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Are you experiencing death by meeting syndrome at work?

In all likelihood, you are.

It seems as if everyone we talk to in companies of any size complains about the death by meeting syndrome where it’s impossible to get any work done for all the business meetings they have to attend.

Is there anything you can do to deal with death by meeting syndrome?

Well, you can try!

Death by Meeting – 18 Articles on Effective Meetings

These 18 articles from the Brainzooming archives highlight various techniques we use to manage effective meetings, from meeting logistics to meeting dynamics and meeting decision making.

Brainzooming-Not-Cluster

Effectively Preparing for Meetings

Productive Business Meetings – 16 Questions for Meeting Leaders to Ask

Strategic Planning – 5 Dangers of Cheaping out on Hiring a Facilitator

What’s Your Hourly Rate?

What You Can’t See – A Mini Rant

Meeting Locations

10 Meeting Spaces for Work at Home Professionals, Other than Starbucks

Making Every Occasion an Event

080404 Meeting Summary - Fun King Insane

Meeting Dynamics

Fun Strategic Planning Activities – Do you like doing an ice breaker exercise?

A Strategy for Bringing Customers Into Every Meeting

Musical Chairs – A Seating Strategy

Working from the Same Side of the Table

Corporate Amnesia – 9 Ways to Prevent and Avoid It

7 Tips to Improve Conference Call Presentations

When Is a Meeting Over?

Streamlining Meetings

1 Simple Strategy for Improving Time Management

11 Examples of Strategic Thinking without an Offsite Meeting

Strategic Thinking – 12 Ways Project Teams Can Stay out of the Weeds

Decision Making at Meetings

Creating Strategic Impact – 3 Project Management Steps to Productively Review Concepts

Making a Decision – 7 Situations Begging for Quick Decisions

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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When should a brand create content itself versus outsourcing content creation to an outside agency?

That was one content marketing strategy question attendees asked in the solo social media workshop I presented at the Social Media Strategies Summit.

SMSS_Graphic

We have a significant bias toward handling content creation inside a company as part of its integrated content marketing strategy. Unlike typical marketing communications, press releases, brochures, direct mail, etc., content creation for social media platforms necessitates an authentic sense of the brand personality, IF it’s going to be successful. Being so intimate with the brand personality and what it represents in every dimension isn’t something an outside communicator can easily do. Additionally, an outside communicator often isn’t present to capture the video, images, and interviews in the moment as robust content sources.

Having said this, there are instances where outsourcing content creation can make sense. This can also extend to outsourcing curating and sharing content in some situations as part of a brand’s content marketing strategy.

7 Situations for Outsourcing Content Creation

Here are seven situations where we think outsourcing content creation and other related functions is viable:

  1. Adapting internally-generated content so it fits with targeted social media platforms.
  2. The brand is willing to invest resources in an outside communicator to become immersed in the brand both initially and on an on-going basis.
  3. Individuals inside the company are the face and/or voice of the content an outside communicator edits or rewrites, videos/photographs, or translates into social media-appropriate formats.
  4. Designing the strategy and platform for a brand to communicate content via social media networks.
  5. Curating content that fits the brand’s strategy.
  6. Scheduling the brand’s content across channels, in effect becoming the DJ for internally created content.
  7. Conducting social media listening for the brand.

One outsourced social media situation you don’t see listed is a brand farming out 100% of its content creation.

There may be other situations that make sense, but this is where we stand on this content marketing strategy question.  – Mike Brown

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We’ve written and presented about what to blog about along with other content creation opportunities and conference organizers can pursue.

At the Social Media Strategies Summit in Las Vegas, however, an attendee asked the question about how, as an attendee, one can create valuable content for blogs and other social channels?

27 Content Creation Opportunities for Conference Attendees

His question prompted this list of 27 ideas for both what to blog about from a conference and for other content creation and sharing opportunities your audience might find valuable.

In generating the list, I thought back to the two most recent events I’ve attended in Las Vegas: the Specialty Equipment Market Association event with tens of thousands of attendees and the Social Media Strategies Summit, which is a tremendously intimate conference by comparison.

What to Blog About at a Conference

  1. Create a blog post featuring the top quotes from the conference.
  2. Profile specific presentations as blog posts.
  3. Record video interviews with presenters and attendees that your audience should know more about.
  4. Go the conference with a specific list of questions your audience would like answered and record short video interviews with the right presenters or attendees answering the questions.
  5. Get permission from presenters or conference organizers to link or share specific presentations with your audience.
  6. Put together a series of photos of key slides or infographics from the conference that your audience will find beneficial.
  7. Feature the top trends or future developments in the industry that your audience needs to know about and understand.
  8. Give a behind-the-scenes look at the city or venue where the conference was held.
  9. Provide your tips for attending the conference if your readers were to attend in the future.
  10. Review a book one of the presenters wrote.
  11. Spend your evening in your room and write a daily recap of the conference that is ready before any other online source.
  12. Live blog presentations and share “raw” notes throughout the day.
  13. Share links to pertinent articles and blog posts from presenters.
  14. Complete a conference “scavenger hunt” with fifteen or twenty meaningful items from the conference that would be of benefit to your audience. Examples might include: Biggest insight, Most valuable presentation, A Speaker You Need to Learn More About, Most Intriguing Quote about the Future, etc.
  15. Ask a presenter if he or she would guest blog for your audience.
  16. Transcribe your written notes and publish those in one or more blog posts..
    Audience-Conference

Other Content Creation Opportunities for Conference Attendees

  1. Tweet conference presentations using a hashtag that you have let your audience know ahead of time.
  2. Turn video interviews you completed into a podcast about the conference.
  3. Video your impressions throughout conference (a daily end-of-the-day video) and put together a recap video from that.
  4. Do a Periscope video of a keynote presentation.
  5. Put your top photos of presentation slides into your own presentation with notes and make it available to your audience.
  6. Capture big ideas from the conference and share those.
    Conference-Matrix
  7. Visually capture your conference notes (if you have the capability to do that), and share those with your audience.
  8. Create a Pinterest board of products (or speakers, or exhibitors, etc.) you thought stood out at the event.
  9. Interview exhibitors at the event and string together one-minute product and service overviews your audience would find helpful.
  10. Curate content that other attendees are creating about the conference.
  11. If you have multiple attendees at the event, create a mini-content marketing strategy to make sure your people are deployed across the event (instead of all in the same sessions), grabbing the content you’ll want to share with your audience later.

Remember, before pursuing many of these ideas, you want to make sure you get the proper authorizations and copyright permissions, whether those need to come from the conference organizer or the presenters. – Mike Brown

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We’ve had the occasional guest article, but for the most part, The Brainzooming Group runs with as a solo social media department.

Because of being a solo social media department, I’m always looking for productivity and efficiency tips to extend our content marketing success. Some are implemented right away, and others aren’t.

The 8 Smartest Solo Social Media Tips I’ve Yet to Try

Eight-Tips-Crop

Here are eight of the smartest solo social media tips I’ve yet to try, but should!

1. Weave presentation and workshop outlines into the content calendar

This would stimulate more content directly tied to presentations to keep them fresh. It would also quicken workshop and presentation updates.

Why haven’t I done this? Right now, writing to fit overall blog themes and audience targets is easier than writing to a comprehensive master content calendar.

2. Link blog content to presentation and workshop outlines afterward

Even without using presentation and workshop outlines as mini-editorial calendars, you can categorize blog content afterward.

Why haven’t I done this? Once content is published, I tend to look forward, not backward. Instead of regularly linking blog content to presentations and workshops right after it’s published, I search recent blog articles when it’s time to update a workshop.

3. Anticipate breaking longer content into multiple social formats

Author Pam Didner was the first content marketing expert (affiliate link) I heard talk about consciously creating an eBook’s content with an eye toward short form content (i.e., blog posts, tweets, images, Facebook status updates) it will yield.

Why haven’t I done this? I tend to be a content aggregator.  I typically generate short content and piece it together later into eBooks.

4. Heavily integrating major content launches

Hubspot emphasizes launching new content in a comprehensive, integrated way. When launching eBooks, we typically tie launches to major speaking engagements and publish related blog posts and landing pages, but that’s about it.

Why haven’t I done this? A lack of time and patience are barriers. Integrated launches take advanced planning and time. For some speaking engagements, I have created a new eBook the morning of the workshop. That doesn’t leave time for planning!

5. Hiring freelancers to handle some tasks

There are various ways to reach out to freelancers to complete some ideas mentioned here. That’s something we’ve only done sporadically.

Why haven’t I done this? I tend to handle editing and graphics in-house and save the dollar outlay. The downside is things happen more slowly or NEVER. I also spend valuable time doing lower-value tasks instead of activities to more aggressively grow the business. Pam Didner suggested Upwork as a potential resource for finding freelancers; the next task is picking a project.

6. Blog less and publish an email newsletter

I paid for a webinar where Chris Brogan covered blogging less and putting more emphasis on an email newsletter (affiliate link) as part of a business-building strategy. He shared how he varies content between the two; the blog is to attract search traffic, and the email newsletter is for sharing deeper information.

Why haven’t I done this? I’m trying to unwind my long-term thinking about the blog and its role for our business. Quite honestly, the blog is a professional diary and reference tool. I’m actively considering how to vary content within the current format and potentially more dramatically change its structure.

7. Not including “hows” in blog posts

This tip is years old. Experts say to write “whats” and “whys” in blogs, but not “how” to do what you do. I get it, but find it difficult to get away from “hows.”

Why haven’t I done this? Maybe my mentality is too teacher-like. It’s challenging for me to NOT share how to do things when our primary audience persona eschews fluff and seeks information on HOW to do things.

8. Hiring a Content Producer

This tip is front and center for me. A producer would take my ideas and shape them into more and varied types of content. I even know who my first choice to take on this role would be.

Why haven’t I done this? Our content generates indirect revenue. You can’t “pay” us for anything currently other than strategy, innovation, and content engagements, plus presentations and workshops. We don’t sell other content (i.e., books, on-demand training courses, merchandise, etc.) currently. It’s tough to justify the investment for a full- or part-time producer on an on-going basis without direct revenue impact.

Those are our smartest solo social media tips plus a little dirty laundry on why we haven’t tried them.

What do you say solo social media professionals? Are any of you using comparable tips to expand your organization’s content reach? – Mike Brown

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As you think about your career strategy, how do you see yourself?

Are you bigger than your job, or is your job bigger than you are?

job-bigger-than-you

I had not really considered this career strategy question until the end-of-season speculation about which NFL coaches would be fired immediately after the regular football season’s final weekend. The discussions seemed sad, as if NFL coaches at poor-performing teams could do nothing but sit around and wait to be ushered out the door. In those situations, it seemed clear these coaches’ jobs were bigger than they are.

Tom Coughlin was one striking contrast among departing NFL coaches.

In his final press conference as coach of the New York Giants, Tom Coughlin demonstrated what it looks like when someone is bigger than the job. Coughlin “resigned” after fifteen years with the New York Giants, twelve of them as head coach. He led the team to two Super Bowl wins, and was on the coaching staff for another one.

Rather than playing back what Tom Coughlin had to say, you can read the transcript of his remarks.

I would encourage you, however, to watch the press conference video.

You will get a sense of someone who, while obviously devoting himself to his job, his organization, and his players, definitely realizes his job is not bigger than he is. – Mike Brown

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Our buddies at Armada Corporate Intelligence addressed what sections you should include in your go to market strategy plan in their “Inside the Executive Suite” feature. They highlighted ten different sections to include your strategy plan. (Note: 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.)

Go-To-Market-Space

10 Sections Your Go to Market Strategy Plan Should Include via Armada Corporate Intelligence

AEIB-GraphicThe term “go to market” strategy cropped up perhaps fifteen years ago. In b-school and for years in the business world, we created “marketing” plans. Maybe consultants coined the new term. We see the difference between a marketing plan and a go to market strategy focusing on how the latter incorporates an understanding of customers, what attracts them, and what a brand does to introduce and win share with a successful product or service. (For brevity, we’ll use “product” to represent both products and services from here on.)

We haven’t found a perfect list of what a go to market strategy incorporates. The list here, however, is what we’ve identified and used. It’s a starting point to adapt from as you work on bringing new product initiatives to market:

Target Market

You need to communicate the primary targets you are trying to reach based on a product’s design, intended experience, and marketing. “Everyone” is not an answer to describe the target market. You should pursue a definable, distinct portion of the available audience. Although targeted, it needs to be large enough to deliver on revenue and profit objectives. When targeting multiple groups, communicate which one is the primary target versus others you might include in your marketing.

Brand Strategy

This isn’t just about logos, advertising, and colors. That’s only a part of brand strategy. The go to market strategy should address alignment between your employees, product quality and experience, audience communications, and everything else reinforcing your brand and how you’ll introduce and market a new product. The brand strategy sets guidelines for the go to market approach and provides a platform for new, smart ideas to integrate the product within the overall brand.

Positioning & Messaging

Positioning addresses where you want to place your product in the marketplace relative to competitive offerings. The position (and messages conveying the position to the market) should be distinct versus competitors’ market positions. Developing a product’s ideal position incorporates what the target market expects and will accept from the brand. It also includes what customers will reward through positive buying behaviors. Articulating the position is a start; the remainder of your go to market strategy addresses delivering on the position daily.

Value Proposition

A value proposition can take various forms. Two common elements are needed irrespective of the format. Initially,  the value proposition must clearly communicate how customers, through using your product, will receive more in return than the sum of what they paid and the other “costs” associated with using it. The other essential is the value proposition isn’t just a statement. It must translate to real world product purchase, use, and support experiences.

Sales and Distribution Channels

This covers the varied means of selling and getting the product to customers. It could include strategies for direct sales, inside sales, inbound marketing, wholesalers, distribution partners, alliances, affiliates, etc. It also incorporates all the elements necessary to support channels and relationships, including recruiting, hiring, training, tools, deployment, and the supply chain.

Customer Touch Points

You won’t just reach customers through the sales and distribution channel touchpoints. This strategy component addresses how the product will rely on direct and indirect online contact (web, social media, content), front line service providers, the customer service team, and any other places where you expect customers will interact with your brand and form perceptions about the experience.

Pricing Strategy

The pricing strategy must fit with all other sections to strategically and effectively support the market position and value proposition. It’s impossible to cover creating a pricing strategy in one paragraph. There’s one common trap, however, we see trip up many companies: the pricing strategy may have nothing to do with the production costs. Pricing isn’t necessarily your cost plus a certain percent added as a mark-up. You develop a pricing strategy to support the right value proposition in the marketplace; getting costs in line to support that position is a separate issue.

Marketing Communications Strategy

As with brand strategy, many executives incorrectly think this is the only part of a go to market strategy. Within this section, make sure you have the right mix of online presence and content, advertising, collateral, event marketing, public relations, and internal communication to support the product’s position and intended messages.

Supporting Technology and Systems

More than ever, technology is an integral part of developing and launching products. Smart marketers invite the IT team to the table early when planning a new product. They can help identify innovative ways to use technology to maximize the customer experience and improve efficiencies that create a more attractive cost position.

Metrics

Whether at the start or end a go to market strategy, develop and refine relevant metrics throughout creating the approach. Rather than simply including only sales units, revenue, and profitability targets, metrics should be in place to help identify progress and challenges during the entire implementation process. – Armada Corporate Intelligence

 

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I’ve just signed on to speak at the 2016 Social Media Strategy Summit in Las Vegas. The topic will be an update to the “Staying Sane as a Solo Social Media Professional” workshops I’ve delivered at previous Social Media Strategy Summit events (and elsewhere). The challenge is, however, it’s just a 45-minute presentation. That’s going to necessitate some judicious trimming to highlight the very top tips for a solo social media professional to focus and enhance a brand’s content marketing strategy!

Solo-Social-Media-Cover2

2 Ways to Decide When to Write What with Your Content Marketing Strategy

One of the new solo social media tips  under consideration involves this tip I used to help shape the Brainzooming content marketing strategy for this year.

The only thing about this content marketing strategy tip, however, is it requires two things:

  • At least one year (and ideally two or more years) of blog content published at a fairly regular frequency
  • Several blogs on your core topic areas that are generating ongoing search traffic throughout the year

Granted, those two content marketing strategy hurdles, depending on where you are blogging from, can seem either easy or incredibly challenging.

If you have met both of these hurdles, however, take a look at the month-by-month visits for your posts with the most robust ongoing traffic.

The big step is to compare the percent of yearly traffic you receive each month for a specific post to a typical standard for visits. There are two options for the standard you use:

  1. That standard could be 1/12 of your annual traffic (i.e., you’d expect to get an average share of visits each month).
  2. Alternatively, your standard could be the percent of total annual traffic your overall blog receives each month throughout the year.

No matter which standard you choose, for each month divide the percent of visits the post received by your standard for that month, then multiply all the results by 100.

What this will show is that for any month whose resulting number is over 100, there is greater than average interest in the topic that month. When the number is less than 100, it indicates disproportionately less interest in the topic.

This content marketing strategy approach helped prioritize nine of our most frequently-covered topics for the year. It highlighted that “innovation” is a popular topic throughout the year, and confirmed that “strategic planning” is most popular during the late summer and early fall months.

Never having used this approach to shaping a content calendar, I can’t report what it does to grow visits. The approach will, however, definitely help in keeping a focus throughout the year on what topics should be more popular at any given time. – Mike Brown

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