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What does an increasingly connected, socially networked, world mean for brands wanting to take strategic advantage of the opportunities it presents?

That was the topic for Matt Anthony, CEO of Kansas City-based digital marketing agency VML in his keynote presentation at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Innovation Conference.

Supporting the assertion about the world being tremendously connected (especially via social networking), Matt offered several metrics:

  • Of the 6.8 billion people on Earth, 1.8 billion go online via PC, including 75% of North Americans.
  • There are 4 billion mobile phones globally and 6 billion wireless subscriptions.
  • 75% of the world visits a blog or social network when online, with social media accounting for 22% of total online time.
  • The average person in the US spends 16 hours online weekly vs. 11 hours watching TV.

 

When a majority of people are connected to both content and to each other (and each other’s networks and content), what strategies will winning brands be pursuing?

According to Matt, they’ll be:

  • Mobile – Winning brands understand the need to translate their web brand strategy specifically for mobile with everything it means for where, when, how, and why people are using mobile devices. Additionally, it will increasingly be about innovatively opening a brand’s experience to enhancements and developments from outside the brand – imagine an app store for your kitchen appliance, your car, your pet, etc.
  • Social – Winning brands will compellingly integrate personalization and customization into their online experiences. Beyond simple interaction, brands should be offering ways for audiences to attach their personal interests to experiences allowing them to create innovative impacts through their interactions with other audience members.
  • Relevant - In one of the most intriguing statements Matt made, he discussed how millennials are looking for both deep relationships and instant gratification – simultaneously. That’s something for brands to ponder – how do you find a “real” strategic intersection of these two desires? Matt suggested brands who find it will provide experiences which are less brand-referential and dramatically more about injecting legitimate value into experiences.

 

  • Transparent – The big phrase within social media and branding – transparency. Everybody says it; what does it really mean? Matt’s perspective is brands need to be true inside before trying to be true outside. With the technological tools now available to individuals to essentially broadcast (at least to their first line networks), they’ve been unleashed to hold brands to a strategic standard of, “Good for me. Good for you. Good for the planet.”

Matt wrapped by identifying mobile plus social media as the killer app. That prediction makes sense. With mobile not just broadly accessible, but actually surpassing the impact of PCs and TV in the near future, real life and online communication will intersect at every waking moment, and even the sleeping ones (as a sleep apnea app is already out there for the iPhone). If that potential for the rapid spread of any customer’s indignation isn’t enough to push brands toward transparency, it’s not hard to see them living on borrowed time in a comprehensively connected world. - 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 brand strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your customers.

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

A tenacious competitor can seem as daunting as a summer heat wave which won’t break for anything. If that describes your competitive strategy position, it can be difficult to devise an innovative strategy to win new business from a tough competitor.

Competitor Strategy to Lead to Business SuccessThere is a creative way to swat back a competitor, however, which takes its inspiration from another summer reality: mosquitoes. Just as a mosquito, despite its small size, can be a nuisance, you can do the same to a larger competitor!

Start with the profile you have on your competitor which should describe the competitor and its strengths, strategic focus areas, and overall direction. Add to the competitor profile your antagonist’s “dirty little secrets,” i.e. the problems it doesn’t want customers to know about, but are familiar to you within the industry.

Based on the specific intelligence in the competitor profile, start thinking creatively and strategically about how you can bite away at your competitor, generating ideas to really be a nuisance. Don’t worry about practicality; write down anything that comes to mind, no matter how outlandish, which could:

  • Exploit your competitor’s weaknesses and take business
  • Distract the attention of your competitor from its current strategy
  • Be an outrageous or funny claim you could make about the competitor
  • Annoy your competitor in innovative and maddening ways

You can do this exercise by yourself, but as you might have guessed, it’s a lot more fun and yields many more innovative ideas when you do it with a diverse team inside your company. Be sure to include salespeople because they have to directly deal with the competitor every day; that leads to great innovative ideas for winning new business.

After you’re done generating ideas, step back and evaluate how you can pursue the most strategically innovative ideas. Don’t dismiss really outlandish ideas outright. If there’s one idea that spurred laughter or excitement, even if you think it’s a crazy idea, ask how the idea could be made more strategically feasible.

Besides stretching your thinking, this strategy exercise to identify how to be a nuisance to your competitor should generate innovative, implementable strategies to help you compete more successfully and win new business. It should also create a greater sense of competitive surprise, biting the competitor before it even knows it – just like those pesky mosquitoes! – 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 develop a stronger competitor profile and create business building strategies to target big competitors more successfully.

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 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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