Branding | The Brainzooming Group - Part 2 – page 2
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I’m scheduled for a background interview today on creating a thought leadership strategy. The interview is an outgrowth of an eBook on thought leadership. The eBook came from a workshop someone did at a conference I’ve spoken at many times. I suspect when someone asked a question at the workshop about who the audience considered as thought leaders, a long-time friend was audacious enough to suggest my name.

While I’m sure it was a completely sincere gesture, I think pursuing a thought leadership strategy isn’t something a brand or an individual should do.

You ARE NOT a Thought Leader

thought-leadership-strategy

My personal antipathy toward a thought leadership strategy stems from a situation during my corporate life. A peer was developing a “think piece” on the transportation industry and our company’s place in its future. When it finally reached our department, the cover email mentioned my co-worker had already shared the document with all the company’s thought leaders.

That struck a teammates (who is incredibly smart and savvy) and me as a telling statement about how far we were from being thought leaders. We took a vow to never pursue or try to claim thought leadership status from that day forward since the overwhelming evidence (at least in that email) was that we weren’t.

That incident and a strategic desire to live behind (and not in front of) the Brainzooming brand means we’ve not addressed pursuing a thought leadership strategy as a topic here – other than Woody Bendle’s hilarious and completely on-target perspective about “So You May Be a Thought Leader.” We have also never pitched a client on developing a thought leadership strategy or influencer marketing program.

Trying to craft a strategy around promoting your brand or yourself as a leader based on thinking certain things is a poor and mistakenly inward-focused strategy.

That’s why I tried to get out of the interview after seeing the questions and realizing all my answers would be negative. The interviewer persisted and suggested the article may be focused on providing a contrarian view of pursuing a thought leadership strategy.

What to Say about a Thought Leadership Strategy?

Trying to form positive recommendations about a thought leadership strategy that still recognize a brand’s intent to share its message, here are alternative strategies brands should  consider:

A Servant Leadership Strategy

Identify the incredible ways you can serve customers. Serve and benefit customers in ways no other brand has done, then write about the impact of putting customers first.

A Value Leadership Strategy

Provide more benefits to customers than you would ever be able to charge for on a routine basis. Push your brand to incredible leadership in delivering value. Then write about how a value advantage makes a huge difference for customers.

An Employee Leader Strategy

Pursue leadership through inviting your employees to participate in shaping your organization’s direction. Help employees develop as leaders. After that, write about the impact awaiting other organizations when they embrace broad employee involvement.

A Humility Leadership Strategy

Serve your community, individuals, the unfortunate, and underdogs in extraordinary ways. Create impact through helping others that can’t help themselves in tangible ways. But then DON’T write about those stories. Allow the people you’ve helped to decide whether and how THEY will communicate what you’ve done.

What to do?

Those are all ways we’ve tried to create stories that first and foremost benefit the audience, then incorporate positive brand messages.

Companies and individuals that try to lead in these areas are ones to emulate because they are DOING great things, not simply THINKING about things and trying to create a cult of thought leadership. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Involving Employees In Your Strategy

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Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

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  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

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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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A recent Brainzooming article on changing your personal backstory recommended ensuring how you think about, describe, and conduct yourself maximizes the positive sentiments you generate among others. One input to revise your personal backstory is to ask how others see you. This suggestions prompted a question on what you should ask others (and how you should ask them) to get the best input for reshaping your backstory.

Ask people in a format that allows them to respond anonymously. You want to increase the likelihood they are going to share unvarnished sentiments with you. The easiest way to accomplish that is likely through some type of online survey.

7 Questions to Ask Others about Your Personal Backstory

personal-backstory-erase

Here are specific questions based off of those we use when developing personality-based brands. The input you will receive can help you decide what to add to and erase from your personal backstory:

  1. In a few sentences, what are your perceptions of who I am?
  2. What are words you associate with me?
  3. What are negative things you associate with me?
  4. What are positive things you associate with me?
  5. If you were introducing me to someone else, what would you say to them?
  6. In what capacity do you know me – professional, personal, or both?
  7. What’s our level of contact – used to be greater than it is now, it’s greater now than it used to be, or it’s been fairly consistent over time?

It would be great to be a bit more specific on the last two questions. You don’t want to be so specific about relationship questions, however, that people feel as if their answers will tip off who they are.

Across even five to ten people you should have a richer set of input than if you tried to revise your personal backstory based on your own thinking. – Mike Brown

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on social media and content marketing can boost your success!

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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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Waiting at O’Hare airport for my flight, another business traveler stopped in front of me, and asked, “Mike Brown?”

Content-Marketing-Strateg-O

He was a former corporate sales executive where I used to work. He’d been pointed in my direction to talk about content marketing strategy and social media and just happened to run into me in the hallway at O’Hare. He is now the C-level sales and marketing executive at a B2B service company.

His big question about social media and content marketing strategy was, “Why would a B2B company engage in these areas?” He’d never heard of a B2B company gaining business from their efforts.

Incredible as that statement may sound, I understand his reluctance. I told him The Brainzooming Group is a B2B company, and we gain business from our social media and content marketing strategy. And we are definitely NOT by ourselves in that!

8 Reasons a B2B Company Should Engage in Social Media

content-marketing-social-media

For a B2B company, a content marketing strategy, along with a social media presence, allows it to:

Those are only eight reasons. There are plenty more.

Those provide a fantastic starting point for identifying and quantifying the benefits for a B2B company to dive into content marketing – even if it feels late to the game to start! – Mike Brown

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

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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 shouldn’t be a newsflash, but it needs to be said: You are completely free to edit your personal backstory.

Each of us has a backstory.

A personal backstory is what we say about ourselves (along with our behaviors, physical cues, and beliefs that may speak louder than our words) about how we reached where we are right now. A backstory provides others an important input toward beginning to form perceptions about you.

Ideally, your backstory provides a strong representation of your path to where you are and helps people quickly understand where you can benefit them (and where they might be able to benefit you).

In a less than ideal situation, your personal backstory can limit you in who you start believing you are, what you can imagine yourself doing, and even the people you associate with personally and professionally.

Your Personal Backstory Can Change

Personal-Backstory

That brings us back to the starting point: there is nothing to stop you if you want to edit your personal backstory to serve you better than it does right now.

I was chatting with a friend that has lost touch with some of her talents and very positive characteristics. She hasn’t used certain talents as fully as she did in the years leading up to her current job. These talents have essentially disappeared from how she thinks and talks about herself with others.

We discussed the benefit from editing her backstory to open up possibilities or make her diverse experiences work hard to boldly communicate in professional settings.

What’s your personal backstory?

Is it helping or hurting you?

While you may have some sense of how others perceive your backstory, it’s worthwhile to ask them. Talk to people around you (both very and less familiar with you) that can help you better understand how your backstory plays for them.

If the personal backstory others perceive isn’t serving you well, edit and revise it to serve you better.

No one is going to stop you. It’s yours to decide. – Mike Brown

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on social media and content marketing can boost your success!

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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 mentioned upcoming business collaboration opportunities for Brainzooming yesterday, including co-presentations, creating content, and developing new workshop and training offerings.

What to look for in a business collaboration?

Shame on me, but I’ve never put the criteria I look for from a business collaboration into the type of strategic decision making tool we develop for clients. The criteria are in my head. There is a time for everything, however.

Business-Collaboration-2

Here are criteria to evaluate when considering business collaborations:

  • There is a clear way we can be of help to the collaborator.
  • The collaborator brings something different (and complementary) to what we do and offer.
  • The other party shares comparable core business values to us.
  • There is a mutual commitment to learning from the business collaboration.
  • The collaboration will yield mutual benefits.
  • Beyond learning more from the collaboration’s outcomes, it should provide an opportunity to learn about each other and our brand.
  • The collaboration helps us grow in a new way.
  • The collaboration helps us reach a new audience.
  • With an event-based collaboration, it provides opportunities to extend it in strategically smart ways.
  • The other party is as enthusiastic about the possibilities from the collaboration as we are.
  • The collaboration doesn’t have to be completely aligned with what we are trying to do, but giving attention to the collaboration won’t become a distraction to important goals.
  • There is a clear motivation for both of us to invest in the collaboration to make it as successful as possible.
  • There is a mutual contribution from both parties toward the strategy and ideas.
  • There won’t be a big exit cost if the collaboration doesn’t develop successfully.
  • The investment and work to make the collaboration successful is spread among both parties, even if the types of investment in it are markedly different.

There may be more, but thinking back on business collaborations from the past few years, those items characterize the decision making and expected impacts of our varied collaborations.  Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Employees to Improve Strategic Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategic planning and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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

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 suspect many, if not most industries, know there’s an elusive brand promise customers have been requesting for a long time that no competitor has figured out yet.

Or maybe a competitor HAS figured out how to deliver the brand promise, but it can’t do it profitably, efficiently, or consistently.

One competitive response is to try to explain to customers why they don’t really need what they think they need. Alternatively, competitors may try to convince customers they don’t really want to buy the elusive brand promise they say they want to buy, no matter how vehemently the marketplace may say otherwise.

A bold competitor, however, will heavy up with tremendous intensity and deliver the incredible, elusive brand promise in a truly disruptive fashion.

10xMoreEffort

What type of competitor are you going to be?

One that drags its feet?

Or the competitor that drags all the other competitors kicking and screaming into a new market reality.

Of course, you know what the RIGHT answer is! – Mike Brown

 

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At the 2016 Brand Strategy Conference, Antonia Dean, Director – Marketing, Brand Development, & Strategy at The Estée Lauder Companies covered the strategic thinking ideas behind creating an entrepreneurial environment in a large company. In her role, Antonia Dean focuses on incubating acquisitions and top-secret new product concepts.

The charge for Dean’s organization at ELC Ventures is to develop ideas to shake up Estee Lauder and the cosmetics industry. Moving as fast as the company’s fastest competitor demanded an entrepreneurial approach. Her experience has uncovered multiple ideas for how to create newness and build an entrepreneurial culture and spirit within an established parent organization.

Antonia-Dean

16 Strategic Thinking Ideas for Creating an Entrepreneurial Environment Inside Your Company

Dean related her internal entrepreneurship (or “intrapreneurship”) lessons in three areas of strategic thinking: building the team, creating the culture, and defining success.

Building the Team

  • The first step in team building is identifying the rights tasks requiring entrepreneurism. Not all business areas need or want an entrepreneurial approach and the upsides (and challenges) that come along with a cultural force that can run counter to the rest of the organization. If there is not an overwhelming upside to intrapreneurism, do not try to bring those functions into the team.
  • Relative to specific team members, the successful entrepreneurs in an established organization are not necessarily the individuals the organization typically promotes because of following the rules. They are not the people achieving the longest tenure. The people you want in a start-up inside an established organization are always making up their own steps. They possess the talents, determination, and persistence that an organization cannot successfully constrain.
  • A great way to check for an entrepreneurial attitude is to ask prospective team members if they believe in the internal start-up’s cause and what attracts them to it. Ask them to provide concrete examples of when they devised creative solutions.
  • Intrapreneurs need their space in more ways than one. Not only do they need freedom from organizational policies and procedures, it is ideal to get them away physically from the rest of the organization. A separate office is ideal to provide greater latitude.
  • Mix people up across departments and functions. You need to get the right combinations of people working together, not isolated within an area of functional expertise.

Creating the Culture

  • Make it clear and entrepreneurial initiative within a bigger organization is completely different. It’s a great time to ask what about the parent organization was once positive but not persists without providing value or helping accelerate the entrepreneurial cause. Get rid of these things.
  • When creating the new culture, think “lowercase b.” This is not BIG business with the standard procedures. Cultivate a fail fast AND fail cheap attitude. You need to be able to come up with ideas and launch them with little overhead and investment so you do not stick with a bad idea too long because of sunk costs.
  • Enforce a VIP list, i.e., keep participation in the new venture exclusive. Do not let individuals from the main organization attach themselves or intrude unnecessarily, or you run the risk of slowing the entrepreneurial venture’s pace. Over-involving internal experts also leads to sanitizing ideas and adding unnecessary costs.
  • Do not automatically copy your boss on emails about the entrepreneurial venture, just to be safe. Doing so simply takes up time for others and invites unnecessary activities.
  • Extend and shape the culture by going out into the market to experience what is happening. It defeats the purpose to setup an intrapreneurial organization that does not bring in outside influences.
  • Expect turnover in the team. When you are protecting the culture, people that do not fit will become apparent and be gone soon.

Defining Success

  • Adopt the attitude of working “out of the basement.” A strong question to challenge significant resource requests is, “If we were starting this out of mom’s basement, would we spend this money?”
  • Make friends with failure. Accept the bare minimum to move forward and be ready to “fail cheap.” Do not expect or demand perfection when you only need directional answers to be able to keep advancing with an idea or concept.
  • Explicitly redefine success as something different from what success looks like in the parent organization. Put together the success recipe based on learning from failure and moving forward.
  • Repeat this mantra: “Rocky failed, but Rocky won. Embrace failure as a given. WE ARE GOING TO FAIL AT SOMETHING.”
  • Find and embrace the easy answers. You don’t know how to get a UPC code attached to a new product? Google for the answer instead of seeking out the internal expert. Not sure what the right marketing language is? Talk to your target consumers and see what words and phrases they use.

Antonia Dean’s strategic thinking ideas made it clear an entrepreneurial environment will not develop inside your company if you are too clingy to what has worked previously yet has grown stale and bloated. Start new, fresh, and lean, with a true appreciation for moving with speed, persistence, and a thick skin relative to failure!   Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Employees to Improve Strategic Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategic planning and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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

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.

More Posts - Website

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