Implementation | The Brainzooming Group - Part 116 – page 116
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Following up Woody Bendle’s innovation rant on  “best practices,” try this alternative approach: instead of cataloging industry best practices in search of new, innovative ideas, look at how another organization with a comparable situation outside your industry would tackle what you’re trying to improve.

We call this Brainzooming strategic thinking exercise, “What’s It Like?”

Strategy Planning with What’s It Like?

Hospital-Home-DepotI was speaking to someone who worked at a hospital during a graduate school class where I was presenting. She bemoaned a recent strategy planning session at her hospital. She said it was clear the doctors didn’t want to be there, the staff was bored, and the strategy planning session ended with no new future-looking ideas surfacing.

To give her a sense of how the “What’s It Like” strategic thinking exercise might have completely changed the dynamics of the hospital’s strategy planning session, I asked her to describe the hospital situation. We generalized the five characteristics she named, describing the hospital as focused on:

  • Fixing things
  • Taking care of customers
  • Employing people
  • Providing opportunities for learning
  • Making money

Reviewing the list for a comparable organization, we decided all five of the characteristics matched The Home Depot.

With the new perspective The Home Depot supplied, we started brainstorming. Ideas began flowing, including the idea of the hospital offering do-it-yourself surgery. While she scoffed at the idea, I pointed out people twenty years earlier would have said no patient would ever perform medical tests. Now, however, think about how many personal medical tests line the shelves at drugstores. Quite frankly, I can see some version of do-it-yourself surgery (assisted with robotics) becoming common within twenty years, even though it was so future-looking as to be laughable within the past few years.

New, Innovative Ideas from Outside Your Industry

What’s It Like is as simple a strategic thinking exercise to use as the hospital vs. The Home Depot brainstorming example demonstrates:

  • Pick your business opportunity or challenge
  • List a variety of characteristics of your business opportunity or challenge, potentially generalizing the characteristics
  • Select an organization facing a comparable situation
  • Brainstorm how the other organization, given its different view of your organization’s situation, would approach things

With What’s It Like, you get away from the idea of industry best practices, and allow yourself to think of completely new, innovative ideas for your organization no one in your industry is practicing! – 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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2

Product-Launches-FailWhat role do public relations efforts play when new product launches fail? Can public relations be the sole cause?

How significant a role can the public relations strategy for a new product launch play in mitigating other launch-related issues?

And what can a public relations professional do to play a more active, strategic role to contribute toward new product launch success even if problems surface in other support areas?

These questions are all part of a talk I’m presenting at the PR Consultants Group annual conference in Kansas City. Chaired by good friend, Alex Greenwood, of AlexG PR, the session will focus on how public relations professionals can hone their strategic, creative, and innovation-oriented skill sets to be more effective with product launches.

You Tell Me the Strategic Thinking Exercises to Cover!

Mike-Brown-SpeakingAnd in what has become a typical presentation technique for me, the strategic thinking exercises for PR consultants we’ll cover during the session will ALL be chosen by the group as the presentation progresses.

Yes, that means when the presentation starts, I’ll have no idea what specific topics we’ll cover!

I’ve been using this presentation technique more frequently since a “you decide what matters to you and we’ll go there” presentation strategy tracks with the Brainzooming brand promise of being highly flexible and interactive when developing successful market strategies.

The presentation draws on ideas about why product launches fail from a Harvard Business Review article titled, naturally enough, “Why Most Product Launches Fail.” I’ve reshaped the article’s list of forty reasons for why most product launches fail to a manageable list of twelve reasons with ties to public relations. Even though the audience is comprised of all public relations consultants, the presentation topics will be valuable to anyone involved in developing successful product launches.

In that spirit, here are links to numerous Brainzooming articles on how being more strategic, creative, and innovative can help address the reasons for why new product launches fail.

Developing a Strategic Business Perspective

Being More Strategic

Being More Creative

Being More Innovative

How PR Can Address Reasons Product Launches Fail

Unclear or Wrong Audience / Market

Little Market Research or Unclear Differentiation

Product Is Too New or Too Different

Bad or Weak Product Claims & Advertising

Product Priced too High

Crisis Issues: Product / Quality Supply / Regulatory

Not Enough $ for PR, Marketing, Launch and/or Sustaining Sales

Everything Depends on PR

Too Much or Little Social Media

The In-house Marketing Campaign Isn’t Objective

Spokesperson Issues

Sales Buy-in or Knowledge Lacking

Lack of Influencers Supporting Launch

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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4

Here’s part 2 to Woody Bendle’s exploration of retail shopper experience insights and innovation through a “Three I’s of Shopping” framework that allows a retail innovator to gain a stronger understanding of shoppers’ needs. You can click here to read Part 1, in case you missed it

 

Innovating the Retail Shopper Experience by Woody Bendle

Yesterday, we explored a framework based on the “Three I’s of Shopping” to better understand retail shopper experience innovation based on customer needs. The three I’s focus on the Immediacy of the shopping need along with the degree to which the retail shopper is seeking Inspiration and/or Information.

To inspire innovative thinking about the retail brand experience, we’ll consider VERY different shopping environments and the orientation of these stores’ shoppers.

High Inspiration, High Information, Low Immediate Need

Picasso-FishHere in Leawood Kansas, we have one of the COOLEST shopping experiences you will ever encounter with Picasso Exotic Aquatics. This store specializes in absolutely gorgeous fresh and saltwater fish and aquarium systems.  With every visit, I am profoundly awed by the living beauty on display.  It’s like visiting an aquarium – for free!

Picasso Exotic Aquatics TOTALLY delivers on the inspiration dimension – which makes sense for this type of a concept if you think about it.  It’s hard to imagine too many people coming into this store with an urgent or immediate need to buy some exotic fish or an aquarium (the exception perhaps being the need to quickly replace your husband’s prized saltwater tank that just fell over and shattered because your six year old son decided to help your family’s curious tom-cat out by pushing him into the tank – after all, he looked like he wanted in there).

Outside of this rare (but nonetheless real) exception, most people visiting Picasso Exotic Aquatics are probably there for inspiration and information.  This store’s job is to captivate the imagination and provide information to its shoppers to inspire a purchase – either now, or perhaps some time down the road.  And, I cannot imagine that anyone would leave this store without being inspired.  Job well done!

High Immediate Need, Moderate Information, Low-to-moderate Inspiration

When thinking of retail stores with a high proportion of traffic having an immediate or urgent need to make a purchase, grocery stores are among the first to come to mind.  Most of us can relate to that “dang-it” moment when we open the fridge only to realize there is no milk, or you are ready to start your dishwasher and realize you’re out of soap.

I had one of these moments this weekend – AFTER I had already successfully checked off everything on my Saturday morning grocery shopping list.  I had visited Hy-Vee, Walmart AND Costco that morning – because I can never seem to get everything at one place.  My shopper need orientation was highly “need” skewed, but not “urgent.”  I was on a mission admittedly, but there wasn’t an extreme constraint.  The “urgent” came as we began to make dinner and realized a critical ingredient was missing.  Yep, I made a speedy trip to Price Chopper – four different stores in the same day!

Grocery chains are really smart when it comes to shopper insights. They know there are certain things such as milk, bread, diapers, etc. that are often bought by customers with urgent needs.  If they were designing stores for maximum shopping efficiency, these items would be placed at the front of the store so customers with urgent needs could quickly get in and out.

BUT, these urgent items are nearly ALWAYS in the back of the store.  You’ve got to walk by all sorts of cleverly merchandised and promoted stuff – and of course, you now have this completely unforeseen need to purchase something that you hadn’t planned on purchasing – such as the family sized bag of nacho-cheese flavored Doritos and a 12-pack of Coca-Cola – because tomorrow is game day!  Sound familiar? THAT’s why I didn’t stick to 100% to my shopping list at ANY of the four places I shopped over the weekend.

TescoOver the years, grocers have done some very clever things to innovate the shopper experience. One of the absolute coolest is what the UK based grocery chain, Tesco, did in South Korea.

Faced with the challenge of growing their South Korean grocery business in the face of VERY LIMITED, and VERY EXPENSIVE real estate opportunities, the Tesco team developed a virtual grocery store allowing commuters to shop digitally in subway stations using smart phones, as they were going to, or coming home from work. The groceries are delivered to their home that evening.  Tesco recognized the shopper need orientation and innovated an entirely new shopper experience for time constrained shoppers.  These grocery shoppers didn’t need inspiration or comparative shopping information. What they needed was getting their groceries while saving time in their hectic lives.

This program has been so successful, Tesco has now launched it in the UK as well.

Let’s think about innovating!

As these two examples illustrate, shopper experiences can be innovated in unique and very compelling ways.  But chances are, you will not  be successful by just winging it; you have to start by deeply and thoroughly understanding your customers’ needs.  You also need to know the role your store (and its experience) is expected to, and might be able to serve.

To do, this you can start by learning about your shoppers’ three I’s:

  • Immediate Need
  • Information Seeking
  • Inspiration Seeking

Once you better understand the shopper needs orientation of your store’s customers, think about the following questions:

  1. Is the store experience optimized to best serve the primary need(s) of my core customers and deliver “wow”?
  2. How might we enhance the design to better meet (or even better) or exceed my shoppers’ primary need(s)?
  3. Might we be able to enhance our store experience (and potentially sales and loyalty) by dialing up design / service elements aligned against secondary or tertiary shopper needs?
  4. How else might we deliver an exceptional shopping experience and create even more “wow”?
  5. Does the shopper need orientation vary during different times of the day or different days of the week?
  6. What other retail stores or concepts have similar shopper need orientation profiles and what are they doing?
  7. Are there aspects of my store experience or design that are getting in the way of an exceptional shopping experience?

Admittedly, this list isn’t exhaustive. I’d love to hear what other questions you have!  If you are retailer facing growth challenges, one possible opportunity for growth might exist by innovating your shopper experience.

Now, let’s get innovating! – Woody Bendle

 

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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6

Frequent Brainzooming guest blogger Woody Bendle showcases his extensive expertise on retail shopper experience insights and innovation with the first of this two part post on innovating the retail shopper experience through a framework and stronger understanding of shoppers’ needs:

 

Innovating the Retail Shopper Experience – Part 1 by Woody Bendle

woody-bendleA 2009 research study by the Verde Group, Wharton Business School and the Retail Council of Canada titled  “Discovering ‘WOW’ – A study of great retail shopping experiences in North America” states that only 35% of shoppers have had a “wow” shopping experience within the prior six months.  The study’s authors boil retail shopper experience elements down to the following five foundational pillars:

  1. Engagement – being polite, genuinely caring and being interested in helping, acknowledging and listening
  2. Executional Excellence – patiently explaining and advising, checking stock, helping to find products, having product knowledge and providing unexpected product quality
  3. Brand Experience – exciting store design and atmosphere, consistently great product quality, making customers feel they’re special and that they’re always getting a deal
  4. Expediting  –  being sensitive to customers’ time in long check out lines, being proactive in helping speed the shopping process
  5. Problem Recovery – helping resolve and compensate for problems, upgrading quality and ensuring complete satisfaction.

The study’s authors specifically note retailers often under deliver on brand experience.  Meaning, many retail shoppers feel as though they are experiencing a homogenized sea of sameness across retail concepts.

What to do?  –  Innovate your store’s shopping experience!

Innovation opportunities exist for every business type.  People commonly associate innovation with inventing, or creating a totally new (or new and improved) product or product category; but often, the most impactful innovations have nothing to do with a specific product.  If your business is retail, and you don’t actually make the things you sell, you can only innovate something other than the product.  And as the Verde Group / Wharton Business School authors point out, one glaringly overlooked opportunity for innovation in the retail shopper experience is the store or brand experience.

OK, so where to start?  – Understand your shoppers’ needs!

I’ve found retail shopper experience occasions can generally be classified into three need orientations.  I call these occasions the “Three I’s of Shopping.”

  1. Immediate Need – The shopper needs to obtain something reasonably soon; if not right now.
  2. Inspiration Seeking – The shopper is open to the possibility of making a purchase if something inspires, or captivates their imagination.
  3. Information Seeking – The shopper is “in the market” and is contemplating making a purchase, from somewhere, sometime in the near future but their current mission is obtaining information in order to make a better.

Innovating a retail shopper experience requires understanding the shopping need orientation of your customers and dialing up the experience to best serve their needs.  It is also important to keep in mind that shoppers don’t necessarily fall exclusively into only one need orientation. There might be an opportunity to improve the brand experience by catering to secondary or tertiary needs.

As you contemplate innovating the retail shopper experience in your store, it is also important to keep in mind that shoppers’ needs aren’t always purely transactional (meaning, they just want to efficiently purchase something and get out of your store quickly).  Regularly in retail, many needs consumers are seeking to fulfill are emotional.  Shoppers may want to “feel” a certain way when they are shopping at your store.  Or perhaps, shoppers want to be perceived a certain way as a result of shopping at a particular store.

Before you begin coming up with ideas for innovating your retail shopper experience, it is critically important to first understand all of your consumers’ needs and assess how well your shoppers feel their needs are being met in the marketplace and by your store.

In tomorrow’s post, we’ll look at specific, VERY different shopping environments with different shopper orientations – one that’s high inspiration and high information, and another that’s high on immediate need.

Between now and then, think about your own shopping experiences that fit into these categories, and tomorrow we’ll explore the innovation opportunities in each of these brand experience situations. – Woody Bendle

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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3

It’s fantastic to welcome back B2B marketing expert Randall Rozin for another guest article, this one on how to unleash creative thinking. Randall’s six ways to unleash more creativity provide another valuable perspective that creativity is n’t frivolous in business but is essential. Here’s Randall!

Six Surefire Ways to Unleash More Creativity in Your Business by Randall Rozin

Randall-RozinI know many people in business settings who view themselves as ‘creatively challenged’.  They simply think that they are not creative.   Untrue.  We all have the capacity for vast levels of creative thinking.  While certain disciplines (i.e., advertising, the arts, and industrial design) tend to draw more “creative” types, I believe creativity exists within all parts of a business.  The trick is to help people unlock their creative potential to solve problems, to create new problems for competitors, to make the workplace more engaging, and to contribute to the bottom line.

Here are six surefire ways I have found to help unleash more creativity in an organization.

1.      Set Expectations

With expectation setting you are giving your people the permission they need to overcome the ‘self-editing’ behaviors that limit their ideas. Expect creativity and creative thinking in your people.  Recognize it, nurture it, and reinforce it.

2.       Use Comfort or Shock

Imagine a continuum ranging from “Comfort to Shock.”  Creating the right conditions along any point of this continuum can help frame the need for expansive thinking in your people.  Some examples:

 3.       Practice divergent and convergent thinking

Divergent thinking allows you to generate as many ideas as possible from the simple to the complex and relevant to non relevant.  Convergent thinking allows you to combine your ideas into a more logical form. The outcome is an idea set that can merge to form a creative insight to inform a strategy, business model, or other innovation.

 4.      Combine ideas into a new form

Often innovations come from two dissimilar ideas combined together to form something completely unique.  Look around and you’ll see ideas abound outside your department, your company, your industry, even your culture that when applied to your unique problem can provide an insight that has escaped so many others before you.

5.       Slow down before you speed up

It is tempting to jump right into the solution space.  Slowing down up front allows for observation, for sensory input, for looking beyond the obvious to allow deeper processing.  Then creativity can explode.

6.      Practice ‘Future Hindsight’

I call this method ‘future hindsight’ because, as humans, we can leverage a unique skill to think in a future tense.  Use this technique to project yourself into a future timeframe and look back at your present situation.  When you do this you’ll see obstacles are not so large or so permanent. You can examine your current state with a different lens.  Then you can begin to imagine what you need to happen in the future then set a path to get there more clearly.

Creativity with a Profit is Business

Remember that creativity for its own sake is art and creativity with a profit motive is business. Business tries to rationalize and make things more efficient.  While creativity is not always the most efficient process, it can be transformative.  So you have to embrace some level of inefficiency to get the maximum benefit from creative thinking and the creative process. – Randall Rozin

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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5

Final-ReportPreparing the final report for a long-term client engagement, I revisited our project management techniques relative to what goes into the document. Certainly The Brainzooming Group has nuances regarding how we conduct and create the final report for a strategy session we facilitate. Our new and reconfirmed project management techniques for closing out big projects, however, will be valuable to you when you are on the hook to prepare a final report of your own.

5 Final Report Success Tips

1. A final report is about the valuable output, not all the inputs

The important part of a final report is the set of recommendations from the project effort. While individual ideas generated along the way may have been interesting, their value as standalone ideas is secondary if they were not incorporated into the recommendations. While this is not surprising, there is still a part of me that struggles with not including all the ideas we had along the way into the final report for whatever value they may have in the future. Slowly, however, I am getting over this.

2. Do not waste too much time working out of sequence on the final report

Preparing the final report of a project that is complex will not necessarily happen in sequential order. If you are stuck trying to work on the beginning of the report, your inclination may be to start skipping around between sections to make at least some forward progress. As a project management technique, that is worth a try, but resist the inclination to skip around too much. Instead, settle on the section you think you have the best chance of advancing and focus on pushing that section of the final report forward for an extended time. Doing this lets you build momentum in a way that skipping around will not.

3. Print the final report draft and spread it out

When you have a big final report document underway, it is possible you will only be able to go so far organizing it onscreen. This is especially true if you need to make significant changes to move the final report of the project toward completion. If you find yourself staring at the screen for more than ten minutes unable to make a move to rearrange it, print the document (or at least a section of it) and use a paper copy you can spread out, reorder, and discover a better way to organize it.

4. Some final report sections may not fit and aren’t worth any more time

If a project is strategic, creative, and/or developmental in nature, by the time you get close to completion, you may have sections of the final report in both varying stages of completion and applicability. Some sections may seem less applicable the further along you get in preparing the report. Do not be reluctant to yank those sections from the final report if you cannot reasonably fix or complete them efficiently or on a timely basis.

5. Finishing can involve taking things away, not doing more

Looking at this project at one point, my comment was, “It’s too much and too little at the same time.” Sounds like Goldilocks when you read it here. The point is for as much as completing the final report of a project “seems” to be about adding more things, if you’re getting lost in how to complete it, smartly removing things may be the fastest way to get a project done.

What project management techniques help you finish the final report of a project?

We have many readers who have project management responsibilities, so what works for you in completing a significant final report document? Or what have you tried and found to not work – even though you would think it would? Getting projects closed out is a valuable skill, so we’d appreciate hearing your successes. – Mike Brown

 

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Does your organization have good ideas, but lacks the wherewithal to bring them to reality? The Brainzooming Group and our collaborative, implementation-oriented project management techniques will quickly move you toward success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 for a free consultation on how to get started.

 

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

I listened in on Dan Rockwell (aka “Leadership Freak”) and his “Writing Blogs that Get Read” webinar. Dan has built a very successful blog and social media presence with a large audience in a few years. “Writing Blogs that Get Read” was his first webinar and targeted at sharing his blogging success ideas.

Do-This-ThatWhile Dan Rockwell certainly shared many familiar ideas during the webinar, I kept a running list of ideas we haven’t pursued with the Brainzooming blog. Sometimes it has been because of priorities; sometimes is has been because of conscious decisions we haven’t adopted a particular strategy.

Regardless of the reason, since we share social media lessons from our experience, the page full of alternative blogging success ideas I captured makes sense to feature since it’s new to Brainzooming readers.

18 Blogging Success Ideas You Haven’t Read on Brainzooming

Here are eighteen blogging success ideas Dan Rockwell is using for content development, engagement, audience building:

  1. Write each day’s blog post that day to increase the sense of immediacy.
  2. Write in a “you” voice, not “I” or “me.”
  3. Don’t ever go over 300 words in a blog post. If the topic could be longer, either don’t write everything or break it up into multiple posts.
  4. Display your picture prominently on the blog.
  5. Don’t feature guest blog posts. Readers want to hear the primary blog author’s perspectives and voice.
  6. Contact industry leaders, business experts, and authors to connect and pave the way for interview posts. This strategy makes them part of your audience building effort as they point their networks to your blog when the interview blog post publishes.
  7. Aggressively first follow on Twitter (i.e., follow many people first, and more people than are following you) – even after you’ve built a social media audience.
  8. Reach out to book publishers to request author interviews. This also increases the range of connections and content opportunities you have.
  9. Create awards you develop and sponsor. These grow the number of people engaged with the blog at multiple points in the awards process.
  10. Incorporate excerpts from your blog posts into the tweets promoting the blog post link.
  11. Keep extensive lists of how your blog promotion tweets perform and repeat the tweets creating the greatest engagement.
  12. You can build an audience without paying much, if any attention, to SEO – if you use other social media audience building tactics.
  13. Give away incentives for readers leaving comments.
  14. Email contributors who leave comments to extend the discussion.
  15. Have a specific set of needs you are asking readers and your extended network for help with on a regular basis.
  16. Invest time to leave comments on high traffic sites, such as Harvard Business Review.
  17. Avoid shifting the URL for your blog as it develops (we’re on our third URL).
  18. Have a spouse who reads your blog (mine doesn’t…ever) to provide another perspective.

Blogging Success Ideas You HAVE Read on Brainzooming and Can Now HEAR!

Relative to blogging success ideas you have seen on the Brainzooming blog, you now have a chance to HEAR them as well. I was very excited to be a guest for the first SmallBusinessTalent.com podcast episode. During an interview with the host (and loyal Brainzooming fan) Stephen Lahey, we discussed a variety of ways to make sure a blog makes sense and produces results. It was a very fast paced discussion, and I invite you to listen to the podcast on Stephen’s website, SmallBusinessTalent.com.

You Have to Find What Blogging Success Ideas Work for Your Organization

Ultimately, determining your own content strategy and audience building efforts must make sense for you and your organization’s overall objectives. That’s why there are so many different blogs and so many varied ways of approaching them. – Mike Brown

 

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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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