Marketing | The Brainzooming Group - Part 50 – page 50
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We had a great afternoon this past weekend celebrating a friend’s birthday on the Plaza in Kansas City. We’ve done this previously, returning to the Plaza for his birthday for the first time in two years. Following a late lunch, we returned for drinks to the same “upscale” restaurant we visited last time. Notice that our “return” suggests it’s becoming a tradition, spending time on their patio on a beautiful August day.

Mid-afternoon, having already been seated, the waiter informed us that if we didn’t order food, we’d have to move. The reason? Because we’d been seated in an area reserved only for people ordering food. This after the greeter hadn’t inquired about our planned order. (We’ve run into similar situations there before though, with the restaurant refusing to serve its Happy Hour menu on the patio, forcing you inside if you weren’t ordering off the main menu.) When asked, the greeter informed us that if we ordered appetizers, we could stay where we were seated. We elected to order some food, although we’d just eaten, and there’s essentially nothing on the menu (other than dessert) that my wife can eat.

Later, the person that seated us (and had told us to seek him out if we needed anything) came around to ask how things were. I told him matter of factly that everything was fine once we were coerced into ordering food. He expressed surprise that the waiter would have hassled us over this issue mid-afternoon, clearly outside of peak time, when the patio was half full. He ultimately made the waiter come over and apologize, saying he’d been misdirected by the restaurant manager to say something to us originally. Yet at the same time, someone near us was being told the same policy. For our trouble, they comped us a couple of desserts.

The end result was that the restaurant was successful in driving a lot more revenue from our table – that day. Long term, I doubt it will be part of any traditions for us, because the pain of dealing with their elitist crap seating policy tarnishes the view from its patio location.

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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Powerful comparisons are important to many creative thinking exercises. While the types of comparisons may vary, for the more than twenty-five “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises on the Brainzooming blog, delegating an opportunity or challenge to someone you wouldn’t typically think about selecting to do your work yields a wide variety of creative ideas.

Creative Ideas from an Unlikely Character?

The Change Your Character creative thinking exercises use someone in a completely different line of work to help you look at your own situation with a fresh perspective.

Here are the steps for Change Your Character:

  1. State the business challenge that you’re addressing – it could be an opportunity, a problem, a new process or approach, etc.
  2. Pick who you want to work on your situation. This could be a real person, a fictional or cartoon character, or even another business that faces an analogous situation.
  3. Once you’ve identified who you’ll put on the job, list 8 to 10 approaches that the person, character, or business uses to address opportunities or challenges.
  4. Using the 8 to 10 approaches, apply them to your situation to generate at least 3 new ideas each for solving it.

Each of the Change Your Character creative thinking exercises does steps 2 and 3 for you. This allows you to focus primarily on step 4 – creative idea generation.

25 “Change Your Character” Creative Thinking Exercises

Here’s a compilation of 25 of these creative thinking exercises you can bookmark for use in successfully addressing future opportunities. Within each category, the situations and characters covered are listed, along with a link to the original article.

Strategy

Relationship & Brand Building

Team Building

Management & Problem Solving

Professional Skills

Just a note – I used Bart Simpson recently, and it worked very well. Give it a try and have great success Changing Your Character! – Mike Brown

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Learn all about Mike Brown’s creative thinking and innovation presentations!

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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Police detectives are responsible for identifying and developing leads, often with little actual information to go on, and successfully solving cases. The challenge is not unlike the effort required to find and develop solid leads for business development purposes.

Next time you’re faced with that task, delegate your challenge to a police detective and see how their methods could help you solve the case of the missing customer. Detectives:

  • Interview witnesses & knowledgeable people for clues
  • Gather evidence
  • Check for & analyze fingerprints
  • Perform forensic analysis
  • Search databases for suspects in previous similar cases
  • Work with other related agencies
  • Tap phone lines
  • Conduct surveillance
  • Ask the public for help

Once again, try to generate three ideas for each of the police detective approaches above. And be careful out there!

Check out a compilation of “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises and information on its use.  – Mike Brown

 

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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 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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How do the companies we do business with feel about us as customers?

And no, not the standard corporate b.s. about being customer-centric, customer focused, or dedicated to serving us. How do the executives and the people we interact with really talk about us when we aren’t around?

Hope it doesn’t sound like the “Charge More” ad from Direct TV. But the ad works because we probably all suspect this IS what it sounds like. The scary part is that those suspicions are likely formed by what discussions about customers sound like at our own companies. If that’s the case, figure out what you can do to change it and start doing something about it right away!

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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Here’s another post from Barrett Sydnor, this one addressing how the sequence of competitive alternatives can suggest both threats and potential opportunities:

One of the most interesting things I ever heard a client say came from a person who had spent most of his work life in cable television. Talking about the future of the industry, he wondered if cable television would ever have come to be if satellite television (DIRECTV, DISH Network) had been invented first.

This leads to an intriguing way of looking at the current and potential competitive landscape for your organization. Ask the question: If their (newer) X had been invented first, how much of a market would there be for our (older) Y? (X and Y can be physical products, services or even brands.)

If your answer is “not much” or even “considerably less,” it’s hair on fire time. It doesn’t mean that life as you know it will soon end, but it does mean that you need to do something and do something fast, no matter how small Product X’s market share might be currently.

Cable did do something, if offered bundles of video, telephone and high-speed internet service that satellite couldn’t match. It did not totally stop the bleeding, but it did cut satellite’s growth from 12% year over year to 7% for each of the last two years. Unfortunately for cable, it has not grown at all and its market share is still shrinking.

As with any type of planning it is often instructive to look at examples outside your industry. Here are some thought starters. A good exercise would be to determine how the entities on the right in each bullet have reacted to incursions by the entities on the left. Have they been successful, why or why not? What can you learn from their successes and failures?

If _________ Were Invented First Would We Have _________ ?
  • Satellite television – Cable television
  • Wireless phones – Landlines
  • Google – Yahoo
  • FedEx – Post Office
  • Email – Post Office
  • Wal-Mart – Sears
  • Kindle – Printed Books
  • MP3 – CD
  • Lexus – Cadillac
  • Riverboat casinos – Las Vegas
  • Macintosh – Microsoft

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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Having gone through a duty free area at a foreign airport recently, there was some great store planning in evidence:

  • Every traveler had to go through the duty free shop immediately after the security checkpoint – there was no getting around it.
  • It was very bright with lots of room to branch off and shop.
  • There were very visible sales clerks in brightly colored outfits (you guessed it – they were orange!)
  • The luxury items (perfume & liquor) were right inside the door, getting your attention early while you were still orienting yourself from security and had the most money to spend.
  • Toys and other kids’ items were located at the far end of the store, so kids didn’t get distracted early and potentially frustrate parental shopping efforts until right before checkout.
  • You had to walk through nearly the entire store before the first opportunity to exit.

It was a strong use of place to generate sales opportunities. How can you apply these lessons directly if you’re in a placed-related business or indirectly, if you’re not, to create more stickiness in your marketing and sales 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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My contention is that time shouldn’t be a factor in determining whether an issue is strategic, i.e., what you’re having for lunch 3 years from today isn’t strategic simply because it’s long-term and a significant quality performance conversation isn’t tactical simply because it’s happening this afternoon.

Based on this assertion, somebody asked me the question: if long-term doesn’t define strategic, what does?

Here’s a partial list for considering what’s strategic for a brand. Obviously the list would look different at a department or project level, but here’s an overall picture.

  • Is it central to the brand, its representation, or delivery of the brand promise?
  • Does it broadly and/or directly affect key audiences for your brand?
  • Could it significantly attract or disaffect customers and prospects?
  • Does it significantly affect organizational structure or alignment?
  • Could it materially affect the brand’s financial prospects?
  • Does it touch the heart of the core purpose, values, and/or vision of the organization?
  • Will the organization’s supply of resources or raw materials be dramatically affected?

The more questions you can answer in the affirmative, the more likely an issue is and should be addressed strategically.

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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