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“Share more case studies” is a common request at Brainzooming strategic thinking workshops. Many people want to know what another brand did in a particular situation and the results the brand experienced, even if the case study brand has nothing to do with their own brand.

Whenever I receive this request, I’m reminded of Barrett Sydnor saying, as he often does when comparing two situations, “Your results may vary.”

Just because another brand experienced a certain result means almost nothing if your brand has fundamentally different characteristics.

Strategic Thinking Lessons You Can Use

I was recently talking with another speaker about her discomfort with her own presentation and the absence of case studies.

She did not present her brand’s experience with social media in a regulated environment as a case study. Instead, she presented principles other brands should consider for approaching social media in a regulated industry, whether in the same industry as hers or another one.

Despite what attendees may request, I told her she was absolutely on the right track with her presentation and how she shares strategic thinking lessons.

She presented attendees concepts and approaches based on her experience. By generalizing the content into strategic thinking lessons (instead of delivering an overly-specific and overly-individualized case study), her content was of much greater benefit for attendees as a strategic thinking resource – whether they appreciated that or not.

Why Recipes Are Better than Dinner Stories

Our-Family-Recipes2

Think about a great dinner someone else made. They could tell you all about the story of making the meal, how the guests ate and enjoyed the meal, and the wonderfully positive reactions the dinner guests shared.

But if you wanted to try to replicate the experience with your own dinner guests, you are pretty much out of luck. Unless, that is, you can pick apart the story for clues about the ingredients, how it was prepared, and the way the host created the great experience.

If the person shared the recipe, however, you would know HOW to prepare the great dinner yourself. Now you would be in the position to decide whether your dinner guests might like the meal prepared just as the recipe specifies. Or with some modifications. Or maybe they wouldn’t like it at all because there are ingredients your dinner guests can’t eat or wouldn’t enjoy.

Hearing only the story about dinner is like hearing a case study.

Receiving the recipe, however, is like getting the principles and strategic thinking lessons behind the business situation a speaker shares.

Armed with those, you are in a position to translate and adapt the ideas to make them work best for you, or decide whether they will even work in your situation. And that’s all irrespective of how they worked for the speaker.

Next time you’re at a conference, look for the speakers sharing their recipes and NOT just their dinner stories. That’s when you will really be getting your money’s worth.  – Mike Brown

Looking for Results?

When it comes to results, if you want to learn about the advantages of engaging more people with greater diversity in creating strategic impact, we have just the mini-book for you

“RESULTS!!!” is a quick read mini-book designed for busy executives who want to take the first step toward smarter strategy and greater market success. Get your FREE copy today.

Then let’s talk about how to make it happen for your organization.


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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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Almost daily, people are looking at the Brainzooming blog for ideas for cool product names.

Since time has passed since we shared an updated list of creative thinking questions for creating cool product names, here are twenty-one additional questions.

These creative thinking questions are representative of those we use with clients to explore ideas for cool product names. Using questions such as these creates an efficient and very productive naming process. During a recent naming exercise for a client, we generated seven hundred naming ideas and four hundred naming possibilities using questions comparable to this during a two hour online collaboration session.

Yes, you read that right. 700 naming possibilities and 400 specific name ideas in 2 hours!!!

Idea-Bulb

21 Creative Thinking Questions for Cool Product Names

Ask these questions and imagine as many possibilities as you can for each question. The mega-list of names that results from that exercise will provide the basis for forming a variety of actual name possibilities.

  1. Is there a fictional person’s name associated with the product?
  2. Is there a real person’s name associated with the product?
  3. What animal represents the product?
  4. What are descriptive names for the geographic area from which the product originates?
  5. What are descriptive names for the geographic area that the product is associated with?
  6. What are nicknames for people who will use the product?
  7. What does the product most remind you of in another product?
  8. What emotional words describe the reactions people have when using your product?
  9. What made up word or words would does the product suggest?
  10. What names do people call the product after they’ve seen or used it for some time?
  11. What names do people call the product when they first see it?
  12. What words describe the product’s most prominent features?
  13. What words describe the product’s most prominent benefits?
  14. What words describe what users do with the product when it’s used as intended?
  15. What words describe what users do with the product when it’s used in a mistaken way?
  16. What words describe what users do with the product when it’s used in a very naughty way?
  17. What words or phrases would people use to describe the product when it works exceptionally well?
  18. How about when it works well over an extended period of time?
  19. What words would make users of the product proud or excited about their participation with it?
  20. What’s the most matter of fact name that describes the product?
  21. What’s the strongest description of the product?

If your team is dispersed, call us to find out how an online Zoomference collaboration allows many more of your team members to participate in naming exercises.

And if you’d like us to run with the project and generate the list of names, we’re happy to make it happen using a customized list of creative thinking questions tailored to your naming assignment.

And if you’re a few steps away from a name because you’re still searching for new product ideas, our Outside-In Innovation eBook is a must download resource. Get yours today using the download button below! – Mike Brown

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It’s one thing to have the creative thinking skills to bust creativity barriers when imagining new creative ideas. It’s another to pave the way for successfully pitching ideas internally or externally. Here are seventeen articles touching on the creative thinking skills you need for pitching ideas with greater impact.

Anticipating Receptivity to Change

New-Street

7 Lessons to Get Ready for Change Now

Don’t wait for the time when you’re going to pitch the idea to start getting ready for change. Start early. Start right now, before you need to start.

Creating Change and Change Management – 4 Strategy Options

Depending on your organization’s strategic situation sets the stage for determining the right mix of emotion, fact, and intensity to pitch new creative ideas.

3 Strategies for Navigating a Political Environment

If your organization’s environment is overtly political (or even subtly political), you need to be thinking about how it will affect reactions to your creative ideas.

Bringing Creative Ideas to Fruition

Dinner-Table-Food-Fight

Project Management – Dinner Table Analogy for Project Team Members

There are times to challenge creative ideas within a project team, and there are times you don’t. Here is a way to help team members understand which is which.

Project Management – 15 Techniques When Time Is Running Down

How you finish up a creative idea, pitch, or prototype can impact how the idea is received. Even if you have to rush through the preparation, you can avoid calling attention to parts that aren’t as fully developed as others.

Creative Thinking Skills – 5 People Vital to Critical Thinking, Literally

It’s far better to invite naysayers to challenge your idea before the big day comes to pitch your creative idea in the limelight. Here are five types of critical thinkers to invite to the challenge party.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Who is the Positive Devil’s Advocate?

While we’re big on challenging the flaws in a creative idea to anticipate any potential issues, it’s also valuable to think about the challenges of outrageous success with your idea.

Packaging Creative Ideas

Framing-Ideas

Why Serve Up Your Treasure Like Trash?

Don’t short change presenting your creative ideas. The lack of impact in how you present creative ideas can directly reflect on perceptions of your ideas.

How Are You Staging Your Next Idea?

Giving tangibility to your creative idea can make it easier to pitch the possibilities of how it can strategically change your organization’s situation.

Project Management Techniques – 5 Final Report Success Tips

Sometimes you’re communicating your creative ideas in a report format. Here are five tips to set your communication up for success.

Customer Experience Strategy – 11 Ways to Demo an Intangible Service

If your idea is intangible, this article, focused on demonstrating intangible services, features strategies that can extend to demoing creative ideas.

Creative Thinking Skills: 9 Ways to Present a Business Strategy with Panache

If you really want to go over the top in sharing your new ideas, here are nine possibilities you need to explore.

Building Connections to the Audience

Mike-Brown-Making-Big-Ideas-Happen

Making Challenging Content Accessible: 5 Steps to Creating a Nick Cave Fan

If you suspect your creative ideas are going to be challenging to the audience’s sensibilities, here are ways you can build a connection to an audience that may really struggle to understand your perspective.

Innovation Strategy with a New Audience

When you are introducing a new idea to an unfamiliar audience, go out of your way to complete the homework that will unveil the similarities you share so you can start from a point of agreement.

Improve the Success of Your Letters to Santa – Guaranteed!

While the title suggests this post only applies to letters to Santa, it’s really a four-part recommendation formula that is tailor-made to communicate creative ideas to busy executives.

Managing Clients Who Love Their Creative Ideas

It may be that you are in a client situation where the client LOVES their own ideas. If that is the case, there are ways to dissect the ideas to keep what’s good and take a shot at changing what isn’t good in a completely acceptable way.

Structuring the Evaluation

Strategic Questions – 19 Ideas for Reviewing Creative Design Work

Don’t walk into an evaluation of your creative idea and have it turn into a like / don’t like conversation. Instead, provide a framework to evaluate the idea that allows you to showcase how your creative ideas are both creative AND strategic. – Mike Brown

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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.”

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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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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