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I will admit to not being the most perceptive person in the world.

Even if I would not admit it, however, my wife would tell you that (assuming she reads the blog, which she does not).

In any event, over the course of my career – and I’m sure yours as well – it’s been imperative to get better at addressing the right strategic thinking questions to read other people’s interests, priorities, and behaviors. This is vital to making sure we can help someone else be more successful. Often, there is a clear tie between facilitating overall business success and whether you can assist an individual leader in becoming more personally successful.

What do you watch for to get a good read on someone else?

This question surfaced recently while trying to anticipate whether someone would engage and actually take action to move an initiative ahead. Up until that point, the person was talking a good game, but not delivering on the talk.

21 Strategic Thinking Questions for Reading Someone Else

read-other-person

This is not an exhaustive list of strategic thinking questions for reading someone else, but it is the list running through the back of my head based on this recent experience:

  1. What things intrigue this person?
  2. Where does he/she spend her time?
  3. Does the time investment match up with what money, words, and visible behaviors suggest are most important?
  4. What is the ratio over time between this person being successful and falling short?
  5. What events or patterns always happen when the person is successful?
  6. What events or patterns always happen when the person falls short?
  7. How does the person talk about others?
  8. What do other people around this person have to say about him/her?
  9. Is the person timely most of the time?
  10. Do they focus on the big picture, the details, or both?
  11. Do they get it right on the big picture, the details, or both?
  12. Does this person act in largely consistent patterns, and if so, what are they?
  13. Is this person predictable or not?
  14. If the person isn’t predictable, are they predictably unpredictable or not?
  15. How can you fit seemingly disconnected pieces about the person into a bigger story that suggests future behavior?
  16. What personal strengths does he/she gravitate toward?
  17. Which personal strengths does he/she avoid?
  18. What personal weaknesses doesn’t this person realize?
  19. How often does the person do what he/she says?
  20. How often does the person do things he/she doesn’t talk about in advance?
  21. Can this person think outside him/herself, or is it all about what’s good for him/her?

What does your arsenal of strategic thinking questions for reading others include? – Mike Brown

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The “Inside the Executive Suite” weekly feature from the Armada Executive Intelligence Brief newsletter featured a branding strategy-focused article on developing messaging strategy. The central issue was an apparent lack of understanding among some seasoned executives about what “messaging a story” means. One belief was that messaging strategy implied a brand “lying” to make an audience members think what the brand wanted them to think.

Messaging-Strategy

AEIB-GraphicThe article described messaging strategy as making a conscious, strategic evaluation and decision to maximize the effectiveness of its communication. This takes place through considering the audience’s interests relative to the brand’s desired messages, and emphasizing the appropriate themes through communication channels that work best in reaching the audience.

11 Questions to Develop Your Messaging Strategy

One primary take-away from the article was a list of branding strategy questions to help in developing a messaging strategy more effectively.

We gained approval to share a version of question list with you. These eleven questions should be beneficial as you evaluate and develop messaging strategies for your own organization

Questions about the Brand’s Communication Objectives

  • What do we want audience members to believe and to do?
  • Are there certain message aspects we want to emphasize?
  • How can the message be broken into smaller chunks the audience will be more likely to consume?
  • How can we reinforce the message after we initially deliver it?

Questions about the Audience’s Receptivity

  • How predisposed are audience members to believe and act on what we communicate?
  • Do audience members have sufficient background about the topic to be able to understand the message?
  • What specific elements of our message will be most convincing and compelling to audience members?
  • How do audience members prefer to receive and process communications?

Questions about the Communication Approach

  • Of the multiple ways we can communicate with the audience, which channels (i.e., advertising, salespeople, social media, brochures, etc.) will best reach them in meaningful and complementary ways?
  • Is there a certain order or logic for the communication to maximize its impact?
  • How can we deliver the message to best gain (and hold) audience member attention against all the other messages they receive?

We suggest bookmarking this list to keep it handy whenever you are developing a messaging strategy for your brand.

And if you want to learn more about the Armada Executive Intelligence Brief system and get in on this great publication for an incredibly low monthly rate, please visit the Armada website.

 

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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’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.”

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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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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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With more messages coming at audiences through more channels, solid branding strategy has to focus on “cutting through the clutter.”

For those unfamiliar with this phrase, cutting through the clutter means getting attention for your messages relative to all the other messages “cluttering” you target audience’s attention.

Last week, Sprint tried cutting through the clutter with me (although they had already done it in an odd and annoying way with the Narwhals ad and the previous Framily ads).

The most recent attempt to cut through the clutter came via a FedEx envelope arriving in the late afternoon. It contained a letter from the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Sprint and a flier comparing Sprint to T-Mobile on price and performance. The letter set the stage, acknowledging consumers make mobile provider decisions based on rates and network quality. The brochure put Sprint up against T-Mobile, making the case for why we should switch from T-Mobile.

Sprint-vs-TMobile

As a nearly twenty-year customer of a Sprint competitor, going the extra step to attempt cutting through the clutter by reaching me in a surprising format for the product category makes sense.

Here’s the thing, however.

I’m a Verizon customer. I’ve never used T-Mobile.

Doh!

Cutting through the Clutter Isn’t Everything in the Branding Strategy

Sprint cut through the clutter, got my attention, and then completely screwed up the message by demonstrating it had no clue about me. I immediately transferred the lack of knowledge Sprint has of me as a prospect to how little they would know or care about me as a customer!

After posting this picture on Facebook, I learned a high school classmate who IS A SPRINT CUSTOMER received the very same FedEx letter. Sending a competitor comparison to a current customer takes even more of the cake than sending one to the wrong competitor’s customer.

The lesson?

This seems like an example of incompletely answering our favorite strategic thinking question, “What are we trying to achieve?”

Cutting through the clutter of mobile provider marketing messages is ONE THING Sprint is trying to achieve. Mission accomplished.

But that wasn’t the COMPLETE answer.

Sprint is trying to win business from T-Mobile customers, obviously. If that’s the case, basic strategic thinking should have led the folks behind the campaign to invest the time and effort to:

  1. Get good data to understand who the T-Mobile customers are, and
  2. Devise a messaging strategy that would still make sense if the data were bad.

Great marketing is great from the initial idea all the way through to implementation and follow up.

Bad marketing generally goes south right from the start, especially when no one is asking the right questions AND demanding the right answers that steer it toward greatness. –  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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We’ve published a tremendous amount of free content since the Brainzooming blog launched in 2007. As we adapt and expand our own content marketing strategy, one goal is to add new value to evergreen content we’ve already created.

This strategy means adapting, repurposing, and repackaging content in ways that add value for current readers and help us reach new audiences. It can also mean changing where and how we share Brainzooming content.

17 Ways to Add New Value to Evergreen Content

As we often do, more than willing to share our strategy ideas with you as we develop and implement them.

Evergreen-Lookup

Here are 17 ways we’re considering to add new value to evergreen content we’ve already developed:

  1. Update the content to enhance its timeliness
  2. Expand the content so it is more comprehensive
  3. Strengthen the content by making it better researched and authoritative
  4. Create a more effective order for the content
  5. Deliver the content in shorter chunks
  6. Communicate a single piece of content in a longer format with greater depth
  7. Add detail to the content so it answers questions more thoroughly
  8. Increase the frequency with which you publish for those who want more
  9. Decrease the frequency with which you publish for those who want less
  10. Tell a story with the content
  11. Convert the content into an eCard
  12. Enhance the content with lots of photos
  13. Deliver the content across a wider range of media
  14. Create a podcast from the content to make it more portable for the audience
  15. Change the medium in which the content is delivered
  16. Compile separate, but related pieces of content into a more comprehensive format (eBook, compilation video, presentation, etc.)
  17. Recompose the content from a different perspective

What can you grab off this list for your content marketing strategy?

We’re further narrowing this list of ways to add new value to evergreen content. What ideas could work best for you on this list to deliver greater value to your audiences from your content marketing strategy? – 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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I love speakers who hit the stage and have the effective presentation skills to engage and audience immediately, bringing them into a learning and growth experience throughout the time together.

On the flip side, I cringe when speakers inadvertently start erecting a wall between themselves and the audience either through arrogance, indifference, insufficient preparation, a lack of presentation skills, or some other reason.

Effective Presentation Skills – 16 Ideas to Immediately Engage an Audience

Audience-Wideshot

Sitting through a painful presentation where a speaker decided about ninety percent of the way through the presentation to try to engage the audience (and failed), I jotted down this list of sixteen ideas you can do to immediately engage an audience:

  1. Work with meeting planners beforehand to ensure audience members don’t feel cramped or are sitting on top of each other
  2. Have audience members mingle with each other even before starting what you’re going to do
  3. Get off the stage (for at least a few moments) and walk among the audience
  4. Be self-deprecating
  5. Do funny stuff early and let the audience know it’s okay to laugh
  6. See if audience members are doing (or have done) the thing you are talking about and let an audience member explain it to the group
  7. Ask audience members to share safe, non-self-incriminating opinions
  8. Use questions with the group that have multiple right answers
  9. Prompt physical demonstrations of being awake – applause, standing up and moving, raising their hands, etc.
  10. Have everyone do the same thing as a group activity
  11. Talk to a few audience members ahead of time and identify which ones would be willing to get things started
  12. Have audience members perform a safe ice breaker that doesn’t make them feel silly
  13. Invite audience members to do something they know how to do in a slightly different way
  14. Have audience members create something that is easy to create
  15. Fall down in excitement or exasperation
  16. Share positive things you’ve learned about their organizations and ask them to tell the audience about why they are having success

Those are sixteen ideas I’ve seen work.

What have you seen work for speakers to immediately engage an audience that we should add to the list? – Mike Brown

 

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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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