, we’re going to move to not publishing on Fridays through at least July. There may also be other weekdays in the coming months where there won’t be a Brainzooming blog.

Trust me; I realize that’s NOT the end of the world for any of you.

But for as many people who tell me they can’t possibly read the Brainzooming blog five days a week, I have others tell me its daily appearance gets it more attention than other content they could read. As a result, I don’t make this change lightly.

From a strategic standpoint, we still stand behind the business-building benefits of frequent blog publishing. We’ve reached a great stage with our website, however, where evergreen content typically generates 90% of daily website traffic for The Brainzooming Group. As a result, we feel comfortable in dialing back blogging frequency with minimal near-term impacts.

Maybe we’ll never miss an extra day. Maybe if we do miss a day, you won’t notice right away.

But for those that do notice, we wanted you to know what was going on, and to thank you for your continued readership! You’ll never know how much I appreciate it! – Mike Brown

 

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When was the last time you invested 45 minutes to evaluate your 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 a social media strategy 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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4

If you use a social media agency to create your brand’s social content, they won’t want you to read this, but who cares.

Your Social Media Agency Doesn’t Want You Reading This

Last week, I was getting my hair cut at the barber shop I’ve been going to for five years. I go there because the owner is focused on creating a cool, high service environment, there is reasonable stability among its employees, and it is close by.

Business seemed slow, and the conversation between the person who cuts my hair and another long-time employee turned to social media, in part, because they know I do “something with social media strategy.” Talking about the social media agency the owner hired to create social media content, they expressed their frustration over what was being posted on Facebook.

The big complaint was the posts either weren’t accurate (i.e., on how frequently to get a haircut) or seemed odd (a Jim Morrison quote about haircuts and mistakes).

I quickly started looking at the Facebook page. I subscribe to it, but hadn’t noticed ANY of the updates from the place’s page (I know, surprise, surprise).

The problem was clear in an instant.

On the surface, the content was VERY much in category. There was an Earth Day post of a guy whose hair and beard were green. There are quotes and pictures related to men’s’ haircuts and shaves.

Those all make sense.

Nothing on the Facebook page, however, related to the barber shop’s brand experience, personality, or people – all the things that set it apart and turn people into loyal customers.

It was if the new social media agency simply posted generic content on men’s haircuts without any other thought about how the brand related to the content. The social media agency has gone the easy route (creating external relevance) without doing the hard part of content marketing – appropriately integrating the brand so there’s a reason for current or prospective customers to care about the content in any meaningful way.

Great-Content

What Social Media Strategy Includes

This gap between content and a meaningful brand connection is common. It’s why we advocate developing a content strategy implementing the right mix of:

  • Your audience’s interests
  • Intriguing content
  • The appropriate level of brand presence.

There’s no one answer that works for all brands or even all content a brand creates.

It doesn’t work, however, to just see what your competitors are doing and launch into content marketing or simply start sharing content about what you do. If a social media agency advocates sharing content right way and figuring out the right mix later (if ever), you’ll just be wasting time/effort/money and probably making a BIG mistake that could cost your brand even more.

If this is the path you are one and want to see just how far your social media agency has led you astray, download our social media strategy diagnostics eBook and find out for yourself.

You’ll quickly realize the difference it would make to work with a partner who understands both brand strategy AND social media strategy.

That combination turns social sharing into business results. - Mike Brown

 

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When was the last time you invested 45 minutes to check your 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 a social media strategy 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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1

How many types of strategic planning are there?

And how many strategic plans do you need?

While you Google the answer, here are the types of strategic planning we see. We identified them several years ago while trying to explain what was happening in our corporation with so many different planning processes going at once.

3 Types of Strategic Planning

As best we could determine, there are three types of strategic planning.

Strategic-Planning-3

1. Strategic Direction Planning

This is the major long-range planning effort. It’s bigger, broader, and looks at an organization’s strategic foundation, performance, brand and competitive positions, and opportunities and threats to the current business model. It addresses big initiatives and major priorities to change an organization’s prospects for the better.

2. Annual Planning

As the name suggests, this is yearly planning. Many companies squeeze it into the last few months of the year to prepare for January 1 of the next year. We talk to many executives whose companies deal with annual planning as a financial exercise since they HAVE to get a financial plan in place. Too often though, the financial plan becomes disconnected from what has to happen to bring it to fruition. That leads to the third type of strategic planning.

3. Initiative Planning

This planning becomes a catch-all for whatever doesn’t get figured out in the other two planning processes. This is where it’s imperative to decide who is going to do what to move the organization ahead in a coordinated fashion. These plans typically have shorter time horizons. They are generally prepared with greater frequency, perhaps even multiple times within a year, as initiatives are readied for launch.

How many strategic plans do you need?

If you’ve got a solid strategic direction plan, you may only update it every three-to-five years.

And even though we’ve called it “annual planning,” you may be able to run annual planning on an eighteen-to-twenty four month cycle if you spell out enough detail. Initiative planning, however, pretty much happens every year IF you expect to have some type of coordinated plan to implement.

Wondering why we’ve grouped these all under “strategic planning”?

It’s because to us, strategic isn’t a description of time (i.e., near-term vs. long-term), but of the importance of what a plan is addressing. If a plan is addressing something that “matters,” then it’s strategic.

The good news in all this is if you play your processes right, you shouldn’t HAVE to do all three types of strategic planning at once! – 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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your 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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1

I’m a little sad this week because Fox Sports 1 canceled one of the few TV shows I watch outside of programming on EWTN.

“Crowd Goes Wild,” a very different take on sports programming didn’t even make it a year. The show (sometimes) featuring Regis Philbin, and a panel of much younger people than Regis with varied sports and media experience, was unequal parts:

  • CGW-PanelNews
  • Interviews
  • Game show
  • Social media monitoring
  • Comedy
  • Snark
  • Analysis
  • Live audience cheering
  • And whatever else they decided to try

You can imagine how this eclectic array of content meant you never knew what exactly was going to happen. You can also see why the eclectic content wound up dooming Crowd Goes Wild to a short run since it didn’t generate a big enough audience.

Big Strategic Change and the One Place You Better Be Looking for It

And yet, I predict (and I’m not a big predictor), time will demonstrate that Crowd Goes Wild is a noticeable influence on where boring, analysis-heavy, over-serious sports programming winds up heading in the next five years.

I’m basing my prediction on how much I enjoyed the eclecticism of the David Letterman morning show (which set the stage for Letterman’s later work and influence on talk shows) and “Breakfast Time” (which in its short run on FX in the 1990s introduced the hosts of nearly all of the most successful reality TV programs plus set the stage for the toned-down wackiness on today’s early morning TV).

For all three of these TV programs on the fringe, the absence of pre-cursors, sizable audiences, and standard formats led to truly exciting programming where you simply weren’t sure what might happen next.

And this potent combination leads to change – maybe not right away, and not for whoever goes first, but for the marketplace overall.

So when it comes to looking for big strategic change in your business, are you looking on the fringes where new things are happening outside of mainstream attention?

If you want to understand where the change is likely to come from in your marketplace, consider the equivalent spot where:

  • The audience is small
  • The stakes are low
  • The expectations are fluid

Go to school on the fringes and see what changes it suggests for your organization’s future. Mike Brown

 

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on big strategic change will boost your organization’s success!

 

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

A recent Dilbert comic strip where the boss has a meeting to request on employee ideas definitely falls into the “more pathetic and true than funny” Dilbert category. But then again, when Dilbert isn’t going for pure laughs, there is usually a bigger point to be made about what is messed up in business.

In this case, the boss opens up the meeting with the employees looking for “billion dollar productideas.”

By the time Dilbert and Wally point out that if they had billion dollar ideas they’d do them on their own, the boss winds up with the ideas his question deserves: “a phone with a wooden screen” and a “drone that attacks anyone who looks at it.”

Dilbert.com

Screwing Up How to Request Employee Ideas

If you REALLY want input from your employees to help your business, you obviously don’t ask for “billion dollar ideas.” But then again, you also shouldn’t describe the employee ideas you’re looking for as:

  • Big (or The Next Big)
  • Great
  • Implementable
  • Smart
  • High Impact
  • Strategic
  • New
  • Disruptive
  • Game-changing
  • Unique

Feel free to add to this list any other descriptor that causes your employees to “judge” their ideas before sharing them.

When you describe the types of ideas you want in a way that implies they need to be judged before they are shared, you’ve mingled divergent and convergent thinking into one. The result is you’ll miss ideas with tremendous potential because you forced employees to self-evaluate them properly and potentially hoard them because they’re too good.

Far better to simply ask for ideas.

Or even better, ask employees to share:

  • Challenges your customers are facing with what you offer
  • Challenges your employees are facing in delivering what you offer
  • Work arounds being used to make your organization’s processes more effective
  • Things your customers have been complaining about or asking for that have gone unaddressed

None of these involve any judgment, but any of them could have a major impact on your success if you address them successfully.

Be careful what you ask for when it comes to soliciting employees ideas. If you don’t request employee ideas in a way that opens to the door for participation, you’ll wind up with exactly the opposite of what you wanted in the first place. – 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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand’s innovation strategy and implementation success.

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

How thoroughly do you understand what triggers your creative thinking skills?

If you need to be (or it FEELS like you need to be) on top of your creative thinking game all the time, you don’t want to become stuck in the creative doldrums without an answer for how your next idea will emerge.

Here’s a 10-minute trick to inspire your creativity when you REALLY need it.

And it isn’t just for people in jobs seen as “creative.” This works for executives, content creators, or anyone else who simply needs the inspiration to routinely come up with new ideas – big or small.

A 6-Question Inspiration Inventory

When you need new creative thinking, you want to be able to rapidly construct a situation to support creativity, even if it seems as if you’re feeling anything but creative at that moment.

Here’s one answer to doing this.Thinker

Take ten minutes when you ARE feeling creative and begin answering these six who-what-where-when-why-how questions about your creativity:

  • Who boosts your creative thinking?
  • What situations inspire you?
  • Where can you go to refresh your creative thinking?
  • When do you feel like you’re at your strongest creatively?
  • Why does your creativity flourish when it does?
  • How have you triggered new creative thinking before when you’ve been stuck?

Then some other time this week, take another 10 minutes to add to this inspiration inventory; do it again a few days later, too.

After a couple of rounds of noodling on these creative thinking questions, you’ll have created an incredible creativity menu you can use to push yourself out of the creative doldrums we all face. You can use a single idea or a combination of items from your inspiration inventory routinely or when you most need a particular creative thinking boost.

Creative Thinking Skills and Your Inspiration Inventory

Working on your personal inspiration inventory will be the best 30 minutes you invest in your creativity all week.

And as someone who has to come up with five or more new blog ideas weekly, plus new ideas for clients daily, and for other activities, trust me: an inspiration inventory works wonders! – 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 816-509-5320 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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3

Not sure whether your brand should invest in its innovation strategy right now?

10 Signs to Invest in Your Brand’s Innovation Strategy

Review these ten signs about your brand’s innovation strategy needs attention right away. See how many of these sound like your organization.

Innovation-Strategy

  1. Sales growth with current customers is not meeting expectations.
  2. Your product offerings don’t match the decision factors driving why clients select providers in your marketplace.
  3. When you look out five years and project how your brand will be performing in the marketplace, you can’t explain how or why you’ll be successful.
  4. You have employees leaving your company to start businesses disrupting your core business.
  5. There are brands looking nothing like your company circling around the fringes of your industry.
  6. You have only a trace (or less) of revenue coming from products less than two years old.
  7. The management group doesn’t think innovation is all that important for the company’s success.
  8. There are intriguing ideas bubbling up in your organization but employees don’t have productive outlets to develop them.
  9. Your company says innovation is important but no senior leader is on the hook to turn ideas into results.
  10. You aren’t investing in innovation right now.

If you more than a couple of these are familiar, you need to take a hard look at the need to invest in innovation. And if number 10 sounds describes your brand, even if none of the others do, you definitely need to invest in innovation and shore up your innovation strategy – right away! – Mike Brown

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

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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand’s innovation strategy and implementation success.

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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