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The April 2015 Fast Company features its list of the biggest business comeback stories during the twenty years the magazine has been publishing.

Each business comeback story is presented individually (expect for Apple, which they say is number one, but never bother to list or write a full profile about the company). I was curious about what successful business strategy moves Fast Company highlighted across the twenty corporations.

To paraphrase the old saying, “curiosity killed the hour” it took to go through the list and uncover the answer to my question.

What’s Behind a Business Comeback?

Traffic-Circle

Based on this very loose analysis, the top five most frequent successful business strategy moves for these business comeback stories are:

  1. New Products: 14 (of 20 comebacks)
  2. New Leaders: 10
  3. Enhanced Brand Experience: 9
  4. New Business Lines: 6
  5. (Tie) Enhanced Advertising/Marketing and Bankruptcy: 5 each

New product growth and turnaround leaders were the most cited factors while only four profiles mentioned major cost cutting efforts, and three highlighted downsizing. Given the magazine’s focus, this list is not a big surprise.

Under different circumstances, it would be intriguing to big deeper into the list and look for more patterns. Since the list is subjective, the very brief profiles are nowhere near comprehensive, and there is a lot of my interpretation in this, however, it is not worth any more time killing.

If you would like to review the analysis with my notes on the comeback proof points Fast Company offers and my “short story” on each comeback, click the image below and go to the PDF.

FC-Comebacks

What are your takeaways from this list of business comebacks? And are there other ones from the past twenty years you would add to the list? – Mike Brown

 

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Looking for stronger new product innovations to drive your business comeback?

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness comebacks often tie to introducing new products that more strongly resonate with customers.

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  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
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Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!

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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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With more messages coming at audiences through more channels, solid branding strategy has to focus on “cutting through the clutter.”

For those unfamiliar with this phrase, cutting through the clutter means getting attention for your messages relative to all the other messages “cluttering” you target audience’s attention.

Last week, Sprint tried cutting through the clutter with me (although they had already done it in an odd and annoying way with the Narwhals ad and the previous Framily ads).

The most recent attempt to cut through the clutter came via a FedEx envelope arriving in the late afternoon. It contained a letter from the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Sprint and a flier comparing Sprint to T-Mobile on price and performance. The letter set the stage, acknowledging consumers make mobile provider decisions based on rates and network quality. The brochure put Sprint up against T-Mobile, making the case for why we should switch from T-Mobile.

Sprint-vs-TMobile

As a nearly twenty-year customer of a Sprint competitor, going the extra step to attempt cutting through the clutter by reaching me in a surprising format for the product category makes sense.

Here’s the thing, however.

I’m a Verizon customer. I’ve never used T-Mobile.

Doh!

Cutting through the Clutter Isn’t Everything in the Branding Strategy

Sprint cut through the clutter, got my attention, and then completely screwed up the message by demonstrating it had no clue about me. I immediately transferred the lack of knowledge Sprint has of me as a prospect to how little they would know or care about me as a customer!

After posting this picture on Facebook, I learned a high school classmate who IS A SPRINT CUSTOMER received the very same FedEx letter. Sending a competitor comparison to a current customer takes even more of the cake than sending one to the wrong competitor’s customer.

The lesson?

This seems like an example of incompletely answering our favorite strategic thinking question, “What are we trying to achieve?”

Cutting through the clutter of mobile provider marketing messages is ONE THING Sprint is trying to achieve. Mission accomplished.

But that wasn’t the COMPLETE answer.

Sprint is trying to win business from T-Mobile customers, obviously. If that’s the case, basic strategic thinking should have led the folks behind the campaign to invest the time and effort to:

  1. Get good data to understand who the T-Mobile customers are, and
  2. Devise a messaging strategy that would still make sense if the data were bad.

Great marketing is great from the initial idea all the way through to implementation and follow up.

Bad marketing generally goes south right from the start, especially when no one is asking the right questions AND demanding the right answers that steer it toward greatness. –  Mike Brown

 

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If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


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 published a tremendous amount of free content since the Brainzooming blog launched in 2007. As we adapt and expand our own content marketing strategy, one goal is to add new value to evergreen content we’ve already created.

This strategy means adapting, repurposing, and repackaging content in ways that add value for current readers and help us reach new audiences. It can also mean changing where and how we share Brainzooming content.

17 Ways to Add New Value to Evergreen Content

As we often do, more than willing to share our strategy ideas with you as we develop and implement them.

Evergreen-Lookup

Here are 17 ways we’re considering to add new value to evergreen content we’ve already developed:

  1. Update the content to enhance its timeliness
  2. Expand the content so it is more comprehensive
  3. Strengthen the content by making it better researched and authoritative
  4. Create a more effective order for the content
  5. Deliver the content in shorter chunks
  6. Communicate a single piece of content in a longer format with greater depth
  7. Add detail to the content so it answers questions more thoroughly
  8. Increase the frequency with which you publish for those who want more
  9. Decrease the frequency with which you publish for those who want less
  10. Tell a story with the content
  11. Convert the content into an eCard
  12. Enhance the content with lots of photos
  13. Deliver the content across a wider range of media
  14. Create a podcast from the content to make it more portable for the audience
  15. Change the medium in which the content is delivered
  16. Compile separate, but related pieces of content into a more comprehensive format (eBook, compilation video, presentation, etc.)
  17. Recompose the content from a different perspective

What can you grab off this list for your content marketing strategy?

We’re further narrowing this list of ways to add new value to evergreen content. What ideas could work best for you on this list to deliver greater value to your audiences from your content marketing strategy? – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social business strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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 were talking during a business development call about the advantages and approaches to what is commonly called “influencer marketing,” and how a consumer brand might incorporate it into its social media strategy.

The Limitations of Most Influencer Marketing Strategy Implementations

Ingluencer-MarketingPut simply, influencer marketing involves a brand attempting to engage with individuals that have attractive, targeted audiences the brand hopes to reach with its marketing messages. The potential influencers can range from celebrities – either the “real” or the “Internet” type – with large audiences to experts and personalities attracting audiences with shared interest in particular subject areas.

My comment was the way we see brands approach influencer marketing, the strategy and execution is typically woefully lacking.

Too often (at least based on the inquiries The Brainzooming Group receives), the initial engagement comes via email or Twitter right when the requesting brand expects help and support. There’s an assumed interest in devoting time, effort, and attention to promote a book, app, or event simply based on the presumption that whatever the organization is pitching will be interesting for your readers.

The Right Way to Build Mutually-Beneficial Relationships

Contrast that with the initial and ongoing interaction we’ve had with Stephen Lahey of the Small Business Talent podcast. Stephen, who is the recognized number one Brainzooming fan, started actively sharing Brainzooming content within his network several years ago.

After some time, he reached out to talk on the phone months in advance of starting his Small Business Talent podcast. It was a two-way conversation about both our businesses and aspirations, including his plans for the podcast. That and subsequent conversations turned into a request to be a guest on the new podcast at a mutually convenient time.

Our relationship has grown into multiple appearances on the podcast, creating completely new, three-part Brainzooming content for Stephen’s audience, and regularly commenting and sharing new podcast updates. In addition, we have regular calls that continue the discussion about our business strategies. And all the while, Stephen remains unbelievably generous in sharing our content daily with his audience across multiple social networks.

The thing is that’s not an exclusive relationship Stephen has with Brainzooming. He’s doing the same things with other past and future podcast guests.

That’s what building an engaged network of supporters is all about.

The challenge is though, it takes planning, it’s not immediate, it’s not quick, and you couldn’t easily hire an agency to implement the strategy for your brand. Brands thus default to what passes for influencer marketing, thinking they can check that box off the social media strategy list.

7 Lessons for Improving an Influencer Marketing Strategy

If you want to pursue relationship building and engagement (as opposed to simply influencer marketing) here are our seven recommended lessons:

  1. Don’t make your initial contact a request for someone to do something for your brand.
  2. Go beyond electronic communication to engage personally and actually TALK with each other.
  3. Start by GIVING something to the individual you want to build a relationship with so you have done something for them before you ask them to do something for your brand.
  4. Have a variety of ways for the individual to engage so he or she can pick something that fits their aspirations and needs.
  5. Introduce the individuals you are targeting to one another and others within your network to create stronger connections.
  6. Do as much of the work for them as possible to increase the likelihood they will share your messages.
  7. Concentrate as much on elevating their stature as your brand’s stature because doing so will in turn increase your brand’s exposure.

These recommended lessons are harder than a slapped together influencer marketing strategy. They’ll actually work to create long-lasting relationships with your brand, however.

You decide what strategy makes more sense for your brand. – Mike Brown

 

Want to Learn More about Small Business Talent? You can find Stephen Lahey and his online resources at www.smallbusinesstalent.com (subscribe to the podcast and find more of your ideal clients using The SmallBusinessTalent.com LinkedIn Power Checklist® – it’s free).

 

“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question. Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social business strategies with these nine diagnostics. 

You're minutes away from stronger social media success!  Download



 

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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“What’s after Facebook?”

That’s the question a non-profit executive director asked. The non-profit has been using Facebook very successfully for specific fund raising purposes. Her very valid concern is what happens when Facebook finally changes its algorithm to the point where her organization’s updates get no attention without paying for it?

It’s an important social media strategy question for any brand linking elements of its organizational success to a social networking platform performing in a certain way. You might as well go ahead and figure that if your strategy’s success is tied to some other organization’s Terms of Service, your strategy’s future success is at risk.

Given that, the question isn’t so much about what happens after Facebook as it is, “Why is what the organization is doing on Facebook currently working so well?”

  • Is it the audience?
  • The type of requests?
  • The way the specific requests are delivered?
  • The level and type of engagement this audience group has with the organization?
  • The ease with which the audience can respond?

Or, is it really something about Facebook that makes it all work?

A Social Media Strategy for Right Now

With solid strategic answers to these questions, it’s vital, as soon as possible, to start engaging the audience in new ways. The objective is to replicate, as best possible, the role Facebook (or some other platform) plays in the successful engagement the organization has cultivated.

That may mean growing its ability to use email, text, or other “owned” communication channels to reach its audience at critical times with comparable requests.

How to Think About Social Networks

New-House

One of our most popular social media strategy posts features a variety of offline analogies to focus your strategic thinking on various aspects of social media. Here’s another analogy to add to the list. It pertains to social networks in general:

“If you aren’t creating the terms of service for a social network, think about the platform like you would a college apartment. You might invest a few dollars and a little bit of time to spruce it up. You would never sink real money into fixing up the apartment and making it better, however, because somebody else owns it, you may only be there for a short period of time, and while you’re there, you’ll probably throw some wild parties and trash the place. Plus, ultimately, you’ll want to have a place that’s really your own. That’s where you’re safe investing to build it out and make sure it’s exactly what you want.”

So if you have been investing most of your social emphasis on social networks, consider yourself warned. Start thinking about how to fix up and take better advantage of your long-term home – not your college apartment! – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social business strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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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After my Brainzooming workshop on creating fantastic content at the Social Media Strategies Summit, one attendee took exception to it. His point of contention was the model we use that suggests brands think about content creation as if they were television networks. The point is television networks have been successfully creating and curating content for years; they have also historically found a balance between entertainment and commercial messages that still attracts audiences.

150223-TV-Exec

In our view, for brands struggling with creating a significant amount of audience-focused content, thinking about a television network is helpful. Nearly everyone is familiar with and sees comparable television network examples that stimulate new ideas and strategies.

He told me later (both in conversation and on the workshop review) that I’m the only speaker on content marketing or social media strategy he’s EVER heard make this case. I personally think that’s good considering all the me-too crap you hear at conferences.

The challenge to this apparently unique perspective on content marketing strategy focused on two areas:

  1. TV is losing viewership so what television networks do isn’t solid advice
  2. Social media held the promise of completely new ways of interacting with audiences, and the TV model is inconsistent with that promise

It’s true that television viewership is declining. It’s also true that social media is / was supposed to be different. Despite this, I still stand behind our recommendation for thinking about creating content as a TV network would.

Why?

TV networks have always had to:

  • Consider the audience and what it likes in making content decisions
  • Wade through many more content ideas than the audience will ever see just to fill its content calendar
  • Use entertainment value as a major factor in getting an audience to stick around for commercial messages (whether paid commercials or product placements)
  • Promote their programming to help build an audience
  • Package and repackage content in multiple places to attempt to cost-effectively reach targeted audiences

While these five point don’t account for an entire content marketing strategy (which is why we share other models in the workshop), most brands struggling with WHAT content to create and curate would be so much further ahead if they did just these five things better.

While I understand where the audience member was coming from and will acknowledge his perspective in future workshops, I’ll stand with our model for now as a big jump start for brands that simply don’t currently understand content marketing strategy. – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social business strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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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Recently, we asked solo social media professionals to share their strategies, ideas, tips, and tricks for how they perform dual social media strategy and implementation roles as one person solo social media departments.

Solo-Social

8 Solo Social Media Professional Success Tips

Based on the responses for our survey,  here are eight ideas solo social media professionals can adopt to improve their performance as they function as one person social media departments.

“Always carry a second admin in case you are struck by lightning and have the only keys to your organization’s social media kingdom.”

This is a wonderful reminder to make sure someone else in the organization can get into the brand’s social media presences if you can’t for some reason.

“Make sure you are included in meetings/receive the editorial calendar from your marketing and communications department (if your job title isn’t attached to this department) which will allow you to schedule content that is part of the campaign or event.”

It’s vital to create the appropriate strategic presence in the organization that social media gets brought in on the front end of strategy development and isn’t considered an afterthought.

“Learn to say no.”

If you can’t say, “No,” you’re always subject to having your social media strategy altered (perhaps dramatically) by someone else who may not have the right insights or understanding to be setting strategy. The key is YOU need to be solid in your strategic thinking or your “No” can be arbitrary.

“Create a content calendar.”

If you’re on your own, it may be easy to slough this social media strategy idea off and simply create content. A content calendar, however, keeps you honest and intentional about what you’re doing with social media.

“Gather all tools, graphics, sentences etc. before starting campaign – think about it before posting.”

This is another one where it might be easy (but definitely isn’t wise) to simply create content as you go if you don’t really have to coordinate with anyone else on a team.

“Utilize the best social media management available for your situation.”

Based on the responses to most beneficial tools, Hootsuite is the go-to social media management application for these respondents. Canva received multiple dimensions for creating graphics for various social platforms. Other mentions included: Aviary, Buffer, PicMonkey, Flipboard, and multiple Twitter cleanup tools (Justunfollow.com, Unfollow.com, Untweep.com).

“Schedule in advance” and “Set aside time for certain tasks throughout the week – schedule it on your calendar as if it were a meeting.”

There’s so much value in these two suggestions. It’s smart to shift as much content creation out of real time as possible; doing so provides valuable thinking and review time. Additionally, if you don’t schedule time to get work done (as opposed to just scheduling meetings) you won’t get the essential social media work completed.

“Have your social apps on your phone so you can review/respond to interaction anytime you have a down moment.”

Great advice. You never want to be away from access to your social presences if something explodes.

Are you a solo social media professional asking yourself, “Where should I prioritize developing my company’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

IF you are a one person social media department, you need quick answers and ideas on where to prioritize your work? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you can explore your online presence from various angles and determine how to best set your priorities.

You can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social business strategies with these diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

 

 

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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