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Bob Thacker, Chief Cubist at Cubit Consulting, closed out the Business Marketing Association conference with a presentation on “Unleash Your Creativity.” Thacker’s creativity comments were a fitting and fun (and by fun, I mean both “strategic” and “enjoyable”) close for the BMA Unleash conference. Here are three themes on creative possibilities I took away to apply to my own creative pursuits:

Challenges Unleash Creative Possibilities

For those who expect perfect conditions to be in place to trigger creativity, history is full of contra-examples where hard times have sent people looking for creative escape and hope:

  • Half of the world’s population died from the plague in the 15th century, yet it also yielded incredible thinkers and artists in the Renaissance.
  • Shakespeare’s artistry emerged from a religious bloodbath in England during the 16th century.
  • The economic failure of The Great Depression was the genesis for many prominent brands which shaped business and culture.

Creative Impact: Don’t look for smooth conditions as a prerequisite for creativity; look for sandpaper to rough things up.

Push for Big Creative Possibilities

As much as anything, Bob Thacker’s presentation was a greatest hits of creative projects he’s spearheaded while in senior marketing roles at Target and OfficeMax, including:

Creative Impact: These are all really smart strategic and creative efforts. How to be comparably successful strategically and creatively? Reading between the lines, asking questions such as, “What is this like?”, “What could this be like?”, and “How can we make this more extreme?” provide an underpinning to all of these Thacker-led efforts.

Creative Thackerisms You Can Use

Bob Thacker’s presentation included a variety of creative witticisms:

  • “If you don’t have a big budget, you have to have big ideas.”
  • “Serendipity can be a strategy, if your antennae are up.”
  • “Look before you leap, but then leap!”
  • “‘It can’t be done really means, ‘It hasn’t been done YET.'”
  • “Creativity is a group practice. Ideas need to be generated in a playful, fear-free environment.”
  • “Why just run a commercial when you can own the whole show?”
  • “Don’t make ads; make news!”
  • “If you can find a holiday tradition to create, do it.”

Creative Impact: A vital part of any creative team is having the instigator and cheerleader for others to fully exploit their creativity. The key creative action can be green lighting those on the team who have the most creative ideas.

Wrap-Up

Hope this provides some sense of the creative possibilities shared during Bob Thacker’s presentation. He packed so many ideas into the hour, providing a real creative treat to those BMA attendees sticking around for such a strong conference finish.

Want one last Thackerism to consider every time you start contemplating a marketing effort?

“If you’re going to crash the party (via your marketing) you’d better bring a bottle of wine (a tremendously rich audience experience).”

Mike Brown

To unleash your own extreme creative possibilities, download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to ignite your creative perspective! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to 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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Can you find strategic marketing lessons at a transportation marketing conference applicable to a broader audience? It was definitely possible at last week’s Transportation Marketing & Sales Association conference. I was there to speak on social media for business-to-business marketers and was happy to see a lot of strategic marketing lessons directly relevant to Brainzooming topics. Here are snippets from 15 strategic marketing lessons shared at the TMSA conference:

Leadership

“If you think you’re more important than others, you’re starting in a hole.”Bill Butterworth

“Whatever you want, give it away.” Joe Calhoon

Teamwork

Teams are kept from effective working relationships through poor self-confidence, unhealthy competition, lack of communication, and an inability to change. Turning non-performing teams into strong ones depends on treating people with respect, celebrating diversity within the team, and instilling a sense of personal sacrifice for the team’s success. – Bill Butterworth

Strong Performance

There are four keys to organizational performance: Having and communicating a clear strategy, executing flawlessly, creating a strong sense of trust, and cultivating a high performance culture. – Joe Calhoon

For sales and marketing alignment: Collaboration + Cooperation = Peak Performance – Peter Ostrow

“Push for the best creative there is, fight for it, and then make somebody else dilute it. Don’t do that yourself.” – Dick Metzler

Marketing’s Role

“Marketing is about strategy, understanding, and building the business. Communication is the end of the process. Marketing communications is part of it, but marketing is about strategy.” Greg Reid

“Marketing is the manipulation of perceptions for the express purpose of creating brand preference.” – Dick Metzler

Marketing Opportunities

The best marketing strategy is to ask questions in order to really know a customer. Small players can use deep understanding to pursue real opportunities to address challenging, irregular, or unexpected situations customers face. – “TMSA Why Buyers Buy Panel”

“You have to know your customer better than anyone in the company if you’re in sales and marketing.” – Greg Reid

Public Relations

When pitching a story, customize the pitch through understanding the audience the publication is trying to reach. You can provide value to the person you’re pitching by being an expert on your topic (including your company, if that’s what you’re pitching) and providing opportunities for editors to experience the potential story, if at all possible. – “TMSA Editors Panel”

Social Media

According to the panel of editors, print isn’t dead; nothing is dead. Publications are responding to new media by trying to put content into as many channels as possible. One publication has found value in its 1,000+ member LinkedIn group providing real sources for content. With the availability of more content channels, companies can benefit themselves by cultivating more spokespeople within their companies. – “TMSA Editors Panel”

Prognostication

You can’t just sit behind your desk or your computer to understand the future of your marketplace. New ideas surface through conversations and at industry meetings before they reach publications. – “TMSA Why Buyers Buy Panel”

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur (via Peter Ostrow)

Advice for Presenters

“Speakers should have a good opening, and a good finish, and keep them as close to each other as possible.” – Joe Calhoon

 

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 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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We’ve talked about guerrilla marketing before on the Brainzooming blog. One reason? We use a strategic thinking exercise in strategy sessions to quickly expand an organization’s understanding of the hundreds of marketing assets available to communicate its strategic messages to important audiences.

It was definitely a surprise to see guerrilla marketing talked about in a recent episode of Parks and Recreation. I’d never seen the show until very recently, but now I’m completely hooked on it. And I’m not hooked on it because they talked about guerrilla marketing . . . because the treatment of it in the Parks and Recreation is really about how NOT to do it!

Enjoy the video (and the whole episode is hilarious as well) anyway, and if you want to get real understanding on guerrilla marketing, check out these links:

– 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 see how we can help you devise a successful innovation strategy for your organization.

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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During yesterday’s TMSA social media strategy presentation, we wound up talking about 4 of the 12 business-to-business social media strategy topics the audience could choose from to discuss. Interestingly, they picked one topic each in the four overall categories – strategy, social networking, infrastructure, and social business. As I’d promised them, here are links for the overview in the presentation plus  links with more detail on each of the 4 specific topics they selected:

Social Media Overview

Strategy – Measuring ROI

Social Networking – Getting Noticed

Infrastructure – Time and Talent

Social Business – Content Marketing

The group had a number of questions throughout which should provide additional blog topics in the weeks to come. – 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 see how we can help you define a strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your market opportunities.

 

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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Opening the BMA Unleash conference on Thursday, Jim Lecinski, Managing Director at Google, addressed the work Google is doing on the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) which was covered here last fall based on a Kansas City Business Marketing Association luncheon talk. Lecinski positioned ZMOT as a new marketing thought model, introducing an equally, if not more important, moment of truth which happens between an initial stimulus (an ad, billboard, article, WOM, etc. – all still important as initial stimuli) and the first interaction a potential consumer actually has with a brand. The zero moment of truth is marked by online activity through search and reaching out to social networks to address the types of questions first-time buyers have (Will it work? What else do I need to know? Is this the best choice for me?).

Lecinski provided background information to support the zero moment of truth phenomenon in B2B settings, pointing toward 1x to 3x increases in search activity in prime B2B categories while budgets and spending were flat or being reduced dramatically. More uncertainty and fewer financial resources all support the need to eliminate risk in buying decisions, spurring the move to gather more and more reliably-perceived information.

Acknowledging that ZMOT is a new concept and still evolving, Lecinski offered these 7 keys to taking better advantage of the ZMOT for a brand:

ZMOT 1. Put someone in charge of the zero moment of truth.

Identify an individual who gets the concept and is close to the customer (maybe someone in customer service already) and have them take on responsibility for how your brand is planning for and capitalizing on ZMOT.

ZMOT 2.  Find zero moments in your category.

It’s possible to use the Google autofill function to put in your brand or category and see what the suggested autofills are. These start to help you understand how people are searching for your brand or category. Important tip – make sure you’re logged off of Google before you do this so your own history isn’t skewing the results.

ZMOT 3.  Answer the questions people are asking.

After understanding where and how people are searching about you and your category in the ZMOT, make sure you’re showing up on these searches and providing the answers that people are looking for during the ZMOT. The Google keyword tool will help you understand the volume of the searches that appear. Google has made changes in it search algorithm to rank reviews (especially from within your social network) high along with adding the +1 function to indicate valuable information.

ZMOT 4. Optimize your ZMOT.

It’s important to know where the ZMOT is taking place. Lecinski stated that less than 25% of B2B websites are optimized for mobile devices, yet even for B2B buyers, mobile may very well be where the search is taking place.

ZMOT 5.  Be Fast.

Potential buyers will react to wildcard stimuli (i.e., a mention on a TV show or an online article) which can trigger the ZMOT search. Even though a brand can’t often plan for these stimuli, you have to be ready when it happens to make sure people get the answers. Additionally, Lecinski advised calls to action in offline communications to point potential buyers to where they can find the types of answers they’re looking for in the ZMOT online.

ZMOT 6. Don’t forget video.

There are lots of people talking about the increasing importance of video in buying decisions. With relatively greater ease than in the past, a brand can deliver answers to a whole variety of questions via YouTube and video placed on its own website. Encourage and incent real-life testimonials and case studies to add to the video mix as well.

ZMOT 7. Jump In.

ZMOT is a new concept and there aren’t best practices yet. The right strategies are being defined and understood on a daily basis, so it’s critical to get started and learn your way into what practices work.

Get the Zero Moment of Truth Ebook

For more information, sign up to download the Google ebook published on June 20, 2011 with greater detail on its ZMOT work:  www.zeromomentoftruth.com.

Seth Godin at Lunch

Seth Godin delivered the Thursday lunch keynot at BMA Unleash. Look for a post on his session later next week. – 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 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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One of the most famous tag lines in advertising history is Avis Rent a Car’s “We try harder.” It is basically the quintessential brand promise. Though it seems to have largely disappeared from the Avis Rent a Car marketing communications (eight references on the website, most historical in nature), for many it is still at the heart of what they think of when they think of Avis—and it is still part of the company’s mission statement.

It is a concise, easy to relate to, unambiguous statement of what you can expect from the brand. It also seems that it is kind of hard to live up to.

My son goes to school in Denver and I visit half dozen times a year. These long weekend trips are somewhat spontaneous/last minute in nature, so I nearly always drive. I’ve done the math, and for a trip of that length, renting a car costs far less than driving your own.

I usually rent from Hertz or Enterprise, but this time I found a deal on an Avis car that, while slightly more expensive than Enterprise, allowed me to (theoretically ) start on my trip 30 minutes earlier. Normally that wouldn’t make much difference, but this time I had an appointment to make in Denver and half hour would make it much easier.

I get to the rental car location a few minutes after it opened, but after another customer. There is only one person working and he hasn’t prepared any cars for this morning and people are coming in with issues from yesterday already.

Long story short, it is another 30 minutes before I am on my way. The car is bigger than I wantand, as I am to find out, much less fuel efficient— and it looks like a flock of birds have been using it for target practice, but I am finally headed west.

Monday I have two emails from Avis, one welcoming me to their preferred service and the other containing an e-invoice. When I open the invoice I find I have been charged 15% more than I had expected. Customer service says I was charged for an upgrade, a change I didn’t request and, in fact, had probably already cost me around $25 more for gas. Did it say that on the rental agreement? It might have, I didn’t read, I just initialed here and here, and signed there and took the keys. After all I had already lost my 30 minute edge. Certainly the agent had made no mention of the upcharge.

In the end, Avis gave me the original rate, but they also probably lost a potential future customer. If you are going to make a brand promise such as “We try harder,” you either must live up to it or face the fact you will likely disappoint a lot of customers.

Is your brand making promises it can’t keep? 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 us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand strategy and implementation efforts.

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Everybody wants economies of scale. They signal you’ve achieved a sufficient size so you can do things, deliver benefits, reach markets – all sorts of good things – with a disproportional level of operational and financial efficiency smaller competitors can’t match. That’s what economies of scale are all about. That’s why they’re really great.

But economies of scale can also be really detrimental and lead to bad strategy when your strategic view is flipped around. They become problematic when you start thinking about how they allow small cost reductions to be multiplied into large absolute cost savings.

When you start your analysis this way, you wind up with:

  • Orange juice which shaves several ounces off of how big a half gallon is.
  • Quick service restaurants which stop providing napkins in to-go orders.
  • A hotel with only 1 wastebasket in a very large room.

All these changes seem subtle. But they’re really annoying when you run out of orange juice, don’t have a napkin to wipe your hands, or spend 5 minutes trying to find where to throw something away.

In all those cases, scale-oriented savings make brands seem really cheap . . . and not cheap in a good way.

Coupling economies of scale with a “They’ll Never Notice” attitude leads to bad strategy.

Why?

Because when your grocery store turns out half its lights, you notice. – 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 see how we can help you devise a successful innovation strategy for your organization.

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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