1

Whenever readers or workshop audience members initiate conversations and ask questions, it is so much easier to write blog content.

I doubt that is a unique situation.

If you are looking to find more ideas for your content marketing strategy, have you tried mining your organization’s daily customer conversations?

Tap into open-ended customer conversations already taking place with sales, customer service, executives, technical staff, drivers, retail associates, e-commerce and social media staff, market researchers, and any other employees interacting with customers whether in-person or virtually.

Photo by: Seleneos | Source: Photocase.com

Photo by: Seleneos | Source: Photocase.com

Additionally, create new opportunities to capture customer conversations through listening posts you create. These are specific interactions you create to capture additional inputs from customers about your brand and its products and services. It could be as simple as actually capturing the feedback from questions you are already having your employees ask customers during routine interactions. It might extend, however, to doing something completely new to find out what customers are asking or saying about your brand.

4 Customer Conversations and Content Marketing Strategy Ideas

How do you turn these conversations into content marketing possibilities?

One way is to think about the conversations based on their nature (statements vs. questions) and tone (positive to negative). Categorizing customer conversations along these two dimensions is a first step toward turning them into content using the matrix below.

  • Positive statements can suggest ways to highlight brand value.
  • Positive questions turn into education opportunities
  • Negative comments are opportunities to anticipate objectives and challenges other customers are facing but not voicing.
  • Negative questions open the door to both process changes to address pain points and update opportunities for what your brand is doing in these areas.

Customer-Convo-Med

Effectively mining customer conversations sets you up to expand content you can be better assured is relevant to customers and prospects because THEY are generating the topics!  – Mike Brown

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We have said it before, but it warrants repeating: Not all the great content you share has to be completely new content.

Content Marketing Creativity

Any organization likely has a treasure trove of older, historical, and archival content that retains interest and engagement value for new audiences. Doing something to repurpose old content simply requires content marketing creativity!

This was highlighted this past weekend at a family reunion, intriguingly enough. My maternal grandfather’s family of eleven brothers and one sister was a very musical family. Various groups of brothers (including my mom’s dad) formed and played in dance bands from the 1930s through the 1980s.

Freddy-Joe-CD

One of the reunion organizers had the idea to locate, digitize, and clean up recordings from The Freddy Joe Band, one of the bands from the 1940s. My parents supplied several cassette tapes for the CD project. Others did the musical enhancements, along with designing the packaging and writing liner notes. The result was a wonderful remembrance of both the most recent reunion and a significant aspect of the family’s history for a new audience that had never experienced the band.

4 Questions to Repurpose Old Content for New Audiences

This experience suggests four content marketing creativity questions brands can ask and answer to mine and repurpose old content:

  • Does audio and video content exist that tells little-known, but intriguing factoids about the brand’s early days?
  • What rarely-seen photographs (or video) show early employees, customers, and products that have historical value?
  • Who knows stories about the circumstances of how people used early products that provide interesting comparisons to today?
  • Are there lessons learned from the brand’s early days that would still benefit a new audience of customers today?

With just a little content marketing creativity, you can save time and also open up new audiences to engaging aspects of your brand that are so old they are new! – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

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Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategy 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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Professor John Bennett responded to the recent Brainzooming long list blog post on 26 ways to leave a trail of genius. He wondered about why we write long list posts and how we expect readers will use them.

John’s question and the personal and student examples he shared deserved something more than a comment response, thus this blog.

Long-Lists

3 Reasons Why We Write Long List Posts

Before sharing how we expect readers might use long lists, it is worthwhile to highlight why we write them based on both reader AND writer preferences:

  • Readers gravitate toward list posts. Every year, the most-visited Brainzooming posts are invariably filled with long lists. We’ve hypothesized previously about how a long list of possibilities gives readers a chance to find SOMETHING they can embrace and do.
  • A mega list challenges me personally to see if a subject stands up to use. Is the underlying concept productive enough to generate many possibilities or does it fizzle out quickly after just a few ideas?
  • Long list posts are SOMETIMES easier to write. The long list prompting John’s question was a spur of the moment idea to take advantage of potential writing time while sitting around during my mother-in-law’s recent hospital stay.

There may be other reasons (because three reasons aren’t very many), but let’s leave it at that!

5 Ways Readers Might Use Mega List Posts

How do we recommend readers use mega list posts – at least ones on the Brainzooming blog?

Here are five ideas:

  • Readers can see if they are already doing some of the ideas. That can make them feel better about how smart / motivated / proactive they are.
  • If they aren’t doing much about the list’s subject, having many options provides plenty of possibilities to find one or two things to start doing.
  • Readers might discover the inspiration for new and even better ideas than the long list blog post contains.
  • They might realize the list’s core topic is one they should embrace as something important.
  • Readers could use a long list blog post as a checklist for changing things about themselves or what they do over time.

How Do You Use Long Lists in Blog Posts?

That’s what I think you might be doing with long list blog posts. Is that anywhere close to reality?

If not, then WHAT ARE you doing with them? John and I would like to know! – Mike Brown

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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 found this picture while cleaning off my iPad (yes, this one too). It was from a creating strategic impact workshop. While discussing project management techniques, I used it to show how to develop project management strategies when dealing with unpredictable people in business.

Working-With-People

Putting the range of predictability (from low to high) on the Y-axis, the X-axis conveys how “good for business” someone might be, from low to high.

Sizing up someone you work with regularly in these two areas helps develop a strategy to build and strengthen the working relationship to maximize its effectiveness.

Project Management Techniques – The 4 Types of People on Your Team

Obviously, the best situation (upper right quadrant) is someone whose business behaviors are predictable, and the person is good for business. We LOVE them! These are the people to recruit for any project you are leading.

In the lower right quadrant, you have people who exhibit productive business behaviors but do so unpredictably. They may not always finish things, could be prone to running late, or aren’t always available when needed. You still want to involve them, but your project management techniques need to include anticipating what to do if they fall down when you need them. It may require getting them assignments early or having someone else available to step in if they aren’t ready to deliver when you definitely need them.

In the upper left, these people aren’t great for business, but at least they are predictable in their shortcomings. If you must include these types of people on project teams or in management groups, be ready with work arounds or other maneuvers to minimize dependencies (especially critical dependencies) related to them. This way, they won’t compromise the group’s progress.

Finally, and unfortunately, we have people who are bad for business, but unpredictably so. You can count on them messing up things (unintentionally OR intentionally), but you can’t be sure how they will do it. You want to get them off the team or out of the organization if possible, but that is not always in the cards. If you are stuck with trying to manage around them, marginalize them or handle them as you would a sociopath. (Surprisingly or not, the articles we’ve written on the topic are among some of the most viewed on the Brainzooming blog.)

During a lull in your next management meeting or project update, draw this grid and see where all your team members fit. Here’s hoping you fill up the upper right quadrant right away!– 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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Based on conferences I attend, there’s an opportunity to see many “emerging speakers.” These are either executives inside corporations or ones having recently departed. They are in a different experience and style category compared to speakers on the full-time speaking circuit.

This speaking world of emerging speakers is both frustrating and exciting.

It’s frustrating when you sit through full-on bores with content that isn’t compelling. There’s one global B2B company, and every speaker I’ve seen from it the past few years is arrogant and plainly disconnected from the audience. Their presentations are horrible.

The frustrating experiences are more than offset, however, by the excitement of seeing new, strong presenters speaking from real, ongoing experiences. These are always delightful, and a great reminder about effective presentations skills to try to develop for my own speaking engagements.

I saw one of the latter types of speakers recently: Amy Brusselback, a former P&G executive. She left the corporate world to start Design B&B. Amy’s speaking style was a great reminder of three aspirations any speaker should embrace: Be funny, self-deprecating, and quotable.

3-Magic-Keys

More than 127 Tips for Effective Presentation Skills

Thinking about lessons in effective presentation skills from sitting through both good and bad presenters prompted me to compile the varied Brainzooming content focused speakers. Along the way, there have also been plenty of tips for how conference organizers can facilitate speakers being better. There have also been some for how audience members can involve themselves in getting the most from conference presentations.

Effective Presentation Skills for Various Situations

Effective Presentation Skills – 8 Ways to Put More of You in Your Talks

Effective Presentation Skills – 16 Ideas to Immediately Engage an Audience

TED Talks – Six Ideas for Developing a First Time TEDx Talk

9 Things I Do Give a Damn ’bout with a Bad Presentation

9+ Tips for How Not to Use PowerPoint and Other Creative Presentation Ideas

Keynote Presenter Advice – Don’t Do These Things

Effective Presentation Skills – 6 Keys to Successful Last-Minute Changes

5 Things all Conference Presenters Must Stop Doing Right Away

Better Presentations with a Small Audience and a Big Room – 9 Success Tips

Pecha Kucha in Kansas City – 6 Reminders for Better Presentations

7 Steps to Be Ready to Present When Your PowerPoint Fails

Eight Tips for Making a Big Presentation Successful

Presentation Tips – 4 Ideas for Successful, Last-Minute Speeches

Great Presentation Content

Strategic Thinking Lessons – Why Recipes Are Better than Dinner Stories

Presentation Tips – 3 Reasons to Admit You Don’t Do Something Well

Presentation Tips – 5 Tips for Creating Photogenic Slides

16 Creative Ways to Supercharge Presentations

Creative Thinking – The 25 Stages in Creating a New Presentation

Create Lasting Memories in Online Events – 10 Ways to Do It

The Value in Presentations

Strategic Thinking Question – When Does Free Become Getting Paid?

Strategic Thinking for Your Career – What Free Speaking Engagements to Do?

Free Speech? Try a “Fair Trade” Speech Strategy Instead

How Organizers Can Help Speakers Be More Successful

5 Ways to Help a Speaker Deliver a Successful Presentation at Your Event

Event Strategy – 5 Ideas for Generating Applause When You Need It

The Audience Role in Presentations

Creative Ideas – A Memorable Way to Meet Conference Speakers

5 Strategic Thinking Questions for Integrated Listening

8 Warning Signs a Professional Development Conference Could Be a Stinker

Is a Smart Presenter Always Better?

Mike Brown

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I compare how we approach creating Brainzooming strategic thinking workshops to how a band develops a live music set list for a concert. For example, I read somewhere that when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band go out on tour, they have more than two hundred songs ready to slot into any one concert. They play some songs nearly all the time; other songs might only appear once.

That’s comparable to how we select specific strategic thinking questions and exercises from among our large (and always growing) repertoire for a client session. We include some exercises (in one form or another) in nearly every workshop. These are supplemented by less frequently used strategic thinking exercises serving a particular role to address a client’s needs.

Similarly, we select specific exercises to teach at conference workshops to best address a particular conference topic or learning objective. For the Brand Strategy Conference in San Francisco, we used the Outside-In Innovation Fake Book of Strategic Thinking Exercises as the basis for a brand innovation workshop. We concentrated on how companies can use customer, market, competitor, and other external, outside-in looks for brand innovation.

8 Strategic Thinking Exercises for Brand Innovation

Among the sixteen exercises in the Fake Book, we picked eight that were most relevant for brand innovators. Want to apply them to your own brand innovation needs? Here is the set list we used in the workshop (along with the Fake Book page numbers):

1. Looking at Your Brand as a Set of Benefits (Page 7)

This brand innovation exercise is central to most of the following benefits-based exercises that unlock innovation opportunities.

2. New Ways to Enhance Benefit Delivery (Page 8)

Using your audience’s needs, this exercise lets you imagine new ways to address them through the brand experience.

3. Innovating Brand Experience Proof Points (Page 12)

This exercise explores ways you currently deliver and could potentially strengthen your brand experience backstage and onstage.

Brand-Experience-Mapping

4. Determining Your Benefit-Based Competitors (Page 8)

Your competitive set looks dramatically different when you identify competitors based on brands delivering comparable benefits (instead of simply picking those that look like your brand).

5. Identifying New Markets (Page 10)

If your brand is seeking growth, where else can you deliver benefits central to your brand in new markets? This exercise yields the answers.

6. Messaging Benefits in New Ways (Page 9)

There may be many brands in diverse markets providing benefits comparable to yours. Go to school to discover new ways to sharpen and improve your messaging.

7. Deconstructing What Your Brand Does (Page 22)

One of our favorite exercises (What’s It Like?) provides multiple strategic and brand innovation ideas to change the game for your brand.

8. Disrupt or Be Disrupted (Page 20)

There’s no one way to disrupt your brand or others in the marketplace. These strategic thinking questions are a starting point, however, to imagine a range of potential disruptions.

 

If you have brand management responsibilities in your position, download the Outside-In Innovation Fake Book today (it’s still free to download!).

Then you can use this set of exercises to start thinking about your brand in a dramatically new way.

Chances are, there will be a million dollar idea in there for your brand too! – 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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If you’re trying to create strategic change in an organization having a sense it knows the right way to do things and an even stronger perceived handle on which things are important to do and not do, what is the best change strategy?

Is it better to do a two-step sale or a one-step sale to get the go ahead for strategic change?

This strategic pondering emerged from several Brand Strategy Conference presentations this week.

BrandStratConf

Strategic Change Management in 1 or 2 steps?

There were discussions during various Brand Strategy Conference presentations about how you get an organization to understand branding, design thinking, or social media. The premise, understandably enough, is you need to win the organization over to a belief in the overarching concept before selling-in the related strategic change associated with embracing the concept.

This is what I’d call a two-step sell: sell the concept, then sell the specific strategic change.

A one-step sell would eliminate the separate first step of selling-in the overarching concept. Instead, you would simply start selling-in the strategic change that is needed by linking it, as best possible, to things the organization already believes in and supports. The idea is you may be far better off to not telegraph strategic change by either creating or acknowledging the hurdle of getting the organization to accept a big concept as a precursor to change.

For instance, if you’re trying to implement stronger and better branding in an organization that doesn’t get what brand is, you could start with aspects of brand building start where agreement to do something already exists. If product quality or customer engagement is something the company has been addressing even though it doesn’t completely understand branding, how about simply launching brand strengthening quality or customer engagement changes you align with more familiar initiative? You wouldn’t even have to mention the “B” word, especially if it were likely to just muddy the waters.

Think about this strategic thinking question this way: if you’re dealing with small minded people, are you better off to give them small ideas to consider rather than a huge, unfamiliar idea?

If you think you might be, a one-step strategic change cell may be exactly the approach to pursue.

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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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