1

Last Friday, July 9 was “Cow Appreciation Day” at Chick-fil-A. Customers dressing up as the company’s signature cow icon were rewarded with free meals (for a head-to-toe cow costume) and sandwiches (for any part of a cow costume). While there was a microsite set up for the day to allow customers to find locations and a Facebook page to upload photos, the interactive brand strategy was clearly geared toward a real life visit to a nearby Chick-fil-A restaurant.

We headed out for dinner on Cow Appreciation day and saw many customers more than happy to turn themselves into Chick-fil-A brand icons for a reward valued at less than $5.

What a brilliant interactive brand strategy to get your customers to jump through a pretty easy “brand” hoop in exchange for what a restaurant might give away on a typical “buy one get one free” coupon requiring no customer brand interaction other than showing up at the restaurant.

In this case, turning couponing into an interactive brand strategy delivering a memorable brand experience creates all kinds of residual brand value in stories, pictures, videos, and likely, increased people per ticket as we witnessed large groups routinely entering the restaurant we visited.

And what about my Cow Appreciation Day participation? We’ll I love free Chick-fil-A as much or more than the next person. I put on my Ben & Jerry cow socks and a cow beanie and collected my free sandwich as well!  - Mike Brown

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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4

The Brainzooming™ Group was meeting with the relatively new CEO of a client recently to analyze the company’s marketing strategy. Discussing an area where our client has used one strategy and its primary competitor has taken completely the opposite strategy, the CEO said he’s skeptical of any business value his company thinks it’s getting from the effort.

The reason? Because the competitor ISN’T being forced to follow his brand.

He expressed his desire to control a competitor’s marketing strategy and budget by beating them to great innovative opportunities it feels compelled to follow.

That’s not necessarily a common angle on marketing strategy, but it’s an intriguing strategic perspective nonetheless. While flying in the face of owning and differentiating your brand based on what you do that competitors don’t, it does align with one advantage of being a first mover.

It’s also made me rethink a situation where my former company got into NASCAR when no one else in our industry had. Once we demonstrated the success of the strategy (and won an industry award for the NASCAR program’s ROI), every major competitor jumped into racing within 2 years. While it angered me then, looking back in this new light, it was great to force our major competitors to make significant business investments because of the effects they felt from our strategy.

Which leads to the question – what have you forced your competitors to do lately?Mike Brown

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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5

If you’ve been a Brainzooming reader for any length of time, you’ve seen discussion about Jay Conrad Levinson’s guerrilla marketing strategies. We frequently adapt his standard guerrilla marketing approach to help businesses customize their marketing implementation toolkits. This allows them to take best advantage of low incremental cost resources available to them.

Relative to social media strategy, we’ve modified and narrowed the approach so organizations can more effectively explore resources for dramatically strengthening social media implementations. Creatively mining these ten areas will allow an organization to identify additional ways to activate its social media presence:

  • Address topics your target audience members find motivating
  • Share ways to help audience members be more successful
  • Emphasize basic message points and themes you use elsewhere
  • Contact the people already producing other content in your business
  • Enlist anyone doing informal social media efforts within your organization to help
  • Adapt material from currently existing communications pieces
  • Be visible where audience members are receiving your current messages
  • Piggyback on interactions you already have with targeted audience members
  • Invite natural influencers of the target audience to participate
  • Reach out to other organizations who’d want to partner in targeting your audience

If you haven’t tried these ideas, give them a shot and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the positive impact they’ll have on your social media strategy.  – 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 can develop an integrated social media strategy for your brand.

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

Want to take part in an incredible, absolutely FREE learning opportunity on marketing, research, and the future?

Then join us Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 9 a.m. CDT for the second virtual event from the American Marketing Association, “Unveiling Marketing Research’s Future Online.”

The initial AMA virtual event earlier this year featured outstanding content, time to learn about an incredible array of marketing services companies, and opportunities to network with both speakers and thousands of other marketing professionals.

Without leaving your office!

All for F – R – E – E!

That’s why the first event earned rave reviews, and Wednesday’s event will be sure to receive the same! While the connecting theme for the event is market research, the learning opportunities extend to other marketing and strategy disciplines as well. The speakers include both top-rated speakers from the 2009 AMA Marketing Research Conference I chaired and new presenters as well.

The incredible speaking lineup includes:

To reserve your spot right now, register at the AMA website. While you don’t have to be an AMA member to participate in the virtual event, AMA members will have even more special networking opportunities available to them.

And while you’re on the AMA website, check out the schedule and speakers for the in-person AMA Marketing Research Conference “Unfiltered Perspectives. Unexpected Opportunities.” This incredible event will take place September 26-29, 2010 in Atlanta.

Be there Wednesday, June 23 and track all the activity for both the virtual and in-person events on Twitter by following @amamrc and by monitoring and tweeting with the #amamrc hashtag. – Mike Brown

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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5

I’m excited to see “Trust Agents” co-author Chris Brogan present in person for the second time this year at the BMA Engage conference tomorrow. Having seen him earlier at the Kansas City IABC Business Communications Summit in February, his innovative presentation style is one unlike I’ve never seen, and I really can’t imagine anyone else pulling it off successfully.

Speaking from what seemed to be a handwritten “set list” on a folded up piece of paper, Brogan spent an hour sharing his strategic perspective on how people behave, interact, and expect to be treated. Quite frankly, he struck me like the smart, quiet guy you see in a corporation who observes everything, sees the strategy gaps the big business so obviously misses, and figures out all the answers while hardly ever getting the chance to share them.

Through a patient strategy of freely sharing insights and perspectives from his innovative viewpoint, Brogan has created the opportunity to share his strategic wisdom in increasingly rarified venues. For all the “GET MASSIVE FOLLOWERS, BE A SOCIAL MEDIA ROCK STAR QUICK ” scams floating around the web, Chris Brogan has transferred a consistently, strategically constructed online platform to an IRL business where he routinely gets the chance to share his much sought-after answers.

Among the great strategic insights at his Kansas City presentation about better cultivating and growing customers with the help of social media:

  • A company can best help its people understand what it means to represent the brand by providing some level of media relations training to every employee.
  • The best social media people come from customer service. They’re used to talking with customers and representing the business across many situations.
  • The first steps in social media strategy should focus on prepping for crisis communication, marketing at the time of need, better addressing customer service, and conducting research on customer needs.
  • Don’t spend so much time on yourself. Brogan tries to communicate 12 times more about others than about his own stuff (a remarkable strategy considering some of the authors who pound relentless tweets and Facebook updates all about themselves).
  • A brand lives or dies by its database and how the company cultivates it between the times it is marketing to people.

His most important statement? The importance to Brogan of keeping people who matter to you when you don’t need anything at all from them. It’s an important life lesson, irrespective of whether you use social media or not.  – 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 can develop an integrated social media strategy for your brand.

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

Last week, I attended a Kansas City Media Mix luncheon featuring Scott Jones, the CEO of ChaCha. ChaCha is a free, text-based question answering application; simply text a question to 242242, and you’ll receive an “answer” to your question, along with some type of targeted ad integrated into the text-based response.

Jones shared that the predominant audience for ChaCha is 17 to 23 years of age, reflecting the intense texting activity in this age segment. He cited a recent study showing 68% of teens identified texting as their preferred communication channel. In fact, based on the age distribution chart Jones showed, I might be the oldest known ChaCha user as it has become my trial application for a couple of weeks.

After asking several questions of ChaCha, you get a four-question text-based survey to understand your age, location, gender, and phone configuration. This set of questions allows ChaCha to start profiling you, and along with your question history, provide targeted advertising opportunities. This is where it appears ChaCha is generating its revenue, since competitor KGB charges 99 cents per question. Interestingly, Jones reported that ChaCha had a large spike in usage about 5 minutes after the Super Bowl ad KGB ran. He attributed this to people trying KGB while teens in the room suggested using the free ChaCha service.

Texting is obviously an area of interest for marketers, especially those trying to reach a young audience. Of 280 million mobile phone subscribers, 233 million have text capabilities, and 70% of marketers are currently using or plan to use mobile within marketing campaigns.

It’s a long holiday weekend, so if a question comes up and you’re stumped, text a question to ChaCha and see what you get. The answers I’ve received so far have been in the ballpark, but often miss the mark relative to the desired level of detail. But, hey, it’s free.

And just in case ChaCha doesn’t know when Brainzooming will publish a new post again, it will be Tuesday. See you then! – Mike Brown

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

A recent post highlighted strategies for creating an informal social media team within your organization to help carry out social media strategy.

Debra Feldman was nice enough to tweet a link but gave it the frown emoticon for not being applicable to solopreneurs. I promised to create a comparable list for individuals in business for themselves. Hopefully, these twenty strategies, based on experience with Brainzooming, will help those building their small businesses (or personal brands) more effectively manage social media.

Managing Your Presence

  • Select several social media platforms supporting your business strategy and objectives; concentrate your presence on these alone. You might have one location for content (i.e., a blog or micro-blog), a second for networking (maybe Twitter or LinkedIn), and a third for community interaction (Facebook or LinkedIn).
  • Divide social media time into 3 roughly equal parts – reading and monitoring social media in your topic area, commenting and participating on other peoples’ sites, and creating content for your own site. From this framework, decide how much time weekly you can invest on social media. Really work to stick to your time expectations.
  • Before blogging, determine how many times monthly you expect to blog. Pre-write that many posts to see if the frequency is viable and to build a month-long content cushion for when time is limited.
  • Choose creating and consistently delivering less content over wild swings in activity. Faithfully writing one blog post weekly and three tweets daily is better than three posts your first week with lots of Twitter activity then going silent for weeks.

Generating Content

  • Exploit your best communications talents aggressively in your social media effort. These might include article writing, headline writing, shooting video, illustrations, photos, etc.  Design a content strategy allowing you to use these talents to be as efficient in creating content as possible.
  • Write down at least two potential blog topic ideas daily where they’ll be available later as idea starters.
  • Cut your writing time and keep it short. You don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) write thousand word blog posts. Stick to one idea in a couple of hundred words.
  • Save tweets and comments you make on other blogs to use as the basis for blog posts.
  • Solicit material from your audience, providing a brief description of what type of content, topics, and format you’re seeking.
  • At a minimum, set up Google Alerts on relevant topics to create readily available content for sharing online.
  • Find an intern from a local university to assist your business in its social media strategy.

Promoting Your Presence

  • Use common hashtags and keywords to increase visibility and pass along mentions.
  • Place social media buttons on your blog to make it easy for readers to share your content within their own social networks.
  • Sync your various social media sites so one item feeds multiple platforms (i.e., send your tweet about a blog post to LinkedIn and Facebook automatically).
  • Offer simple, fun give-aways to your audience to incent participation in commenting, retweeting, social bookmarking, etc.
  • Take time to write a brief bio and company overview for use on every social media site. Use a service such as KnowEm.com to secure your identity on many platforms, with links back to your main sites.
  • Create an informal network of friends (onine and IRL) with relevant networks and agree to tweet about each others’ work.

Continuous Improvement

  • Attend in-person or webinar training on effectively and efficiently using social media applications to build business.
  • Identify someone within your network who is more knowledgeable or efficient at social media than you. After figuring out how to use your best talents to help them, offer to trade for regular help (i.e., tips) on your social media effort.
  • Do at least an informal ROI assessment – is your social media effort generating the type and volume of business results that make your time investment worthwhile?

There are certainly many other ideas and technical approaches you can use to be more efficient in your social media implementation. What things have you tried that are working for you?  – 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 can develop an integrated social media strategy for your brand.

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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