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Talk to B2B service or product providers and you’ll likely hear about solution selling.

Fair enough. You don’t want to buy something and still have the problem afterward. You want your problem to go away and never come back another day.

The challenge is there are often multiple problems and multiple solutions. If it’s unclear which problem and which solution the potential client and provider are trying to address, the provider’s proposed solution can be way off the mark. If multiple providers are competing for the opportunity, they may be trying to solve different problems. That further adds to the likelihood of problem-solution mismatches.

We had one recently.

A potential client had already identified a time window for a strategic thinking session, the senior management group to participate, and the expectation of having a productive conversation leading to greater brand strategy clarity.

The company had contacted another firm to facilitate the discussion. Due to schedule conflicts, the other potential provider referred the company to us at the last minute. With no actual direct conversation with the potential client, we created a strategic thinking session plan for answering the brand strategy questions and issues we identified based on skeletal information.

Brainzooming Strategic Thinking Session

A Brainzooming strategic thinking session. Photo courtesy of Jason Harper.

After multiple emails, we finally talked with the client two days before the planned discussion time. Everything was going well as we discussed our approach and the proposed end deliverable: a definitive, consensus-oriented, strategic roadmap for the company to address its brand situation.

Then we got to the price.

Our price was five times higher than what the other potential provider proposed.

Doh!

Discussing this with the potential client, the difference was clear.

The other provider’s solution was showing up to be a neutral, albeit knowledgeable party, who would “host” a discussion.

That was a solution, but only to a VERY narrow interpretation of the problem, i.e., managing the allotted time for a discussion with a little follow up.

We were addressing delivering the answer they needed to move forward with a brand strategy and implementation in the few months their management group is expecting. We’d proposed addressing the bigger problem the potential client was admittedly facing. The other provider had proposed (and set a price expectation) for a small solution to a much narrower problem.

The big learning was even though I don’t use the term, we are solution selling. We don’t just show up and facilitate. We identify, plan, manage, and deliver a strategic outcome. In other words, our focus is creating strategic impact. That’s why we ensure all the planning and meeting conditions lead to a real result. That’s why we create a definitive series of exercises leading to the desired strategic outcome.

That’s why we don’t simply stand in front of a whiteboard, ask a few questions, and capture some notes.

It’s all part of the difference between facilitating a meeting and creating strategic impact. – 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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Prior to the Social Media Strategies Summit last week, I tweeted about finishing my social media strategy workshop presentations in time. Reviewing the agenda, I also mentioned a hook included in the session description several months earlier that needed to be tied into the workshop opening. Another Social Media Strategies Summit presenter tweeted back that social media presentations should not be prepared more than two weeks before a conference since things change so quickly.

My reply was while some facets of the social media landscape (tools, terms of service, etc.) do change quickly and frequently, much of social media (i.e., the strategic side) is much more static.

Sitting through his conference presentation, I was hard-pressed to identify any of his content reflecting any important changes in the social media world from the prior two weeks.

How Quickly Does Social Media Change?

Contrast that with the mind-expanding presentation by Kansas City’s Travis Wright on marketing technology. Teedubya’s Social Media Strategies Summit keynote was an up-to-date overview of the significant number and wide-ranging functionality among marketing platforms, apps, and services. These marketing technology tools are designed, in one way or another, so marketers can better understand and target their audiences. Travis’ presentation felt like it had to be right down to the minute to reflect what’s going on now or in the very near future.

Teedubya-SMSS

Being that newsy and deep on a topic requires time – time many brands don’t have (or want to expend) when creating content.

That’s why we’re big fans of brands creating a healthy amount of evergreen content as part of a social media strategy. Evergreen content, which holds up long after today’s news passes, helps a brand develop a sizable online presence, paying website traffic dividends for an extended period of time.

5 Questions for Evergreen Content Success

If your brand wants to develop and publish more evergreen content, here are five questions to ask about your content. Your potential answers are Yes, No, or Not Applicable / Unsure. The more “Yes” answers on your content, the greater potential is has for being relevant for an extended period of time.

  1. Will this information be accurate well into the future?
  2. Will any techniques shared apply in future situations?
  3. Will the information shared, even when time has passed, still retain historical value as a reference source or point of comparison for the current day?
  4. Will this topic and any related issues change relatively slowly?
  5. Even if the principles shared here are varied or modified over time, will there still be value in knowing what they were originally?

News gets attention, without a doubt, but evergreen content makes your online content work much harder for you! – 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 new 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 media 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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The session I am presenting today at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Dallas is on “3 Keys to Curating Content without Losing Your Brand Voice.”

Social-Media-Strategies-Sum

Social Media Strategy and Curating Content

Curating content essentially means searching out and sharing content through a brand’s social media outlets that originated from some other source, whether that is another brand, organization, or individual.

At the extreme, if all (or nearly all) the content an entity shares online was originally created elsewhere, it is functioning as no more than an aggregator of others’ content.

As we will discuss and work with the idea of curating content in today’s session, “curation” implies a brand is adding at least some value to the content it shares even though it did not produce the original source content.

16 Ways to Add Value When Curating Content

What are some of the ways a brand can add value when curating content? Here are sixteen ideas organized in three broad areas:

Endorsing

  • Cull lots of content to the best content that’s available
  • Offer a dependable point of view
  • Develop a resource / tool list
  • Provide disinterested objectivity

Packaging / Compiling / Pointing

  • Find the undiscovered
  • Compile material others cannot
  • Organize it better, easier, in new ways
  • Provide timeliness to delivering the aggregated content
  • Provide coordinated timing in delivering the content
  • Develop an entire sweep / survey of a topic
  • Integrate the content in new and inventive ways with other content

Enlightening

  • Add new insights
  • Challenge the original perspective
  • Bring your expertise to it
  • Supply inside knowledge
  • Provide an encyclopedic, “timeless” treatment of the topic

Beyond these ideas, it is vital that a brand identify and curate content that contributes to its brand position in smart ways. We will provide a framework for how social strategists can unpack a brand’s foundation documents to generate ideas for curating content. Additionally, we will share a strategic brief format specifically to help a social media team actively curate on-brand content on an ongoing basis.

If you aren’t with us at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Dallas, but you’d like to learn more about this social media strategy approach we’ll be sharing, let us know. We’d be happy to fill you in on more of the details.  – 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 new 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 media 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’m in Dallas this week presenting a workshop on integrating content marketing and social media strategy and a session on strategic content curation for the Social Media Strategies Summit (at the wonderful Hotel ZaZa).

SMSSummit-Hotel-ZaZa

Integrating Content Marketing and Social Media Strategy

Today’s workshop on integrating content marketing and social media strategy is based on the strategic view that while content marketing existed before social media, the strategic combination of the two delivers the most effective results for brands. Even though this seems like common sense, research suggests not all brand marketers are taking advantage of integrating these efforts. Ineffective content marketers are 5 times less likely to create a documented content strategy and are using fewer social platforms than leading content marketers.

For those attending the workshop, and those who aren’t going to be with us in Dallas, here’s an overview of the topics we’ll cover along with links to underlying content we’ll be covering in-depth during the two-hour workshop.

9-Social-Diagnostics

Subscribe-Brainzooming

Starting with an Integrated Mindset

Tools to Develop the Content Strategy

Integrating Social Media for Its Best Advantage

 

 

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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 new 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 media 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’m not proud of this list of entrepreneurial frustrations, but that does not make them any less real. No matter the size of an organization, there are ample opportunities for things to not go as planned – whether that is unintentional or intentional on the part of someone else.

Strategic Thinking on Entrepreneurial Frustrations

1. Hitting your deadline when the other party couldn’t hit its own deadline.

2. People saying one thing and doing another.

3. Feeling like you are all by yourself at times.

4. Somebody not trying hard enough.

5. Not spending enough time on the right things.

6. Finding it easier to undercut rather than stand up for yourself.

7. Getting excluded for no apparent reason.

8. Accepting the exclusion rather than asking, “Why?”

9. Standing by as “the hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder.”

10. Denial.

11. Not doing the tough strategic thinking and taking the easy way out.

What entrepreneurial frustrations bedevil you?

Do you ever get to the point where any of them drop off your 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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I find it surprising when someone discusses the advantages of entrepreneurship and mentions, “You don’t have to work for somebody else.”

This sentiment seems incredibly naive.

Amid this second round of entrepreneurship in my career, it’s clear you certainly DO work for somebody else

In fact, if you serve multiple and varied clients, an entrepreneur works for more somebody elses than is ever typical in a corporate job.  That’s been the case for me without exception. Despite a variety of competing interests and priorities in the corporate world, it was easy to separate the one or two people I was working for versus all the other people who thought I was working for them.

Such clarity isn’t necessarily there as an entrepreneur.

Serving a B2B market, I’ll admit that it’s not always clear what is going on inside a client’s four walls. It’s easy to be on the outside and NOT looking in as internal politics, cumbersome processes, and questionable motivations slow down what should seem to go more smoothly and quickly.

I realized the other day, however, what people are really talking about as the “not working for someone else” advantage entrepreneurs have.

Talking with someone who works for a company that provides services in the B2B market, she was reflecting on a recent client interaction. The client hadn’t provided solid planning information upfront. As a result, there was confusion about how vital processes and decisions would proceed. Her sense was that she, as the client contact for a relationship her employer held, couldn’t set the client straight. She wound up biting her tongue on multiple important issues because it was a client. The best she felt she could do in challenging the situation was to offer two strong suggestions to attempt to correct the situation.

Having my own business, however, I’d have been in a different position to act. If pushing back to the client resulted in losing the business, I would be in the position to fully understand that impact and shoulder the full ramifications of it. As an employee, she wasn’t in a position to do that.

If you have someone paying you, you are working for somebody else whether as an entrepreneur or as an employee. Maybe what people really mean about not working for somebody else is that an entrepreneur can talk back and take action against the whoever is paying more effectively than an employee.

In that case, I’d have to agree with them. – 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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It never fails.

If I am creating a new presentation, I go through the same tortured creative thinking stages EVERY TIME.

As I pass the various STAGES, they always feel familiar based on past experiences.

Yet no matter how much creative thinking I do or how much I recognize the stages and WANT to skip over those that cause the most frustration and anxiety, I repeat them every time while creating a new presentation.

image

Creative Thinking Stages for a New Presentation

After seeing how my last new version of a presentation went, and in the midst of creating not one new presentation, but working on three new presentations this past week, I listed these twenty-five stages of creative thinking in the hopes of avoiding the most painful ones.

I am not sure that hope will ever come to fruition, but at least now, there is a road map to know where I am at in the twenty-fives stages of creating a new presentation.

  1. I’m tired of all the old presentations, so how about creating a new presentation?
  2. What have I gotten myself into here?
  3. This outline for the new presentation came together pretty easily.
  4. I have a lot of previous material I can reuse.
  5. There’s so much raw material here it’s tough to wade through and get it organized.
  6. I should perform some secondary research to test my ideas.
  7. There are a lot of other people already addressing this, and they’re probably smarter and have better experience than I do.
  8. I’ve got a mess on my hands and the original outline for the new presentation doesn’t make sense anymore.
  9. Maybe it would work to start over, do some more creative thinking, and develop a new outline in PowerPoint.
  10. The new presentation outline seems to work, of course, there isn’t a strong beginning or end, so now it’s just a matter of moving SOME of the big file of content into the new PowerPoint.
  11. I don’t have nearly enough material to fill the time.
  12. I’m going to have to develop a whole new handout, and who has time for that?
  13. I just got the attendee list, and EVERYBODY who’s coming to this session already knows WAY MORE than I do.
  14. This shorter version is finally starting to make some sense.
  15. With the beginning added, the new presentation feels good.
  16. Looking at it now, this new presentation is about 20% too long so I’m going to have to cut some slides.
  17. I really don’t have a lot of this content committed to memory, so I had better listen to recordings of similar content I’ve already presented.
  18. There are several stories from those recordings that should go into this presentation.
  19. The new presentation is close, but going back through the attendee list, I’m still not sure what they’re going to learn.
  20. I’ll work through the notes on the plane there.
  21. After hand writing my notes on the plane, this new presentation really clicks, especially after a few more tweaks.
  22. Sitting here the night before, it’s still way too long and the ideas aren’t meaty enough for these attendees.
  23. Going through the presentation last night, I fell asleep because it was so boring to me, so it’s going to be boring for the attendees.
  24. It’s time to give the new presentation, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.
  25. That went REALLY well.

With the new presentations I’ve been creating the last week, I’m at around stages ten through thirteen on all of them.

I have a long way and a short time to go until stage twenty-five.

Wish me the best! – 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 and strategic thinking 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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