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Tweet-SBEXPMany (Most? Nearly all?) brands face the brand strategy challenge of cutting through the clutter of other brands’ advertising and marketing. It may be clutter within a brand’s own category (at a trade show, in an industry publication) or across categories (in mass media, sponsorships, online).

No matter the types of clutter it’s battling, a successful brand strategy has to account for all the planned and random distractions getting in the way of its target audience receiving, experiencing, remembering, and acting on its message.

The brand strategy imperative to cut through the clutter in Super Bowl advertising has generated a wide variety of tactics never envisioned when the Super Bowl debuted including:

While these tactics sometimes work to cut through the clutter, they more often than not raise another form of clutter: internal clutter.

Internal clutter results when there is so much (or so little) going on within a brand’s own Super Bowl advertising (or any other advertising for that matter) that its audience is distracted from the core message the advertiser is trying to convey.

This phenomenon became more evident for me two years ago while watching Super Bowl advertising at a party instead of sitting in front of a TV and computer so I could tweet and blog about it. While watching the game amid a crowd, much of the Super Bowl advertising was there and gone without with little recognition of what it was trying to get across to the audience.

I’ll be at a Super Bowl party again this year and will be on the lookout for those ads not creating their own internal clutter. Will these be the Super Bowl ads that stand out from the loud, aggressive, complicated ones and register the biggest impact?

If you’ll be watching for Super Bowl advertising and want to tweet about it, you’re invited to join the Super Bowl Twitter Chat party #SBEXP (for Super Bowl Experience), hosted by author and branding expert, Jim Joseph. If you want to learn more about #SBEXP, Jim has a blog post on it. You can also learn more about Twitter chats (and the “rules” to make them even more fun) in a previous Brainzooming post as well.

And here’s to the brands that avoid 15-yard penalties for clutter come Sunday evening! – 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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How do you handle project management issues when there’s a perceived problem with a client or internal customer that:

  1. You didn’t create,
  2. They did,
  3. But they think or claim you did create it?

Talking with one of our business owner coaching clients recently, he (let’s call him “John” for convenience) ran into this exact project management situation. His client called frantically saying the company president was upset over something John’s firm had done.

While the situation was bothersome and problematic, it wasn’t as big a deal as the company president made it out to be. And while John had precipitated the situation through his work for the client, the problem stemmed from his client not providing sufficient information for John’s firm to perform successfully.

Project Management Issues: A Turd on the Table Strategy

Table-Anger

Photo by: dommy.de | Source: photocase.com

Back to the original question: How do you handle this kind of project management situation – whether with a client or an internal customer?

The option John was considering when he called me was to apologize, rectify the situation as best possible, and wait to see whether he lost his biggest client.

I suggested a better project management technique was to employ a “we have a turd on the table” strategy.

He asked, “WHAT in the world is a ‘turd on the table’ strategy?”

I told him while it wasn’t smart to make his client appear culpable, there was no reason for John to fall on the sword and take full blame for a situation that arose through the client’s inattention and lack of active participation in an important process.

Instead, I suggested John act as if there was a turd on the table by acknowledging:

  • There’s a problem
  • Everyone wants to get rid of the problem
  • It really doesn’t matter right now how the problem got there.

The important project management outcome was getting it off the table and keeping it off the table in the future.

Instead of a mea culpa (or even a mea maxima culpa) and agonizing over losing a huge account, John crafted a couple of page response plan.

The project management plan went much lighter on the sword falling than he’d planned. Instead, it focused on two key sets of project management steps:

  • The first set of steps placed the current situation in the correct context along with appropriate tactics to rectify the minimal negative impact it had.
  • The more important set of project management steps spelled out a plan on what both he AND his client needed to do differently to follow the process they had not been following which led to this situation.

And what happened?

The client appreciated the strategic project management response, reviewed it internally for a few days, and John kept the account with the agreement to the proposed process changes. Success!

Do you ever need quick input on strategy and project management techniques?

No matter where you are globally, The Brainzooming Group is available to provide one-on-one  consultation such as we did with John. If you need a strategic sounding board to develop, vet, and improve ideas and strategies, we can help you quickly achieve the same type of success John did. All it takes is an email or phone call for us to get started. – 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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Kum_and_GoFirst an admission: Coming from a business-to-business market where we never invested ENOUGH to cover all the brand strategy bases we needed, I have never been a big fan of limited time only, standalone marketing campaign or sponsorship messages with too few ties to the overall brand.

Or maybe I should say I at least wasn’t as big a fan of them as our advertising agencies seemed to be.

But then again, that’s what our advertising agencies were pitching to drive THEIR revenue.

When your brand is under-investing relative to baseline levels for your own brand or your competition, however, it’s tough to get excited about putting disproportionate, yet still too few resources behind one-off marketing communications strategies.

8 Questions on Launching Campaign-Specific Marketing

Having said all that, I understand why it can make sense to have campaign-specific urls, social media presences, and messaging. It’s vital, however, that it makes strategic sense.

And how do you know if it makes strategic sense for your brand strategy?

Answer these eight questions about your intended campaign-specific branding and marketing communications efforts:

  1. Is there a strategic need to deliver a hyper-focused, targeted, partial brand message to our audience?
  2. Is there an audience segment that disproportionately wants to affiliate with this temporary campaign presence?
  3. Is there something distinctively different about the campaign content relative to our main content?
  4. Will there be adequate marketing support to build attention for the marketing campaign presence?
  5. Will the campaign presence add intrigue, freshness, and interest to our brand messages?
  6. Have we accounted for how building the campaign presence feeds into building our main presence?
  7. Is our main brand presence already so cluttered (in any number of ways) that it would obscure the campaign message?
  8. Are we REALLY sure we won’t be compromising investment and effort behind our main brand presence?

Obviously, the more “Yes” answers to these questions, the greater the likelihood campaign-specific marketing messages make sense for your brand strategy. – 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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FASTTRACI’m at Ft. Leavenworth today speaking to a group in the Kauffman FastTrac® NewVenture™ program.

The participants are active duty military personnel exploring business ideas for when they transition out of the Army over the next year.

The session topic is marketing strategy and implementation, addressing planning and implementation challenges, cost-effective marketing strategies, maximizing social media for a new business, and entrepreneurship lessons.

The four related marketing strategy question are included below along with links to Brainzooming blog articles containing more detail on each.

1. What are common challenges planning or implementing marketing strategy?

2. What are creative, cost-effective marketing activities?

3. What are the best uses of social media?

4. Based on your start up experience, what are your marketing strategy lessons?

These links are a good starting point for anyone exploring entrepreneurship and the marketing capabilities they need to address upfront.

What other suggestions would you add for these individuals who are serving our country as they prepare to transition to the next phases of their careers? Mike Brown

 

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can 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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Cool-Product-Names-BrainzooSome time back, Jorma Lehtinen (@Notium) reached out on Twitter about software he uses to visualize data, sharing a visualization of a Brainzooming blog list post as an example. We also tweeted about the importance of underlying information design when it comes to how to make an infographic.

Jorma’s outreach along with Woody Bendle’s article on visual thinking about calorie data prompted publishing this post on problems (and opportunities) associated with infographics.

Infographics are all the rage in social media.

So many of them, however, don’t deliver very much.

They are simply “pretty” pictures over-loaded with all the descriptive text that would be there even without the visual treatment. At the same time, they often obscure or eliminate details needed to make sound assessments on the validity of the underlying data and the conclusions the infographic suggests.

How to Make an Infographic Deliver Visual Thinking Value

Here are eight ways strong visualizations and infographics can deliver value by providing a richer data and analysis experience than the prose they are (or should be) replacing. Not all eight have to be in place, but at least a number of them should be.

Strong visualizations and infographics should:

1. Allow you to convey information more simply

The visual should deliver information at a minimum rate of 500 words per image. It would be great, however, if an infographic were legitimately worth a thousand words. If your image requires too many labels text for explanation, there is more work to do.

2. Make processing information quicker and more efficient

Any visuals should allow the audience to take in, understand, analyze, and draw conclusions with greater efficiency. There shouldn’t be so much detail that it becomes even more cumbersome for a reader to look at an infographic instead of reading prose.

3. Reveal new relationships

Visuals should really shine in highlighting relationships between data that would be lost with prose alone. As a shining example, consider the graphic of Napoleon’s army Edward Tufte has popularized. The visual depicts multiple time, geography, resource, and strategy relationships words alone could never convey.

4. Balance space efficiency and effectiveness

Having attended an Edward Tufte class, a big takeaway was paying attention to information density. Strong visualizations and infographics should pack a disproportionate amount of information into the space occupied. There is a balance though – with too much detail, key points are obscured; with too little detail, the audience doesn’t get the impact of text alone.

5. Offer greater clarity and accuracy

It can be difficult with only words to reveal subtle differences in data. A visual can work much harder to suggest patterns, similarities, and differences with a precision words can’t attain. But as the book How to Lie with Charts (affiliate link) screams out, it’s also easy to mislead your audience with visuals. Caveat audience AND the caveat designer.

6. Generate more possibilities

A rich visual triggers audience members to envision even more new ideas, solutions, or relationships to examine. If a viewer can look at a visual and quickly move on without new thinking taking place, there’s either a problem with the visual or the underlying information.

7. Lead to faster prototyping of ideas, concepts, strategies

Especially with abstract areas, strong visualization should convey a less than completely formed concept more rapidly than explaining it or taking time to physically construct the concept, if that’s even possible. Being able to quickly sketch an abstract concept allows it to move forward and develop with greater speed.

8. Do a better job of making information palatable to consume

Call this the “Spoonful of Sugar” phenomenon. If you hit a reader with a long, convoluted prose description of data or tabular information, you may never convey key insights, conclusions, or recommendations. A visual, especially with challenging information, should be an open door to initially bring a reader into the data, with a suggested path to explore even deeper levels.

What do you think is important when it comes to how to make an infographic ?

Perhaps not surprisingly, many of these criteria for how to make an infographic deliver visual thinking value relate closely to the old maxim about a picture being worth a thousand words. So since this post is over 700 words, I’m looking for an infographic operating at about 75% to blow it out of the water. Any takers? – Mike Brown

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Customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle is back with his first post of this year. I was glad Woody tackled a visual thinking topic, because it’s something we’ve touched on, but haven’t spent enough time addressing. Depending on how tomorrow’s post shakes out, we’ll likely talk about what it takes to create a valuable infographic, such as Woody shares below. Here’s Woody!

Visual Thinking: Better Ways to Think about Calorie Data by Woody Bendle

Here we are in the New Year, and if you are like me, your selfies probably have more “self” in them now than prior to the holidays!

While many of us resolve to start each year with intentions of exercising and watching our diet more closely, have you ever stopped to consider what “watching our diet” really means?

For years, health and nutrition experts have recommended regular exercise and a balanced diet of 2,000 calories per day (pdf link). Two thousand calories is roughly what an adult human needs daily to function and maintain weight.

The exercise thing I readily understand, but I have absolutely no idea how many calories I consume in a meal, let alone a day. For all I know, I could be consuming 20,000 calories per day! If it were easier to know how many calories were in the different things I eat and drink, however, I would maybe pay more attention.  After all, I am sort of a numbers guy.

Here comes the calorie data!

Before too much longer, we’re all going to have A LOT more data on calories all around us! Did you know one new regulation under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a requirement for restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to post calorie information for menu items?

I’m not here to pick with the ACA, nor this new requirement to provide calorie information.

But if the regulation’s intent is to really get Americans to think differently about their food choices, there are several reasons posting more numbers next to a menu item will likely not accomplish much:

  1. Lack of context – Most Americans have absolutely no idea the current US Dietary Guideline is a daily diet of roughly 2,000 calories.
  2. Lack of meaning – Most Americans have no idea what a calorie actually is nor what it means, and
  3. Lack of usefulness – More data doesn’t necessarily mean better (more relevant or useful) information

Granted, most people will understand something with 500 calories has five times more calories than something else with 100 calories.  But so what!?  And that’s my point.

How about creating BETTER information?

If this new regulation’s goal is to help people better understand tradeoffs between menu choices (any get them to change their diets), we could be more creative in how we provide the information.  That is, help people understand what the data mean in a way that is more meaningful to them!

What if McDonald’s displayed menu items in the following manner?

Menu-Calories

NOTE 1: Based on an average male adult between the age of 31-50, weighing 195 lbs.
NOTE 2: Walking pace of 3 ½ miles per hour and jogging pace of 5 miles per hour.

When I see that a Big Mac, Large Fries and Large Coke is 1,330 calories I’m not entirely sure what that means.  However, when the calories are translated to how much exercise is required to burn off those calories, I now have some information I can run with effectively!

Understanding the average Joe on the street has to walk 3 ½ hours or jog 1 hour and 45 minutes to completely work off that Big Mac, Large Fries and Large Regular Coke tells me something!  And if he were to get the McChicken Sandwich, Kid’s Fries and Large Diet Coke (a total of 460 calories), he’d only need to do an hour and 10 minutes worth of walking or 40 minutes of jogging?

Walking 3 ½ hours vs. 1 hour and 10 minutes… hmmm.

By providing the calorie information in a way I can more easily envision and digest, I actually think about my particular meal choice differently. And that’s some food for though – even though thinking doesn’t apparently burn ANY caloriesWoody Bendle

 

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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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It’s the time of year where you have already presented your overall strategy for this year. For most companies, the focus is now on further developing, refining, and sharing more detailed business strategy plans.

If this is the case in your organization, your senior team is likely sitting through multiple business strategy presentations.

No matter how invested (financially or otherwise) the senior team members may be in the initiatives, it’s easy for PowerPoint overload  to make the business strategy presentations run together for them.

Applying Creative Thinking Skills to a Business Strategy Presentation

To enhance your deliver, here are nine ways to present a business strategy to your senior team with panache.

Mad-Consumer1. Make a video

Bring people who can’t be there into the presentation or add a touch of pre-developed drama or humor by incorporating a short original video to illustrate key themes in your business strategy.

2. Introduce costumed characters

Only go here if you have solid (albeit non-professional) acting talent on your team. If so, introducing a character into the meeting at a key point definitely adds memorability.

3. Perform a song

As with costumed characters, you need talent to make this work. Add lyrics to a popular song to convey the strategic messages you want your senior team to really remember.

4. Go somewhere spectacular for the presentation

“Spectacular” is relative. Perhaps presenting your business strategy at a museum or other creativity-inducing spot will make your ideas stand out. If you can arrange a truly spectacular option (either based on geography or setting), it could be a solid investment.

5. Write a magazine article from the future covering the plan’s success

With a longer-term business strategy, you can create a feature article from a future business magazine issue to report how much better and different things have been based on implementing your recommendations.

6. Wrap it in education

If your area of responsibility includes social media or other technical areas unfamiliar to your senior team, attach an educational segment to the business strategy presentation. A smarter audience will be better prepared to understand your business strategy.

7. Feature your customers – in person or virtually

To provide a better sense of the customer needs you are addressing, invite customers into your business strategy presentation in-person or through phone, online, or video channels.

8. Translate the strategy into stories and pictures

You cannot necessarily put elaborate stories and pictures together at the last minute. This approach does provide a little more time flexibility, however, than video or presenting in alternative locations. Poll those involved in your business strategy for both stories and images to illustrate how you are creating strategic impact.

9. Make it into a game

Create a Jeopardy grid with subjects and relevant answers, putting strategy categories at the top. Then use the “answer is a question” format from Jeopardy to create a menu of choices your senior team can use to focus where they want more information on your business strategy recommendation.

How much panache are you up for with your business strategy presentation?

And yes, I’ve used all of these previously, so they’re road tested in varying shapes and sizes, including creating a movie of our company’s new vision, presenting the new plan at Arrowhead Stadium, and publishing a faux Business Week article covering our industry from five years into the future.

How are you thinking about presenting your business strategies this year? -  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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