Marketing | The Brainzooming Group - Part 26 – page 26
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Here’s another Blogapalooza post from one of Max Utsler’s students, D. Mark Dunn. He’s a broadcast journalist and communications professional who is current working on his MS, Journalism / Marketing Communications at the University of Kansas. Today’s he’s tackling a couple of improvement ideas for a much maligned networking and marketing tool – the business card!

 

Despite increasing communication online, many professionals still use a business card more than any other single marketing tool.  Obviously, a business card features the essentials including your name, organization and contact information.  In addition to the basics, you may see a pretty logo, fancy graphic design or colors.  Beyond that, it seems rare to come across a business card worth keeping outside the value of “easy” access to that person when needed.  Well, I guess a business card could have staying power if you’re in need of a bookmark or a fridge magnet—possibly featuring the schedule of a local sports team.  The other day though, I came across a pretty creative idea for a business card while helping my wife do some car shopping.  At least it’s something I’ve never seen done with this marketing tool.

One of the car salesmen handed us a business card, similar in look and feel to a credit card.  The front provided contact basics, but the back of the card contained discount coupons to a dozen different local businesses.  It drew my interest and led me to examine each discount offer individually.  It seems like a pretty good idea to include discount coupons, but I do think the cross-promotion strategy could use improvement.

Eight of the 12 discount coupons offered specials at restaurants or food specialty places.  The other four were for a liquor store, a family entertainment venue, a bowling alley, and a rental car company.  All of the deals appear to provide a fairly good value.  But it seems that only one of the 12 businesses effectively targets car shoppers.

The shotgun approach may relate to the wide-ranging demographics and psychographics of car shoppers.  Lob a variety of discount coupons up there and hope something sticks.  And one may also argue that restaurants are a catchall.

In this case though, I can quickly think of several other discount options that seem more attractive to someone in the market to buy a car:  A car wash (to clean up the car you’re trading in), a bank or lending institution (with special car loan rates), auto insurance company, or an auto specialty business that installs stereos, GPS devices, DVD players, etc.  In addition, car dealers, for example, could customize and more effectively match the businesses offering a discount with potential customers based on the type of car they’re selling.  It seems likely that Mercedes-Benz dealerships interact with people who are significantly different than those in the market for a used Hyundai.

I doubt my wife and I will ever take advantage of any of the discount offers or coupons on the car salesman’s business card.  But I still have his card and each business on the back did gain a quality impression.  In the end, this seems to show how the execution of a good idea is the difference between creativity and innovation. D. Mark Dunn

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 recently reviewed a client’s employee-created videos. The videos were destined for social media distribution via YouTube and other sites. There were some very effective employee videos in the mix where associates delivered personal accounts of their interests related to the client’s products. The successful employee videos were genuine and unscripted, and while the client’s product was clearly a part of each video, the product was way in the background.

Challenges with Employee-Created Videos

Beyond the relatively small number of effective employee videos, the majority were poorly executed. Why were these other employee videos off the mark? In nearly every case, it was because what was portrayed as an employee-generated, personal video veered off into trying to be a commercial (with extensive product references and information) or worse, a character-oriented video (with the self-identified employee taking on the role of a character in a fictional setting).

As we pointed out to our client, it’s bad form to foster social media audience confusion by making them think they’ll be watching personal video accounts from employees when the videos are no such thing. What makes it even worse, however, is commercial and character videos prompt higher viewer expectations for better production and talent standards than our client’s employee videos delivered. As a result, the videos not only seemed disingenuous, they also emphasized production shortfalls (bad lighting, uneven sound, etc.) even more than if they solely focused on an employee telling a personal story in a simple fashion.

An Employee-Created Video that Works

Contrast our client’s situation with this video from the Kansas City Missouri Public Library shared on Facebook earlier this week. It’s produced by Jason Harper, who handles social media for the library. Rather than screaming, “Employee video,” this character-oriented video unfolds with subtle humor, scripting and costumes true to its Hemingway theme, and just enough production value to effectively convey its ultimate message: there’s an easy-to-use app that allows you to extend the period for books patrons have checked out from the Kansas City Missouri Public Library.

Jason is never identified as an employee because his employment status has no bearing on the video. As a result, an insignificant point of information doesn’t serve to confuse a cleverly-conceived and produced character video.

Because this video is true to viewer expectations of a character-oriented video’s intent, tone, production value, and talent level, we think it it really works! We should all be using employee-created videos as effectively as this one! And if you are using employee-created videos effectively, care to share the links in the comments section? – 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 have not started already, it is a great time to ask yourself and your organization innovative strategic planning questions to identify your best opportunities and prepare for implementation next year. Maybe it is because the new year is approaching quickly that conference presenters the past week prompted twenty innovative strategic planning questions – either directly or by me turning a statement into a creative question to answer.

Photo by; MMchen | Source: photocase.com

Presenters offering these strategic planning questions included Fast Company co-founder, Bill Taylor at the FastKC luncheon and several presenters at the marcus evans B2B Summit in Colorado Springs, including authors Mitch Joel, Joe Pulizzi, and business leaders Atul Vohra (Solera Holdings, Inc.), Michael P. Guillory (Texas Instruments), and Curt Porritt (Master Control Inc.) I spoke on Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation at the marcus evans B2B Summit.

As you get ready for implementation next year, make sure you are considering these innovative strategic planning questions to boost next year’s results!

Strategy & Purpose Questions

  • In this age of disruption for businesses and markets, what do we stand for and strongly advocate as an organization that makes us special? (Bill Taylor)
  • Are we asking enough “why” questions, since they tie to our business plan? If we are not asking enough of them, why is that? (Mitch Joel)
  • What are we the “most of” in our field? (Bill Taylor)
  • Don’t ask, “What keeps us up at night?” Ask, “What gets us up in the morning?” (Bill Taylor)

Strategic Marketing Questions

  • What are we doing to reboot our marketing for the new realities of customers buying in dramatically different ways? (Mitch Joel)
  • What are our plans to introduce more sense-based cues into our product or service? (Bill Taylor – Umpqua Bank features local music in its branch offices)
  • How are we going to start our own media channels (by creating content) instead of renting them (through buying advertising)? (Joe Pulizzi)
  • Once we’ve created content, what are 10 ways we can re-imagine and package it in new ways? (Joe Pulizzi)
  • Are we putting lead forms and next steps options into all of the content our organization creates and shares? (Joe Pulizzi)
  • What metrics and strategic thinking exercises are we using to stay away from “marketing by what happened last” (i.e., you just had a good trade show so there’s a push to do more of those)? (Curtis Porritt)

Customer and Market Questions

  • What are we trying to do for our customers? (Atul Vohra)
  • When it comes to customers, how is our organization shifting from a “how many” to “who” focus? (Mitch Joel)
  • How will the growing BRIC and BOP markets fit in our market plans the next 3 years? (Atul Vohra)
  • If someone doesn’t interpret what we wrote as expected, what’s to say they’re wrong? What can we learn from the misinterpretation? (Interactive Session comment)

Learning Organization Questions

Marketing Metrics Questions

  • How many meaningless numbers are part of our marketing metrics? (Michael Guillory)
  • How many people are searching for our brand name or URL – spelled correctly? (Curtis Porritt)
  • If we’re using in-person events in our marketing plans, who were the new people and companies we met this year, and how are we turning them into customers? (Michael Guillory)

Number 20 – My New Favorite Strategic Planning Question

  • To identify potential value for a client in a B2B market, ask clients, “What do you never want to do again?” Then provide the means for them to never have to do what they don’t want to do again. (Unnamed B2B Summit participant)

Are You Ready for What’s Ahead?

If you’d like assistance in getting your annual planning for next year done faster than ever, call us at 816-509-5320 or email info@brainzooming.com. Our Brainzooming name means what it says: we’ll stretch your brains to consider new opportunities and quickly zoom them into a plan that’s ready for next year when next year starts! We’d love to help you hit next year zooming!   – 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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I was struggling this weekend to write a Halloween-oriented post linked to an architecture firm’s credo spotted during a trip to Columbus, OH last week. While a fantastic early thought about the phrase lent itself to a Halloween post (as I try to be more seasonal on the Brainzooming blog), I only had ONE other fantastic example instead of the five needed to do a whole post.

Trying to figure out what I could get written for Halloween, it struck me to run this Blogapalooza post from Sean Roark. When I first quickly scanned it after Max Utsler forwarded it to me, I wasn’t getting the whole Conan O’Brien pmpadour thing. But after re-reading the post, it was completely obvious that orange is my “relevant ridiculousness,”  as Sean describes it. Orange (and not just the color, but the orange socks, orange clothing, orange backpacks, orange office supplies, and yes, even our orange kitchen) not only suggest excitement and creativity, the ridiculousness of that much orange always provides an opening for somebody to ask, “Why the hell do you wear orange socks?”

Sean is a working marketing professional, graduate student at the University of Kansas, and a “Brand Master of the Universe.” To find out more about Sean’s title and how you can identify your relevant ridiculousness, dive in and enjoy:

Finding Your Conan O’Brien Pompadour

Pretty much everyone is certified in something. Some are certified in CPR. Others — certified notaries. Diplomas and GEDs are certifications. Few, however, are certified Brand Masters of the Universe.

I am.

Granted, it’s a relatively new certification, and as far as I know, it’s only offered once a year at the KU Edwards Campus. But hey, I did my time, I paid for it, and I can’t wait to put it on my business cards.

My brand sensei — Pasquale Trozzolo, trained me in the art of brand warfare. A notable chapter in our brand Shinto was to identify and exploit the relevant difference — the one main attribute that relevantly sets a product or service apart from its competition. Simple, seemingly obvious, but rarely mastered. After considerable practice and branditation, I have fully embraced the importance, and harnessed the chi of relevant difference. But like Plato to Socrates before me, I have developed a new philosophy citing certain instances that challenge the law of relevant difference. I call it the Art of Irrelevant Relevance AKA Relevant Ridiculousness AKA Finding your Pompadour.

What’s Conan Have that I Don’t Have?

Photo appears at: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v70/rushmoregirl/pumpkin07.jpg

Everyone knows Conan O’Brien. Well almost everyone – 74% of you according to a Marketing Evolutions study. What is it about Conan that makes him so memorable? Well it’s pretty safe to say that those 74% didn’t watch him on the Tonight Show on a regular basis or Jay Leno never would have gotten his job back. Here’s a hint. It’s red, it’s retro and it’s ridiculous. Yes, what makes Conan O’Brien so recognizable is that preposterous pompadour. The pompadour has no relevance to Conan’s comedy. If it did, his monologues would consist mainly of Abe Lincoln jabs. The relevance of the pompadour is its ridiculousness – ridiculousness that has stopped countless channel surfers dead in their tracks just to see what that giant red head with the weird haircut is all about.

A few years back VH1 aired The Pickup Artist. A collection of virgin nerds turned to an ex-nerd turned illusionist, philosopher and master pickup artist named Mystery to help them land beautiful women. Mystery had studied the courting habits of thousands of bar goers throughout his early 20s and developed the Mystery Method. A key component to Mystery’s opening was peacocking. Peacocking is donning an interesting (most often ridiculous) article of clothing or an accessory that gives women easy bait to start a conversation if they are interested. Peacocking sets pickup artists apart from the rest of the bar and (just like the pompadour) provides the relevant ridiculousness that is so useful in getting noticed.

So how does this have anything to do with marketing? Well by now, most of our products and services are contending in highly competitive industries with relevant differences that aren’t that different. In other words, our products and services are stuck in a loud, crowded nightclub filled with younger, more attractive products and services that only stop lifting weights to shave their chests and apply more cologne. How will our average looking products and services ever get the chance to speak to those hottie consumers? The answer is to whip out that hair gel, pile up a pompadour and get noticed.

The Relevant Ridiculousness that’s Right for You

Finding the relevant ridiculousness that’s right for you is going to take some good old-fashioned creativity — and most importantly, originality. First, pompadours are best suited for highly competitive industries. They’re clutter breakers so if there isn’t substantial clutter, your brand is just going to look weird. Irrelevant relevance is only relevant if it hasn’t been done before. Riding the coattails of someone else’s ridiculousness is only going to leave your image battered, your brand bruised and your career prospects left in the dust. Finally, keep your pompadour light-hearted and playful. There’s a fine line that separates creative and creepy – get close, but don’t cross it.

Great brand pompadours of the past include Ubu Productions — which paved the path for production company awareness nearly 30 years ago. Old Spice found its pompadour and, in turn, its way out of grandpa’s medicine cabinet. And don’t forget about the now defunct BK King who brought the Whopper back to the consideration set of drunks and burnouts nationwide.

So if your brand has become a wallflower in the crowded discotheque of commerce, take it from Conan O’Brien, Mystery and myself. Puff up that pompadour, spread those feathers, get a little ridiculous and give your brand some irrelevant relevance to separate it from the rest of the pack.  – Sean Roark

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 are in Kansas City and not attending Social Media Club of Kansas City (SMCKC) breakfasts, you’re missing outstanding social media-related speakers and content monthly. The September presentation from Scott Monty at Union Station was fantastic, and October’s Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast (back at the Kansas City Cafe) was equally strong, featuring Mike McCamon, Chief Community Officer from Water.org.

I’ve been struck by the organization’s compelling online strategy since meeting Erin Swanson from Water.org at one of the first breakfasts I attended. Talking informally with Erin several times in the last few years, it’s been clear water.org is all over inventive social media strategy.

Social Media Automation

At last Friday’s SMCKC breakfast, Mike McCamon provided a “Social Media 700-level” course on how Water.org uses social media automation, under the banner “Donate Your Voice,” so Water.org Twitter and Facebook fans can share their social network feeds with the organization. Beyond “one-to-many,” Mike characterizes the strategy as enabling “none- to-many,” since fans don’t have to do anything once authorizing Water.org to use their social media broadcasting capabilities.

This video from the presentation features the strategic thinking behind Donate Your Voice and the social media automation strategy. I told Mike afterward that being a strategy guy, he had me right away by starting with not one, but two X-Y charts.

How Extendable is Donate Your Voice?

Does Donate Your Voice have a fit beyond non-profits? Mike discussed Water.org considering sharing the technology with non-competitive non-profits and licensing it to for-profits in exchange for a financial commitment to Water.org. Even if it does (or others develop similar capabilities), the Donate Your Voice concept will likely need an option for more user intervention.

When you care about what you share in your social network channels, I can’t imagine surrendering my “voice” to any organization without an option to say yes or no on a particular message.

Would you want that type of message-specific approval, or are you okay with donating your online voice unchecked?

I’ll be covering Donate Your Voice in greater depth for the December issue of The Social Media Monthly magazine. I’ve been writing monthly articles since the magazine’s introduction earlier this year. If you’re in a Barnes and Noble in the next few days, you still have an opportunity to pick up the October issue of The Social Media Monthly where I wrote a cover story on the Google+ vs. Facebook battle.  – Mike Brown

 

If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

 

 

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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It has now been about 2 years since I left corporate life to make The Brainzooming Group a full-time effort. Last year on this date, I shared 25 lessons learned and reconfirmed during the first year of The Brainzooming Group. Here are 25 more lessons from year two away from corporate life, although it’s hard to say some of them didn’t originate in year one!

  • Peoples’ priorities, especially in corporations, change quickly. Things can go from hypercritical to off the list in what seems like minutes. Inside the corporation, you may not even notice. As a vendor, it can be crushing.
  • A lot of corporate life was filled with meetings. The absence of so many needless meetings creates a lot of time in your day.
  • Keep experimenting with pricing and other parts of the marketing mix ALL the time.
  • Taking a “friends and family” approach to business development is a good start, but it is hardly sufficient.
  • Get out of the office and see people.
  • I’d underestimated the business potential of Facebook. Now, I’m playing catch-up.
  • Go for unique, higher-risk opportunities than predictable, lower-risk opportunities that promise they’ll get better.
  • R.E.M. did things in their own way, at their own pace, in their own style. That’s a pretty solid long-term business strategy.
  • I’m not sure if absence makes the heart grow fonder, but 24/7 togetherness doesn’t.
  • If you’re willing to surrender your will to God, he’ll put you in the places you need to be.
  • When you’re in a big corporation, the last thing you may want is dealing with more people. When you’re an entrepreneur, that changes.
  • Frugality, frugality, frugality.
  • A one-tier cost structure is a recipe for failure at worst or stagnation at best.
  • At some point, you have to stop thinking you’re average at everything you do while still maintaining a strong sense of overall humility.
  • There were things I could afford to stay out of or not do in the corporate world that I can’t afford to avoid anymore.
  • You can’t over-estimate the impact of being able to stay calm during challenging times.
  • As difficult as it might be, you have to let go of previously strong professional relationships that turn non-reciprocal. Really cultivate the ones that do remain vibrant, though.
  • Go out of your way to meet new people you would never have expected to meet. Go out of your way to re-meet people who pass through after long absences. You never know how your life will be changed by it.
  • Don’t wait for someone to join you. Go ahead and try it yourself.
  • As important as a tight team is, go to unfamiliar people for reactions, because you’ll get a much more accurate perspective.
  • It’s okay to take the risk that something you walk away from will hit really big for someone else. You can’t pursue everything.
  • Life is really incredible if you allow it to be incredible. Many times “incredible” materializes because you haven’t directly intervened in mucking up the ordinary.
  • It’s easy to slide backward – really easy. If you’re going to slide backward, do it consciously, not accidentally.
  • You need a business model, not just an idea. A business model can sustain you for an extended period of time. Ideas have to be continually replenished. Continually replenishing ideas for an extended period of time can drain you beyond recovery.
  • Wait for it.

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 info@brainzooming.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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The Brainzooming Group helped shape an intriguing project featuring two graduate level marketing communications classes at the University of Kansas. Students in Max Utsler’s “Innovations in Marketing Communications” class and Barrett Sydnor’s “Integrated Marketing Communications and Sales Strategy” class are writing blog posts during the semester on topics related to the classes, including branding, marketing, social media, experience marketing, and innovation.

Working with a number of Brainzooming friends who publish popular blogs in these areas, we’ll be running a number of blogs from students in these two classes. Max Utsler dubbed the project “Blogapalooza,” and today, we’re publishing the first guest Blogapalozza post on Brainzooming.

Today’s author, Patrick Kerr, lives and works in the Kansas City area. His interests include good food, fishing, and finding new hobbies to take his mind off the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals. Today he takes up the question of the impact Groupon has on customer service – both for the provider and the customer:

 

My wife and I recently spent our wedding anniversary at an upscale restaurant hailed by critics for its outstanding food and ambience. The owner of the establishment is a highly accomplished chef who enjoys a stellar reputation in local and national culinary circles. He is one of a few true culinary celebrities who live in our area and has won numerous accolades for his cooking skills. As self-proclaimed “foodies,” we couldn’t wait to celebrate the occasion over a gourmet meal and fine wine. Even better, my wife purchased a Groupon for the restaurant so we felt like we could splurge without feeling too guilty.

The day of our reservation, I checked out the restaurant’s ratings on Yelp and was surprised to find so many negative reviews. The reviews spanned from mildly critical to downright nasty. Not exactly what you’d expect from a four-star restaurant. Of the bad write-ups, there were two common denominators: poor service and Groupon. Prior to the Groupon introduction, the marks were consistently positive if not gushing with praise. It was only in retrospect that I made the connection.

So how did our dining experience turn out? The food lived up to its excellent reputation, but the only way to get our server’s attention was to flail my arms about like some over-eager 2nd grader dying to be called on by the teacher. If anything, service at a four-star restaurant should border on hovering. This felt more as if we were being quarantined for some highly contagious virus. I’ve had better service at Waffle House. At least they refill your drinks once in a while. We couldn’t help but think that our early admission of using the Groupon had an overall negative impact on service. It turns out we were in good company. Apparently, Groupon and poor customer service go hand-in-hand.

Customer Service Rating of Groupon Users

Additional research revealed a direct link between the use of Groupon and a negative service experience. The above graph is from a study conducted by Cornell researchers who studied over 16,000 Groupon Deals in 20 US cities between January and July this year. The study found, among other things, that Groupon users averaged a 10% lower rating than those who didn’t use Groupon.

So why does Groupon promote bad customer service? From the merchant’s perspective, Groupon often means more trouble than it’s worth. The servers I’ve spoken with all complain that users frequently tip on the discounted amount, and not on the actual amount of the food. For expensive restaurants like the one we went to, that could mean the difference of $100 – $200.  In fact, our receipt clearly read what the amount would have been prior to the discount. Obviously, that is a sore point that needs addressed.

If Groupon wants to establish a loyal following, they need to make it clear to partners that they must uphold a certain standard of service and refuse to do business with those restaurants that won’t commit to those terms. Perhaps establish a “code of excellence” that becomes synonymous with their brand.  Groupon’s reputation and the reputation of the restaurants they do business with depend on it.

Have you had a negative Groupon experience? If so, please share it in the comments below. -Patrick Kerr 

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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