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Whenever readers or workshop audience members initiate conversations and ask questions, it is so much easier to write blog content.

I doubt that is a unique situation.

If you are looking to find more ideas for your content marketing strategy, have you tried mining your organization’s daily customer conversations?

Tap into open-ended customer conversations already taking place with sales, customer service, executives, technical staff, drivers, retail associates, e-commerce and social media staff, market researchers, and any other employees interacting with customers whether in-person or virtually.

Photo by: Seleneos | Source: Photocase.com

Photo by: Seleneos | Source: Photocase.com

Additionally, create new opportunities to capture customer conversations through listening posts you create. These are specific interactions you create to capture additional inputs from customers about your brand and its products and services. It could be as simple as actually capturing the feedback from questions you are already having your employees ask customers during routine interactions. It might extend, however, to doing something completely new to find out what customers are asking or saying about your brand.

4 Customer Conversations and Content Marketing Strategy Ideas

How do you turn these conversations into content marketing possibilities?

One way is to think about the conversations based on their nature (statements vs. questions) and tone (positive to negative). Categorizing customer conversations along these two dimensions is a first step toward turning them into content using the matrix below.

  • Positive statements can suggest ways to highlight brand value.
  • Positive questions turn into education opportunities
  • Negative comments are opportunities to anticipate objectives and challenges other customers are facing but not voicing.
  • Negative questions open the door to both process changes to address pain points and update opportunities for what your brand is doing in these areas.

Customer-Convo-Med

Effectively mining customer conversations sets you up to expand content you can be better assured is relevant to customers and prospects because THEY are generating the topics!  – 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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I compare how we approach creating Brainzooming strategic thinking workshops to how a band develops a live music set list for a concert. For example, I read somewhere that when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band go out on tour, they have more than two hundred songs ready to slot into any one concert. They play some songs nearly all the time; other songs might only appear once.

That’s comparable to how we select specific strategic thinking questions and exercises from among our large (and always growing) repertoire for a client session. We include some exercises (in one form or another) in nearly every workshop. These are supplemented by less frequently used strategic thinking exercises serving a particular role to address a client’s needs.

Similarly, we select specific exercises to teach at conference workshops to best address a particular conference topic or learning objective. For the Brand Strategy Conference in San Francisco, we used the Outside-In Innovation Fake Book of Strategic Thinking Exercises as the basis for a brand innovation workshop. We concentrated on how companies can use customer, market, competitor, and other external, outside-in looks for brand innovation.

8 Strategic Thinking Exercises for Brand Innovation

Among the sixteen exercises in the Fake Book, we picked eight that were most relevant for brand innovators. Want to apply them to your own brand innovation needs? Here is the set list we used in the workshop (along with the Fake Book page numbers):

1. Looking at Your Brand as a Set of Benefits (Page 7)

This brand innovation exercise is central to most of the following benefits-based exercises that unlock innovation opportunities.

2. New Ways to Enhance Benefit Delivery (Page 8)

Using your audience’s needs, this exercise lets you imagine new ways to address them through the brand experience.

3. Innovating Brand Experience Proof Points (Page 12)

This exercise explores ways you currently deliver and could potentially strengthen your brand experience backstage and onstage.

Brand-Experience-Mapping

4. Determining Your Benefit-Based Competitors (Page 8)

Your competitive set looks dramatically different when you identify competitors based on brands delivering comparable benefits (instead of simply picking those that look like your brand).

5. Identifying New Markets (Page 10)

If your brand is seeking growth, where else can you deliver benefits central to your brand in new markets? This exercise yields the answers.

6. Messaging Benefits in New Ways (Page 9)

There may be many brands in diverse markets providing benefits comparable to yours. Go to school to discover new ways to sharpen and improve your messaging.

7. Deconstructing What Your Brand Does (Page 22)

One of our favorite exercises (What’s It Like?) provides multiple strategic and brand innovation ideas to change the game for your brand.

8. Disrupt or Be Disrupted (Page 20)

There’s no one way to disrupt your brand or others in the marketplace. These strategic thinking questions are a starting point, however, to imagine a range of potential disruptions.

 

If you have brand management responsibilities in your position, download the Outside-In Innovation Fake Book today (it’s still free to download!).

Then you can use this set of exercises to start thinking about your brand in a dramatically new way.

Chances are, there will be a million dollar idea in there for your brand too! – Mike Brown

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Looking for Brand Innovation to Grow Your Business? Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!


Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking eBook

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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Do you have many things you want your employees to understand about your corporate branding strategy, what they should be doing to carry it out, and how they should interact with customers to fulfill your brand promise?

Do you have lots to say about your corporate branding strategy, but no time or opportunity to say it all?

Try these four ideas to prioritize internal messages for employees to help them understand and carry out your corporate branding strategy.

1. Crafting Brief Internal Brand Messages

This idea is from a corporate branding consultant. Assemble all the internal brand messages you hope to share with employees and put them to this test:

“If you had 3 minutes, a megaphone, and all your employees in the parking lot, what would you say?”

Three minutes translates to approximately four hundred words – about this blog post’s length. With that limit, which internal brand messages will make the cut?

2. Even Shorter Internal Brand Messages

This puts your messages to the tougher elevator speech test:

“If you have a 30-second elevator ride, what internal brand message would you want your employees to be able to share with customers (knowing they also have to understand, explain, and carry out that message)?

In crafting the elevator speech, what elements of the brand promise, brand benefits, and points of differentiation are vital?

Elevator-Picture

3. Creating Instantaneous Brand Messages

At a long-ago workshop, author Jay Conrad Levinson challenged the marketers to develop brand memes. Levinson used “meme” to represent a symbol or icon instantly recognizable that conveys your brand and its promise to customers.

A text-based logo with a bland brand name doesn’t pass this test. In that case, what else could you depict to instantly allow customers to get your brand, what it stands for, and what it does?

101002 The Brainzooming Group Logo - No Tagline copy

Our Meme

4. First, Last, Only Corporate Branding Strategy Messages

This final idea is a variation on a reminder for getting the most from church: What would you want your first brand message to employees to be? What would you want your last brand message to employees to be? And if you could deliver only one brand message to employees, what would it include?

Have three individuals or groups answer this question separately. Look for the common messages among the three scenarios. Those are the ones to prioritize.

From Corporate Branding Strategy to Internal Brand Messages

Try these four ideas to prioritize your internal brand messages and fashion something employees can understand, remember, and carry out successfully.  – Mike Brown

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

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 more employees 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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If your brand has been battered in the marketplace, you need to develop and implement a turnaround corporate branding strategy. Having been there and done that with a Fortune 500 business-to-business brand, here are five keys to successful turnaround branding.

5 Keys to a Successful Turnaround Corporate Branding Strategy

Traffic-Circle

1. Be prepared for a multi-front branding battle.

A turnaround corporate branding strategy is not a one front battle. If a brand were just a logo, it would be. Since a brand is more than a new ad and a new logo, however, you must fight the turnaround branding battle on multiple fronts. That involves the brand’s strategic foundation, its people, product and service quality, brand cues, and communications channels.

2. Ask questions and pursue facts relentlessly.

Facts are at the heart of driving turnaround branding strategy. Got big data? Got small data? Either way, use it to form strategies and decisions. You have to ensure you are listening everywhere for what customers, the marketplace, competitors, and other stakeholders are “telling” you about your brand position.

3. The real competitive threat isn’t always the obvious one.

It’s easy to think the competitors you are up against with your turnaround branding strategy are the competitors that look like your own brand. It’s vital, however, to identify potential competitive substitutes – even unconventional ones – for the benefits your brand delivers. Niche players could become the competitors that disrupt and crush your turnaround branding efforts.

4. Figure out what your brand is really about in the minds of customers.

Determine what your brand represents right now in the marketplace and what opportunities there are to change your position. Exploring the benefits the brand currently delivers and has the opportunity to start delivering could lead to a very different position than what the brand currently occupies.

5. Your brand story needs to be simple, consistent, and visible.

Getting ready to deliver on your updated brand promise means everything has to be aligned, beginning with alignment to your brand culture. Enabling the brand promise starts with having the right people in place, then training and developing them to carry out what you tell the marketplace you’ll do. The key is making sure everything is ready behind the scenes before you start talking to the market.

A Corporate Branding Strategy Caution

Don’t be fooled by there being just five turnaround corporate branding strategy steps on this list. There’s a lot contained in those five steps, so start early and keep at it!  – Mike Brown

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Looking for Brand Innovation to Grow Your Business? Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!


Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking eBook

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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Talking with a senior corporate marketing executive, he mentioned changes the past few years in how procurement strategies are influencing the buying process for marketing services (i.e., consultants, advertising agencies, marketing research firms, etc.).

A continued intense focus on reducing costs and increasing shareholder activism are creating this phenomenon. Even the highest level executives are accountable for significant overall budgets and delivering business results while being micro-managed by other internal departments with procurement strategies focused on nearly every spending detail.

These factors result in slower decision times, stops and starts before key initiatives launch (if they ever do), a reluctance to work with new outside marketing partners, many more hoops to make progress, and a significant amount of time on low value activity not directly benefiting the business or customers.

His inside assessment of how marketing executives are dealing with aggressive procurement strategies was very valuable.

Comparing his assessment to when I was a VP at a Fortune 300 corporation reveals slower, more hesitant decision making among corporations. Small multi-thousand dollar expenditure decisions a manager or director (and above) used to be able to make with minimal review now require a committee to authorize. This extends even to purchasing decisions driven by Senior VPs and C-level executives.

Fn-PiggyBank

Procurement Strategies – 5 Ways Marketing Executives Can Be More Effective

Based on experience in comparable situations with heavy procurement involvement, here are suggestions marketing executives can pursue to function more effectively and make sound business decisions in these types of environments.

1. Build a strong relationship with the head of purchasing.

Marketing executives need good allies who truly want to do the right things for the business and realize that, in most cases, “procurement” ISN’T the business. That means reaching out and proactively building strategic relationships is vital.

2. Ask for the right person to be your internal contact.

You want someone who has an inkling of how marketing is trying to grow the business. The person also needs to be willing to learn more about marketing. Ideally, see if there is a “math and music” person in purchasing you can work with directly. They will be in the best position to translate between the two worlds.

3. Involve your internal purchasing contact early and thoroughly.

To make a rigid purchasing process work better, involve your purchasing contact at the earliest stages of initiatives. The individual will learn more about why marketing is important and how you develop strategies and recommendations. Invite questions and idea sharing so your internal partner has a stake in making the outcome successful.

4. Identify flexible outside partners who can work with you in multiple ways.

Flexibility is important because you will need outside providers to expand and contract and pursue unconventional strategies to succeed amid rigid procurement strategies. There has to be something in it for your outside partners, so understand what’s important to them. Your best strategy may be to work with outside partners where you can interact directly with the most senior person on a regular basis who can make quick decisions.

5. Use numbers to keep everybody on the program.

If you’re a more creative than analytical marketing executive, boost your confidence and familiarity with the numbers-side of marketing. Having a strong handle on budgets, ROI forecasts and tracking, and quantifying the impact of trade-offs and opportunity costs serve you well. You can combat an overly-detailed internal process by showing you’re spending more in dollars on managing the process than the absolute size of the decision the process is meant to address.

Making the Best of Procurement Strategies

There’s no single fix in this list, but combined, they will help you get business done better and faster for the good of customers and of the company.  – Mike Brown

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

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 more employees in strategy AND implementation success

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

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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

Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake 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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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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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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