11

Talk about a great use of social media listening to engage customers! The evening before last week’s BMA Minnesota innovation training presentation on Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation, I went to dinner at Crave in the Mall of America with good friends and Brainzooming blog readers Brian and Alison Wenck.

After parting ways with the Wencks, I walked into a store called Sox Appeal looking for orange socks to add to my collection. Lo and behold, they had multiple orange sock styles, and I bought 3 pairs of new orange socks.

Back at my hotel room later, I turned on Tweetdeck to catch up with happenings in the Twitter world. I tweeted about going to Mall of America and finding orange socks to give away at the next morning’s presentation.

In part, I mention brands in social media channels to see if they are listening and responding as part of their social media strategies. Not many responses come my way.

Within a very short time though, I had a reply from @MallOfAmerica wishing me well on the presentation. The tweet ended with “-lg,” which when I clicked on the @MallOfAmerica profile, told me Lisa Grimm (@lulugrimm) was handling the @MallOfAmerica account Wednesday night.

Lisa and I had a brief chat about Mall of America and its social media listening strategy. After bemoaning my four visits to MOA without getting to ride any rides, she invited me to stop by next time in town and definitely ride the rides! I invited Lisa to the presentation since she’d mentioned seeing info about it, but things were getting too crazy at work with the pending holiday season.

Granted, the Mall of America is a big operation, but think how smartly this brief personal encounter shows it is approaching its social media listening strategy. The Mall of America is:

  • Listening – Later in the evening (beyond typical business hours), they were listening when people were talking, not just when Mall of America was in full operating mode.
  • Reaching Out – I wasn’t looking to initiate a conversation with MOA since the orange socks were bought at a particular store. But because I mentioned the mall in the tweet, they took the opportunity to start a conversation.
  • Personalizing the Interaction – Even though it’s a business account, putting the tweeter’s initials on the tweet and the Twitter identities in the profile created both a business AND a personal connection. Although my haste caused me to take several times to get her name right, I’ve had a couple more conversations with Lisa on Twitter since then.
  • Inviting Future Engagement Online and IRL – The conversation about both the roller coasters and my interest in learning more about the Mall’s social media strategy led to the invite from Lisa to reach out to them next time I’m in town.

This is far and away the strongest social media listening and outreach integration I’ve experienced with any brand on Twitter. It’s a great standard for other organizations to emulate in social media listening strategy implementation! – Mike Brown

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

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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9

There’s a slide in my standard social media strategy presentation showing a young couple looking lovingly at one another. Okay, actually only the girl is looking lovingly. The boy’s face looks as if he’s brimming with ulterior motives!

The image is there to remind organizations considering social media that their strategies can’t resemble the teenage boy’s apparent dating strategy if they expect to build strong, lasting relationships.

The striking similarities between dating’s early stages and the first phases of implementing a successful social media strategy are a convenient way to gauge whether your organization’s social media strategy is likely be appropriate and successful.

With several Brainzooming presentations on social media strategy coming up, I wanted to share the specifics behind the slide’s message in more detail.

Here are 26 pieces of dating advice as valuable in trying to form a personal relationship as they are in creating successful social media-based relationships:

Preparing for Potential Relationships

As You Begin Pursuing Potential Relationships

In the Early Stages of a Relationship

  • Allow time to find out what’s interesting about the other person. What’s intriguing about someone else may not be readily apparent after a first meeting.
  • Make reasonable promises that you expect to keep on a timely basis.
  • Don’t place a lot of expectations on the relationship early on. Forget about demanding commitments right away or making someone change their behaviors as a precursor to continuing the relationship.
  • Don’t try to suffocate the person with too much communication.
  • Work to create positive, enjoyable time together without pressure to consummate the relationship right away.
  • Be available when the other person is interested. That means you have to commit to devoting the time to make a relationship work.
  • Small gestures are important and appropriate early on to show you’re interested in a relationship.

Follow all this advice faithfully, and your popularity and attractiveness is sure to rise both online and IRL. – Mike Brown

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

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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10

I’ll admit to being a very pre-meditated traveler. The night before a trip where I’m speaking to a conference or facilitating a Brainzooming strategy session, I spend time visualizing key events during the trip, thinking through what needs to be packed and what unusual situations to prepare for, just in case. Part of the pre-trip strategy involves identifying what absolutely has to be addressed before leaving and what can be handled while traveling.

As a result, it was a welcome surprise the night before my recent trip to speak to the Milwaukee Business Marketing Association when the following email arrived from Southwest Airlines.

Just as I was trying to anticipate what emails could get sent prior to leaving, the Southwest notification provided an alert that the next day’s flight would have Wi-Fi. How great to be able to incorporate this foreknowledge into planning for what could get accomplished while on the early flight the next morning.

Southwest Airlines successfully nailed what’s typically a big challenge for brands: knowing its customers well enough to understand when they’ll already be thinking about its brand. By anticipating this situation, Southwest increased receptiveness to its message since I already had its brand on my mind.

The challenge? While this is an ideal situation for a brand (talking to customers when they’re already focused on you), there’s no easy formula for doing it well. It really does take intense understanding of your marketplace, perhaps through ethnographic research where you have an opportunity to observe how your customers function and interact with your brand even when your brand isn’t formally present.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategy options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand 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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3

Websites, content, and registration forms are all part of a great business building strategy. Through them, businesses have the opportunity to capture information on people, particularly when website visitors are compelled to register to download information. That strategy creates leads and follow up phone calls (if a phone number has been required) to say they registered on the website and to check to see if the content marketer could find out a little more and share some additional information.

That’s all great.

Except for the fact a website visitor’s recollection of being on a website is often much, much dimmer than the impression created by all the information captured behind the scenes.

I had a voice mail last week from David (he of one name – kind of like Madonna – since he didn’t leave a last name) from a 2 or 3 word named company (although I could only understand the first word, “PR,” because he slurred the rest of the company’s name) about my recent registration on their website (for a download that I have no recollection of and no hints about from David to provide any context about it), wondering if I’d do him the pleasure of calling him back to get more information.

I guess David, as awkward as this may be, my answer is, “NO,” because a call back will require me to say, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Obviously you have my phone number, so there must have been some kind of contact. Based on your rushed and slurred message without any reference to what I may have been doing on your website (which I bet you, or somebody in your company knows), however, I have no clue what you’re talking about.

So here’s my advice to all you cool web-based content marketers immersed in your strategies of collecting information on whoever trips across your information-rich web presence:

  • Speak slowly if you’re leaving me a phone message
  • Give me your full name
  • More importantly, repeat the full name of your company, s-l-o-w-l-y
  • Remind me what I downloaded (because chances are I don’t remember, since I’m kind of a serial downloader)
  • When you tell me about how much you’d appreciate a call back, give me a compelling reason for why returning your call will be a BIG benefit to me too!

That’s my content marketing strategy advice for today. – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement.  To learn how we can structure a strategy to keep you ahead of your customers, email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320.

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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3

We were working with a client who is very quality-focused in all aspects of its product strategy. One of its brand elements is engineering products for extensive longevity, equating quality and durability in its brand promise.

While this strategy is part of supporting a premium price point for its product line, our interviews suggested the brand was not getting full credit in the market for its quality/durability combo. Beyond that, it was in fact being hurt in some segments where the durability it provides isn’t necessary, and potential customers are unwilling to pay the premium. The result is very low share in some potentially attractive segments.

We suggested a strategy of unbundling quality and durability in its corporate mindset as a way to potentially open up new opportunities. We advanced the idea that quality be viewed as a predictable relationship between product age and expected performance. By opening up this strategic view, we tried to get the client to see possibilities in producing a very high quality product engineered for a shorter life cycle than its typical line. If it can take costs out as a result, it could still represent a strong margin possibility while creating new strategic market opportunities it doesn’t have a shot at currently.

You may want to take a look at your own product and service strategy to see if you’ve co-mingled attributes which might make sense for your business needs (i.e., we can charge more if our products last longer) but don’t deliver the greatest maximum value for customers (i.e., those with no intention of keeping your products for as long as they’ll last).

If your brand isn’t getting full credit for everything it delivers, explore strategic opportunities to pull apart co-mingled attributes to create growth and emerging strategic opportunities. – Mike Brown

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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

When I began in sales, the training/teaching in the field was dominated by the Zig Ziglars, Earl Nightengales, and Tom Hopkins of the world. The answers to the “Why?” and “How do you know?” questions were all rooted in their specific experience and preconceived notions of what went into a successful sales approach.

That approach largely focused on creating good first impressions, learning a myriad of ways of handling objections, and mastering and continually using very specific (and often deceptive) closing techniques.

It was all very rote. You would ask A, the prospect would respond B, you said C, and they said D. That was great if the prospect indeed said B and D, but if they said 7, you were on your own. SPIN Selling changed that.

I was introduced to SPIN Selling, by Neil Rackham at a DMA conference in Washington, D.C. I remember the author, Neil Rackham, standing beside an overhead projector with a stack of transparencies in his hand—yes, before PowerPoint—describing the sales approach that the Huthwaite Corporation had developed. Light bulbs went on for me.

He described an approach also based on experience. But it was experience gleaned from the systematic observation of 35,000 in-person sales calls. Rackman and his colleagues had gone along on those calls and had tracked what types of questions and behaviors resulted in positive outcomes and what types of questions and behaviors resulted in negative outcomes.

That observation, categorization, and insight, i.e. that research, determined that successful sales indeed was the result of asking questions. But not the objection handling and closing questions of Ziglar and Hopkins. Rather, questions with specific intent and customer focus. Specifically: Situation Questions, Problem Questions, Implication Questions, and Need-Payoff Questions. Thus the S, P, I, and N of SPIN.

I bought SPIN Selling within a week of seeing Rackham present. I’ve read it—or later editions and iterations—at least a half a dozen times in the intervening years. I’ve taught it to hundreds of college students.

Oh, by the way, Rackham found that: 1) first impressions aren’t particularly important, 2) if you are generating objections you are probably already in trouble whether you know 16 ways to overcome them or not, and 3) the earlier and more often you try to close, the more likely the sales call is to end in failure. That’s real Why? and How do you know?   – Barrett Sydnor

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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

Oh, you mean I need to include a call to action?

Amazingly one of the things we often forget in marketing and marketing communications is that in the end we have to persuade someone to do something. We develop good products, use effective sales and distribution channels, understand what media reaches our target most effectively, write witty headlines and use imaginative images to catch their attention.

But we forget to persuade them.

Robert Cialdini’s Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion will make that much harder for you to do. Based upon literally hundreds of research studies, the book organizes persuasion into what Cialdini describes as six weapons of influence, though I’ve always preferred to think of them as tools.

The Weapon/Tool My shorthand way of remembering
Reciprocity When I take a free sample at Costco, I feel an something of an obligation to buy the four pound package of the stuff—even if I have no idea how and when I will consume that much.
Commitment
and consistency
My Mother told me to always keep my word (be consistent) and that’s what I’m going to do. Besides if I’m not true to my favorite brand, how will I ever choose among the 100s of drink options at the convenience store. Huge time saver.
Social Proof Some of you figured this out in high school, some of us didn’t. If everyone else is doing it, it is the right,or at least the safest,thing to do—particularly if we don’t want to be a social outcast.
Liking This one works both ways. We evaluate the message based on whether we like the messenger, rather than whether we believe the content. Also, if someone likes us, that shows their good judgment and makes them an obviously credible source—in other words, “Flattery will get you somewhere.”
Authority They didn’t call the show Father Knows Best for nothing.
Scarcity We always want what we can’t have. Make information seem privileged or items seem rare and that watch the perceived value increase.

After you read the book you will notice that effective ads and marketing communication vehicles have something in common. Nearly every one will incorporate one or more of these tools. You will also notice something about the ones that aren’t effective. They don’t use any of these tools. Read your organization’s sales materials, look at your ads, watch your videos. Are you using the tools?  – Barrett Sydnor

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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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