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Idea-Magnets-TitleI think this is a first today. It’s an excerpt from another publication about Brainzooming creative thinking content.

Specifically, this recap of Monday’s “Idea Magnets – Creative Business Leadership” webcast I presented for the American Marketing Association is from “Inside the Executive Suite.” This newsletter is a weekly feature within the Armada Executive Intelligence Briefing System. We worked with Keith Prather, the publisher of the Armada Executive Intelligence Brief, for many years in the corporate world. Additionally, when we have a client engagement requiring a larger group of facilitators, Keith is my first call. He was at ground zero when we developed the techniques that later became the Brainzooming strategy methodology.

Beyond this Idea Magnets recap, you should sign up for a free 30-day trial of the Executive Intelligence Briefing System. It’s designed to keep executives current with both what’s going on in the world and what it’s going to mean for their businesses. Additionally, since Keith won’t listen to my pricing strategy advice, you can subscribe to the entire array of multi times per week publications for less than $100 a year. It SHOULD be a four or five-figure subscription, so like I said, subscribe now before I convince Keith to raise the prices!

Without delay, here’s the Armada take on the seven creative thinking characteristics of Idea Magnets. – Mike Brown

 

 7 Keys to How “Idea Magnets” Boost Creativity from “Inside the Executive Suite”

Know someone incredibly strong at generating new ideas and attracting team members who also excel at imagining creative ideas?

If so, you know an “idea magnet.”

Here is our recap and the take-aways from each (idea magnet) characteristic discussed.

Idea Magnets are . . .

1. Inspiring

Idea magnets generate interest and passion for the big objectives and dramatic visions they are trying to accomplish within their organizations. Unlike creative geniuses who may work in a more solitary basis, they want strong creative leaders surrounding them. The bigger team’s creativity helps identify the details behind making the vision a reality.

In sharing a big vision for an organization, whether it’s stated as a core purpose, vision, or mission statement isn’t critical. What’s important is the statement boldly challenges and stretches the organization.

Our take-away: Idea magnets ground creative ideas in strategies and objectives. They are NOT pursuing creativity for creativity’s sake.

2. Serving

Idea magnets are servant leaders. They participate in the challenging tasks they ask their teams to address. They also grow their team members into idea magnets themselves through strategic mentorship, sharing personal lessons with their teams, challenging the status quo, and cultivating team diversity.

Idea magnets surround themselves with smarter, more talented people and display patience while team members do their own explorations to imagine ways to turn the idea magnet’s vision into reality.

Our take-away: Idea magnets aren’t standoffish. They are in the middle of imagining ideas AND accomplishing results.

3. Attracting

Just as magnets attract metal, idea magnets attract great creative leaders and their big ideas. What makes idea magnets so attractive? They bring excitement to the workplace. They also display “abundance thinking. ” What others would consider as constraints, they see as opportunities to pursue more abundant resources and possibilities. They also provide what other leaders need to be abundantly creative, including physical space, time, resources, tools, and interactions with new (and new types of ) people.

Our take-away: The intangibles in business often support abundance thinking. Ideas, energy, passion, and learning aren’t limited, so identify ways to take greater advantage of them.

4. Connecting

Idea magnets connect people and situations to fuel creativity. They are great “and” thinkers. This means they embrace and easily work with both ends of what others might see as opposite perspectives. Idea magnets are strong at:

  • Generating and prioritizing ideas
  • Thinking creatively and implementing ideas
  • Exploiting tested ideas and unknown possibilities

Using creative formulas, idea magnets combine possibilities others would typically miss to create many more new ideas.

Our take-away: Idea magnets we’ve known in business are all strong at spotting relationships between apparently disconnected things. These connections help fuel ideas and anticipate future opportunities.

5. Encouraging

Idea magnets use multiple tools in multiple ways to motivate team members. For example, they might use time in contrasting ways. Sometimes idea magnets negotiate for MORE time so team members can finish necessary creative thinking and implementation. Other times, they may be maxing out the team’s capacity with more projects than they can handle. This LESSENS times for unnecessary creative thinking and encourages rapid progress.

Idea magnets routinely facilitate unique creative experiences, maximize fresh perspectives from new team members, and celebrate successes and the learnings from new ideas that fall short of intended impacts.

Our take-away: By adding one new or unusual variable, idea magnets facilitate once-in-a-lifetime creative experiences. This concept extends to personal relationships, so all you long-time married folks take note!

6. Deciding

Idea magnets imagine and attract many ideas. Processing those ideas so their teams aren’t overwhelmed is imperative. That’s why being strong at “deciding” is vital.

When a project or initiative launches, idea magnets identify upfront how decisions will be made as completion draws near. Sometimes the idea magnet makes the decision; other times, team members will be deciding how the team proceeds. Knowing upfront the freedom team members have in exploring ideas and the approach to setting priorities signals how much autonomy others have to shape strategies to move forward.

Our take-away: While they say in brainstorming sessions there are no bad ideas, there are. It’s vital to pick the right time to decide on good and bad ideas to sustain creative thinking.

7. Replenishing

Applying creative thinking to business issues is mentally stimulating. There’s still the need, however, for idea magnets to replenish creative energy along for the team. Idea magnets understand what encourages their creative passions and what will prepare team members to hit their creative peaks. Idea magnets have to know the people, places, situations, times, and techniques that most readily maximize creativity.

Our take-away: Managing a business team’s creativity is like a basketball coach managing the varied talents and personalities on the team. The idea magnet may have to try a variety of “player” combinations before the team scores creatively.

Is creative thinking and creative business leadership for everyone?

A question at the webcast’s conclusion asked whether creative business leadership is important if you don’t work in a creative field or company. The answer was it’s even more important then to bring fresh ideas to how an organization delivers customer value. – “Inside the Executive Suite”

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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Can-I-ask-questionThere’s one strategic thinking question that will make you a better marketer?

Yes there is ONE strategic thinking question you can ask (and, of course, answer) that all by itself will make you a better marketer.

Let me share how it works with you.

I was presenting a mini-workshop on branding and social media with a new client the other day. Before we wrapped up, one of the participants asked what I thought about paying to include something from their business in a welcome gift going to new residents in a community the business serves.

She probably wanted a simple thumbs up or thumbs down, but that wasn’t what she needed. I gave her a suggestion and a strategic thinking question.

The suggestion was to look at any type of marketing investment as a sponsorship. You’re investing a specific amount of money to associate your brand with something – whether it’s a sports team, a direct marketing piece, an advertisement, or even social media content. Thinking about it that way, you can see how your marketing investments are sponsorships, even if untraditional sponsorships.

And once you start looking at all your marketing investments through a sponsorship marketing model, you have to ask a fundamental sponsorship marketing question:

“What are we going to do and how much are we going to invest to market this sponsorship?”

That’s the one question you can ask that will automatically make you a stronger strategic marketer.

It’s vital with any sponsorship to do the strategic thinking about how much you invest to link your brand in an effective and business-building way to the sponsorship asset you’re renting from the organization that owns it.

Answering that question from a strategic perspective makes you consider:

  • How do we integrate this with other things we do?
  • What can we do to make sure this supports our most important objectives?
  • What other things can we do to get more advantage from our investment?
  • What’s the right ratio to invest in marketing the sponsorship to get the greatest value from it?
  • How would we measure whether this works or not?

By looking at your marketing investments from a sponsorship marketing perspective and asking one strategic thinking question, you’re forced to address integrated marketing, metrics, ROI, and making sure you have tactics to support all of these.

In the case of the welcome packet, we covered, within a few short minutes, what would make this make sense for a non-primary market, A/B testing, negotiating contact information on who receives the packets, creating an offer for those receiving the information, and providing a landing page specific to this offer to track whether people take action on it.

See what I mean about being a stronger strategic marketer.

There you have it.

Be sure to add this strategic thinking question to your repertoire: “What are we going to do and how much are we going to invest to market this sponsorship?” 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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If you use a social media agency to create your brand’s social content, they won’t want you to read this, but who cares.

Your Social Media Agency Doesn’t Want You Reading This

Last week, I was getting my hair cut at the barber shop I’ve been going to for five years. I go there because the owner is focused on creating a cool, high service environment, there is reasonable stability among its employees, and it is close by.

Business seemed slow, and the conversation between the person who cuts my hair and another long-time employee turned to social media, in part, because they know I do “something with social media strategy.” Talking about the social media agency the owner hired to create social media content, they expressed their frustration over what was being posted on Facebook.

The big complaint was the posts either weren’t accurate (i.e., on how frequently to get a haircut) or seemed odd (a Jim Morrison quote about haircuts and mistakes).

I quickly started looking at the Facebook page. I subscribe to it, but hadn’t noticed ANY of the updates from the place’s page (I know, surprise, surprise).

The problem was clear in an instant.

On the surface, the content was VERY much in category. There was an Earth Day post of a guy whose hair and beard were green. There are quotes and pictures related to men’s’ haircuts and shaves.

Those all make sense.

Nothing on the Facebook page, however, related to the barber shop’s brand experience, personality, or people – all the things that set it apart and turn people into loyal customers.

It was if the new social media agency simply posted generic content on men’s haircuts without any other thought about how the brand related to the content. The social media agency has gone the easy route (creating external relevance) without doing the hard part of content marketing – appropriately integrating the brand so there’s a reason for current or prospective customers to care about the content in any meaningful way.

Great-Content

What Social Media Strategy Includes

This gap between content and a meaningful brand connection is common. It’s why we advocate developing a content strategy implementing the right mix of:

  • Your audience’s interests
  • Intriguing content
  • The appropriate level of brand presence.

There’s no one answer that works for all brands or even all content a brand creates.

It doesn’t work, however, to just see what your competitors are doing and launch into content marketing or simply start sharing content about what you do. If a social media agency advocates sharing content right way and figuring out the right mix later (if ever), you’ll just be wasting time/effort/money and probably making a BIG mistake that could cost your brand even more.

If this is the path you are one and want to see just how far your social media agency has led you astray, download our social media strategy diagnostics eBook and find out for yourself.

You’ll quickly realize the difference it would make to work with a partner who understands both brand strategy AND social media strategy.

That combination turns social sharing into business results. – 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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1

Not every lesson is a positive one.

Talking about careers with my niece, I mentioned the scariest boss I ever had, and how even that experience with a boss who said and did some pretty scary things led to valuable lessons. Fortunately or unfortunately, the lessons were all about how to never act when I got to be the boss!

The conversation got me thinking about other situations where scary comments turned into valuable business lessons

Scary-Stuff5 Scary Quotes about Strategic Planning

Since I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about gearing up for strategic planning, I jotted down these five scary quotes about strategic planning. Intriguingly, all five came from consultants at one consulting firm we worked with for several years during my corporate life.

Admittedly, I learned many positive lessons during that time about strategic planning. Yet these five scary quotes about strategic planning from our consultants profoundly shaped my thinking about how NOT to do strategic planning:

1. “We’ll put together the strategic planning process as we go.”

Whenever you put together a strategic planning process while you’re doing it, you know something is wrong. Earlier in my career it felt edgy, but as a more experienced business person, it just seems pathetic. If you’re a consultant and selling your expertise at strategic planning you need to walk in the door ready to go with something that’s pretty close to working.

2. “There are 14 tasks to complete between these two steps in the process.”

Fourteen tasks to get from one step to another in the strategic planning process??? Talk about overkill!!! And even if it isn’t overkill and you actually NEED 14 tasks to move from one step to the next, NEVER admit to anyone you’re involving them in that much minutiae.

3. “This is better done than right.”

Really? REALLY? Yes, a consultant told me it was more important to get a presentation completed than address whether it was right. I’ve since stolen and revamped the quote not once, but twice. Even really bad ideas can be the seeds of strategic brilliance.

4. “My family’s important to me, so I make sure I’m home every night.”

On the surface this quote is not only NOT scary, it seems to be a wonderful sentiment considering the outrageously long hours consultants often work. The problem was the consultant saying it in Kansas City (where our company was headquartered) LIVED in Chicago. Yes, he flew back and forth every day between Chicago (first morning flight out) and Kansas City (last evening flight out). It was supposedly cheaper than a hotel room. Right.

5. “I did an interview with a reporter today about business prospects in (your) industry.”

Bad idea. VERY bad idea. When one consultant did this (and was quoted in print  questioning our earnings projections for the year), his firm was fired the next day within 90 minutes of our CFO seeing the article in a national industry newspaper. As a result, they lost a 7-figure annual consulting engagement. Yup, VERY BAD idea.

Do you have any scary consultant quotes about strategic planning or anything else?

If enough of you have scary quotes from consultants to share, maybe we’ll have enough for a regular feature, or the next Dilbert comic strip!  – 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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Yesterday we explored taking an outside-in approach to planning a blog or content marketing editorial calendar. This social media strategy helps determine the relevant length an editorial calendar should extend based on the audience’s perspective.

As you identify audience-oriented content topics, here are three important questions to ask as you consider where the topics fit on the content marketing editorial calendar:

  • Will the audience be thinking about this topic as it’s happening?
  • Will the audience also be thinking about the topic sooner and / or later than it’s happening?
  • If they will be thinking about the topic at other times, when will that be?

Beyond simply identifying audience-oriented topics, these outside-in timing questions help improve how to sync topics with when the audience is actively seeking information or related content about those areas of interest to them.

Three Examples of Outside-In Timing and New Content Marketing Opportunities

Crowd-STL

1. One Event, Multiple Opportunities to Share Content

As we were developing the blog editorial calendar for a client in the market research field, it was clear their target audience operates on an annual cycle. We identified early fall as a time when the market research firm’s clients would attend the largest market research conferences. This is a natural time to talk about our client’s conference participation. Importantly, though, we also identified their clients as thinking about conferences mid-summer (“How to Choose the Best Market Research Conference”), immediately before them (“Getting the Most Value from a Market Research Conference”), and right afterward (“Top 10 Learnings during Conference Season”). Asking our three questions identified multiple related content opportunities (new content, sharing old content, soliciting guest posts, etc.) they might have otherwise missed.

2. Reaching Out Before the Primary Brand Interaction

I wrote earlier about Southwest Airlines sending me an email the previous evening saying we’d have Wi-Fi on my next morning’s flight. The night before was when I was actually THINKING about what work had to be completed before getting on the plane. The perfectly timed email from Southwest Airlines contained very pertinent information of benefit me hours before my direct interaction with the brand.

3. Shifting Timing and Content Sharing Opportunities

The Brainzooming Group has tried to emphasize strategic planning content later in the year since our experience has been many companies were thinking about strategic planning much later in the year than previously. This year, with many calls from potential clients already thinking about multi-year or annual planning processes, we’ll be shifting strategic planning content to this more traditional timeframe in Q2, even if planning doesn’t actually HAPPEN until later in the year.

Social Media Strategy from Outside-In Timing

As if it’s not clear by now, we are big proponents of external audience-driven social media strategy as the way to make a content marketing effort come alive and truly engage your audiences. The challenge, as it always is, is after looking from the outside-in, taking the resulting topic ideas and making things happen with them. – Mike Brown

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One topic covered in nearly every content marketing or social media strategy workshop we do is the importance of developing and using an editorial calendar for a brand’s blog and content sharing.

There are various ways to develop and use an editorial calendar.

Some organizations use an editorial calendar to drive content consistency, i.e. publishing content on the same topic (or the same type of post) every week on the same day. While that helps create predictability for an audience (i.e., they know what to expect on a certain day each week), this editorial calendar structure can be too much about what the organization wants to publish on a specific day vs. what an audience member is seeking that day.

Calendar

Creating an Outside-In Editorial Calendar

The final form and detail an editorial calendar takes needs to make sense for the organization. We recommend, however, starting with a time horizon for an editorial calendar that FIRST makes sense for audience members and then fits the organization.

Using a business-to-business example, some business people’s activities very significantly over the course of the year and may go through a variety of cycles. For others, every quarter may look much like the next one. Some have an activity cycle that may be monthly with a slight variation each quarter. If you understand the relevant activity patterns of your audience, however, that is a good starting point for structuring an editorial calendar.

With that type of outside-in look at your audience’s typical time horizons, consider how it fits your organization.

How do your organization’s activity cycles compare to your customers? Is the organization’s predominant business pattern annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, or even daily?

Ideally the time horizons match up closely, and you’re set to explore topics that match up with the frequency those cycles suggest.

If the time horizons don’t match up, however, figure out a balance between the two. While it would be great to orient completely toward the customer, ultimately the editorial calendar planning horizon has to work for your organization to keep it going.

Once you’ve identified an appropriate time horizon, it’s time to start exploring topics and matching them to the calendar. And we’ll explore some important questions to do that tomorrow. – Mike Brown

 

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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 a social media strategy 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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1

This post started as an opportunity to beat up an event I attended focused on information sharing from multiple panelists.

While the organizers know better, they failed to address fundamentals to make the event more valuable for both in-person attendees and those trying to report the event via social media channels.

Panel-Questions

The event’s content was intriguing, and I did some live tweeting, but it was in the absence of four items that would have made it a much stronger (and easier to report) event:

  1. Create and over-communicate an event hashtag to find and aggregate tweets plus let audience members connect more easily
  2. Show a title slide for all presenters with their names, organization affiliations, and Twitter handles all correctly spelled
  3. State upfront, during, and afterward what the organizers intend for the audience to walk away with as a benefit for being at the event
  4. Provide context (or some model) for how the presenters’ activities or points of view fit together relative to the event’s theme

See what I mean?

Four simple steps to dramatically boost an event’s impact for in-person attendees and those participating online.

But what about the intent of this piece changing?

Well, as I was writing this, I recalled the workshop I presented the other day at the Enterprise Center of Johnson County.

While I had my Twitter name and a hashtag on every slide, I never once called attention to it as a way to invite live tweeting. I also neglected to share the host organization’s Twitter handle. And none of it was written on the whiteboard where it would have been more visible for attendees.

It’s definitely EASY to point out other’s shortcomings, but it’s far better to have a checklist you hold up to others AND follow yourself.

Now that there is a four-point checklist, I’ll be trying to follow it for my future events.

How about you? – Mike Brown

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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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