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I’ll be presenting a Brainzooming workshop on internal branding strategy at the Brand Strategy Conference in New York, April 6-8. The workshop, while drawing on material from my Fortune 500 work, springs from multiple conversations at the 2015 Brand Strategy Conference. The discussions focused on when employees should be brought into branding strategy decisions.

The executives asking about and offering opinions on the topic tended to believe it was okay to advise employees about branding strategy decisions immediately after introducing changes to customers.

I was horrified by this viewpoint coming from senior executives because it is so strategically misguided.

3 Keys to Engaging Your Internal Brand Team

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One alternative to letting your employees know about a new direction in branding strategy after your customers is to view employees as an internal brand team. With that change in perspective, you introduce possibilities for engaging employee in shaping branding strategy. Even without revealing specifics to employees in advance, purposefully involving them in developing branding ideas opens up opportunities to familiarize employees with the direction and insights leading to a new branding strategy.

To complement the in-person workshop content, The Brainzooming Group collaborated with Breanna Jacobs at GSMI, the Brand Strategy Conference producer, to publish a new free branding strategy eBook called, “Engaging Employees as an Internal Brand Team: 3 Actionable Strategies.”

The eBook includes three strategic thinking exercises you can use with your internal brand team to invite collaboration, solicit input, and create early learning opportunities.

Download Your Free Internal Branding Strategy eBook!

If you can make it to the Brand Strategy Conference, I’d love to meet you and have you attend the workshop. If you can’t attend, get your free copy of the new branding eBook exclusively from GSMI and start collaborating more effectively with your employees to strengthen your brand and its experience for customers.  – Mike Brown

Download Your FREE eBook! 3 Actionable Strategies for Engaging Your Internal Brand Team

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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Here’s a brief video produced by SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, where I talk about four easy ways for companies to boost creativity in the workplace without taking a lot of time to do it. The key to efficiently boost creativity in the workplace is through introducing idea-rich questions and statements into daily business conversations.

We shot the video after I delivered our presentation on Taking the NO Out of Innovation at the 2015 SEMA Convention.

This video was one of a series of presenter videos on the SEMABizTips video channel.

Orange-Pickup-Truck

My favorite expression of creativity at SEMA!

4 Tips to Efficiently Boost Creativity in the Workplace

If you want to go deeper on how statements and conversations can help you efficiently boost creativity in the workplace, here are the four supporting Brainzooming articles for the video that you can explore:

Mike Brown

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Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Contact us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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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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The challenge in a client meeting was developing the strategy for a later meeting intended to build support for a biennial community event. The potential supporters in the later meeting were community organizations. The tricky balance was articulating an initial direction the group couldn’t derail while providing room for them to contribute ideas and time to make the event successful.

Listening to the discussion among the team leader and other members of the organization driving the event, I grabbed paper, a Sharpie, and started organizing their aspirational comments into a presentation for the next day’s meeting.

Within forty-five minutes, I drafted a few slides for them to review and modify. At the conclusion, they had a game plan for securing participation and soliciting input while avoiding comments they didn’t want.

The team leader asked, “How is it possible to listen to us talk and turn it into a strategy so quickly?”

9 Creative Thinking Skills to Turn Talk into Strategy

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The team leader’s question prompted this list of 9 creative thinking skills that help turn strategic conversations (or even conversations that seem like talking without any particular strategic focus) into something that feels like strategy.

  1. Tie the comments to a structure that’s familiar, already sold in, popular with many people, or classically strategic
  2. Listen for smart things people say, even if they are snippets, and incorporate those right away into the strategy
  3. Remind team members of the smart things they said if they start gravitating toward liking things that aren’t as smart
  4. If team members are saying smarter things, use those while still keeping previous smart things that you are nudging down the list
  5. Listen for things they say more frequently than other things and quickly determine whether these things are smart or simply popular but not smart
  6. If something is off the mark, try to ignore, downplay, or otherwise make sure the idea isn’t brought up again
  7. Repeat the most important and high-impact items in familiar and reinforcing ways
  8. Use odd numbers – five slides, five categories of information (one to a slide), three bullets of explanation under each of the five slides – because odd numbers seem as if you tried to get that one more idea
  9. Incorporate a bigness and boldness into the language you use to describe the strategy in order to stretch the organization

Remember that although these creative thinking skills are presented sequentially, they may be used in any order.

There may also be equally important creative thinking skills not included on the list. This is simply a stab at dissecting how these types of exercises have developed in a variety of situations.

The net of it is this: a lot seemingly wasted business conversations can contribute to progress if you have the wherewithal to listen and restructure them into clear strategies.  Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Improve Strategic Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategic planning and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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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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There are multiple types of people I love, including :

  • Underdogs
  • Those that patiently build success by deliberately following a plan
  • People that display unwavering loyalty
  • A leader willing to a make decision not in his or her own best interests because it’s the right thing to do
  • Those that prize honesty, openness, and vulnerability over gamesmanship, manipulation, and never failing to exploit any advantage

I don’t know how correlated all of those characteristics are with people that have successful strategic relationships.

An article in The Kansas City Star about Dayton Moore, the general manager of the Kansas City Royals, however, suggests all of these characteristics intersect in how Moore has rebuilt the Royals and created a positive organizational culture.

Strategic-Relationships-Day

If I were to attempt to summarize the great lessons about strategic relationships in the article here, I would wind up repeating all the quotes from Dayton Moore and those speaking about how he does business.

So if you want to learn rich, meaningful lessons in the right way to approach strategic relationships, read the article by Vahe Gregorian from Sunday’s Kansas City Star.

For any of our readers that try to cultivate strong strategic relationships and the personal characteristics listed above, it will be well worth your time to leave this article right now and go read up on how Dayton Moore does business. Even if you AREN’T a baseball or Kansas City Royals fan!

Trust me! – Mike Brown

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ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Contact us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Download Your Free

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 presented a solo social media presentation at the February 2016 Social Media Strategies Summit in Las Vegas. For folks in and around (or willing to head to) Chicago, I’ll be presenting a workshop on creating fantastic content at the April 2016 Social Media Strategies Summit in the Windy City.

SMSS_Graphic

These events are always treasure troves of great learning and networking with such varied and smart marketers from around the country. Coming out of the Las Vegas event, I have several articles in queue.

14 Top Content Marketing Quotes from the Social Media Strategies Summit

Here is the first of the articles from the Social Media Strategies Summit, with fourteen quotes on content marketing, social media platforms, and standing out from the event’s great speakers.

Content Marketing and Community Engagement

“Credibility silences noise.” @BevJack MGM

“We time lapse everything around here because things are always moving.” @BevJack MGM

“Many brands miss the opportunity to create stories around the role they play in their users’ lives.” @mdeziel

“In the end, storytelling comes down to two things: connection and engagement.” – Ryan Mathews as shared by @RMMAGEDDON

“There are B2B opportunities in viral video because so few B2B companies have tried to do it.” @JereMarketer

Being Distinctive with Content Marketing

“A good piece of content shouldn’t need music. The visual scroll should be enough to get people to stop. “ @BevJack MGM

“There is a lot of crap and average people out there on social media. It’s much harder to stand out when everyone can start doing things and claim to be an expert.” @PhilPallen

Making the Most of Social Platforms

“You should be able to perform at a B+ or better level on any platform or kill your time spent on it.” @JereMarketer

“It’s two thousand sixteen; I don’t want to see pixels or eggs (on Twitter).” @PhilPallen

“Pinterest is a catalog of ideas” not a social network. “If Facebook is selling the past & Twitter the present, Pinterest is offering the future” @ChristineCassis @Pinterest

“The Bellagio Fountains are the nineteenth most Instagrammed place in the world.” @BevJack

Bellagio-Fountains

“Rather than be mediocre on 10 social platforms, be a rock star on 3.” @PhilPallen

Let Me Tell You about Myself

“I like to go on tangents. And I f’n like to curse a lot.” @RMMAGEDDON

“I’m opinionated, but I’m honest and I’m sweet.” @PhilPallen

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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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.

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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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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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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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When was the last time you invested 45 minutes to check your 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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