4

I was facilitating a strategic planning session and letting the conversation among participants extend much longer than typical.

To my surprise, several participants in the strategy session repeatedly apologized throughout the day for “talking too much.” 

As I told them multiple times, I was allowing the conversation to take up more time than expected because the group needed to address certain issues and better understand each other’s perspectives. This was vital since we needed to reconcile their differing perspectives before creating the organization’s strategic plan.

I reassured them that the minute they drifted off into unproductive conversation (i.e., discussions that didn’t move us toward creating a stronger strategic plan), I would most certainly shut it down and take the group to the next strategic thinking exercise.

5 Reasons to Cut Off Conversations in Strategic Planning Sessions

StoplightAnd what would constitute unproductive conversation not moving the group forward toward a stronger strategic plan?

The answer is akin to the Justice Potter Stewart reply to the question about what is or isn’t obscene: I know it when I see it.

In the interests of being more definitive, however, here are five behaviors that stand in the way of productive conversations within strategic planning sessions:

  1. Needlessly restating obvious information or view points
  2. Over-sharing knowledge in a way that stops out others from contributing
  3. Heading into off-topic issues that don’t contribute to delivering expected planning outcomes
  4. Filibustering (on even a relevant topic) without adding anything new to anyone’s understanding
  5. A group or key individual who refuses much needed help to improve

So if we’re facilitating a strategic planning session for your organization and call “time” on a meandering conversation, you can come back to this list to figure out what just happened! – 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.

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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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A few weeks ago, I texted one of my strategic mentors thanking him for one of the most valuable content strategy lessons he taught me: strong content works in nearly any order.

Over the years I reported to him, I saw him arrange, rearrange, and rearrange again so many presentations as he tried to get the flow just right for the topic, audience, and experience of a particular situation.

The original beginning might wind up as the new conclusion. The apparently logical order of primary messages might be completely upended to make a stronger point. At the last minute, a well-rehearsed transition during a multi-presenter presentation might shift so you were handed the microphone earlier or later than you expected, with much more or much less time to fill, respectively.

And you know what?

The changes worked nearly every time because we had spent so much time making sure the content was strong.

This content strategy lesson benefits me continually in creating blogs, articles, and presentations. This lesson provides countless opportunities to refresh and tailor content for the situation or audience, serving up what is most important in an order designed specifically for each audience.

If you or your brand struggle with generating enough content and adapting it to your audiences’ tastes, put this vital lesson into practice: 

Strong content works in nearly ANY order. 

Go ahead and give it a try.

THE END . . . or maybe this should be the beginning? -  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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Vegas-BabyIt’s Vegas, Baby! And I’m presenting a social media strategy workshop at the Social Media Strategy Summit on 7 Lessons in Creating Fantastic, Creative Content for a group of incredible brands.

7 Lessons for Fantastic, Creative Content Marketing

The entire social media strategy workshop is created around the value of using models to make content marketing and social networking readily understandable and actionable within an organization.

As a resource for the workshop attendees and to give all of you a sense of the approach, here are the seven social media strategy lessons along with links to more detailed content throughout the Brainzooming blog.

Lesson 1: Imagine You’re a TV Executive

Lesson 2: Place the Audience First in Your Content Strategy

Lesson 3: You Need Lots of Topic Ideas

Lesson 4: Match Your Business Objective with the Social Network and Appropriate Content

Lesson 5: Be an Engaging Brand 24/7

Lesson 6: Balancing Content and Commercial Messages

Lesson 7: Design a Sustainable Content Strategy

And once the workshop is completed? Watch out New York, New York . . . I’m headed your way for roller coaster riding!  -  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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In years past years I’ve watched the Super Bowl advertising extravaganza with a tight focus on evaluating each ad and the tools of persuasion used by their creators through rankings, analysis, etc.

This year–not so much. I watched with interruptions, people talking around me, showing me dog YouTube videos and Peyton Manning related tweets. In other words, how real consumers see the ads.

Something Old, Little New, and Lots of Red, White, and Blue

So, I won’t try “best” and “worst.” But certain ad themes do seem to show up every year so I picked a couple that stood out this year to me among the Super Bowl Advertising.

Super Bowl Advertising Theme 1: Didn’t You Used to Be Famous?

Again, a Super Bowl perennial. Appearances here included Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Bud Light Skankmobile, Bruce Willis for Honda safety, and everybody they could dredge up from the 80s for Radio Shack. Arnold and Bud Light should have been embarrassed and I wasn’t sure the Honda ad was ever going to end. But I just might go to Radio Shack and see what’s changed. Not because the ad was funny or beautiful or made both laugh and cry in 30 seconds, but because it got across the desired message: we’ve changed and we think it’s worth your time to see how. I also liked the Oikos ad. Not sure I ever watched a full episode of Full House, but this ad balanced the product, the actors and the inside baseball jokes in just the right way.

Super Bowl Advertising Theme 2: Patriotism

A perennial theme of Super Bowl ads. This year’s the efforts ranged from Chrysler’s return to Detroit only this time with Bob Dylan rather than Eminem, to Budweiser’s Hero Parade with the Clydesdales to Coke’s multilingual “America, the Beautiful.” The Chrysler and Bud ads were more replay than original. Coke broke some new ground, however, and apparently, riled up a few folks who thing “American” is a language. The patriotism themed ad I liked best was the one from WeatherTech. It hit right chords on buy Buy-American without being over produced or jingoistic. A relatively small company making a cut through the clutter message.

Other Super Bowl Advertising Stand Outs

Outside of those themes, there were four other ads I thought particularly good. Microsoft did a great job making technology seem human, General Mills made Cheerios seem timeless rather than old fashioned, Jaguar did much the same for its new F-Type, and Nestle put peanut butter inside chocolate in a whole new way. – Barrett Sydnor


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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.

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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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