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In just a few weeks (September 26 through 29), the annual American Marketing Association Marketing Research Conference will unfold in Atlanta. For the second year, I’ll be chairing the conference whose theme is “Unfiltered Perspectives. Unexpected Opportunities.”

We’ve once again designed an overall conference experience intended to challenge market researchers to look beyond our typical roles and responsibilities to really consider what it takes to contribute meaningfully to business – right now and in the future.

Among the exciting elements which make the AMA Marketing Research Conference unmatchable:

  • The conference committee, made up of research veterans, is personally involved in recruiting all the speakers. This ensures the 35 interactive educational sessions deliver meaningful content tied to the conference’s strategic theme.
  • There’s an incredible line up of smart, strategic business leaders speaking, including many who have been featured in Brainzooming before. These include Gary Singer of Buyology, Joe Batista of HP, and author Kelley Styring of Insight Farm.
  • Our conference-in-a-conference format allows attendees to target specific learning agendas, including advanced research techniques, case studies, research tools, and unconference sessions where attendees can actively shape the content.
  • An active social media team will document the entire conference to allow attendees to learn even from sessions they don’t attend. The team will be coordinated by Nate Riggs of Social Business Strategies (who has been working with The Brainzooming Group on various social media strategic implementations).

As one person described it, this is the marketing research conference that market researchers put on for themselves.

One of the best parts of last year’s conference was feedback from the audience that the event builds a true sense of community within the diverse group of market researchers who attended the event (including a researcher from Russia who decided to attend in the last few days before the conference). We’ll do the same this year, so if you’re involved in market research, you owe it to yourself to attend.

Download the most current, in-depth version of the conference brochure today and review more details on the conference at the American Marketing Association website.

As a Brainzooming reader, you’ll receive $100 off registration by calling 1-800-262-1150 and using the promo code “VIP” when you register.

Join us in Atlanta, September 26 through 29th. It will be an unparalleled experience in your career!Mike Brown


When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

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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Twice in the last few weeks, a big time “verified account” Twitter rock star expressed disillusionment over social media because….THEY WEREN’T BEING HEARD!

In @Scobleizer’s case it was because no one had responded to a tweet telling them their Twitter feeds should be geocoded, as his is. In the case of @leolaporte, it related to his blog post expressing disillusionment that his Google Buzz messages had gone missing for days without anyone noticing.

So all of a sudden two guys who both have orders of magnitude more followers than people they’re following (more than 6x for @Scobleizer and 165x for @leolaporte) experience varying degrees of social media-related existential angst because no one was listening to THEM?

As my grandfather used to say, “Poor baby!”

Just because these guys get a taste of what social media is like for lots of people trying to find the right content to share with the right audience, with no guarantees of how well they’ll do in meeting audience needs and getting people to respond and engage in conversations on meaningful content…just because they experience it, they’re ready to cry foul or maybe even ready to declare the social media party is over?

As Steve Martin used to say, “Well, excuuuuuuuuusssssse ME!”

Hey guys – go find a sympathetic audience someplace else. Even adulation for rock stars fades when audience interests wane. Maybe it’s time for a comeback? Or time to reinvent yourselves? Or maybe go back to playing the small, intimate venues all the budding social media rock stars do while trying to get a break so they can be heard too. - 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 strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your market opportunities.

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’d been looking forward all last week to a Saturday night event at the KC Artists Coalition. Peregrine Honig, the Kansas City artist who appeared on the Bravo reality hit “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” was speaking about her work and experiences as a finalist on the show.

I tweeted about the event several times during the week. On Saturday, I re-checked the website a couple of hours before the live event to confirm the address and learned an RSVP was now required. Calling the KCAC, they said the event was overbooked and no more RSVPs were being accepted. Hanging up disappointed, I got on Tweetdeck and set up a search on @PeregrineHonig and #KCAC to track the commentary via social media. Checking in during the event, I was, however, surprised to see no one was live tweeting. Disappointment #2.

When they told me I couldn’t attend, it never occurred to me to tell the person on the phone I planned to create social media content (i.e., live tweet and blog about the presentation), providing additional exposure for the artist, the event, and KCAC. I’d already done one blog post about “Work of Art,” on the TalentCulture blog. Yet even if I had told them of my live tweeting and social media content plans, what was there to make them believe me (especially over the phone) or to prove my intentions? If you’re part of the official press, you have a press card or other documentation to back up your qualifications. With these you can gain access even to overbooked art studio events.

Here’s the question: Is there something equivalent to a press pass for those of us “reporting” content via social media?

If there is, where do you get it? And if there isn’t, it sure seems as if there should be.

I’m not looking for special treatment, but a live event social media specialist (translation – somebody who is going to live tweet and blog) not getting access to an event has a bigger negative impact than if most people who attended Saturday night and didn’t share their perspectives via social media had been sitting at home. – Mike Brown

When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

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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Even among people signed up on Twitter, you see questions about Twitter’s value and what Twitter is good for strategically. Many times these questions come from people who are still using Twitter at Twitter.com and haven’t gravitated toward a more robust application such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.

As a Tweetdeck user, here are 5 columns set up in Tweetdeck which increase the networking value Twitter provides:

“Conversations” – This is a group column that’s continually building as anyone who has tweeted with me, retweeted a post, or I’ve met personally is added. Rather than a dynamic list which ages people off, no one leaves this list because of recent inactivity. It’s a great way to pay special attention to closer connections on Twitter. As I’ve explained to Nate Riggs, to a great extent, this column is my primary RSS feed and signal that friends have published new blog posts.

A Search on Across Twitter Identities – I have a bunch of Twitter identities directly, plus others I help manage. Beyond a Tweetdeck “Mentions” column which shows every time a single identity (i.e. @Brainzooming) is tweeted, this search column brings together mentions across multiple accounts and variations in my name. It’s helpful for seeing what tweets are resonating with others and trying to ensure I notice conversation starters and participate. This column really lights up when one of the Mike Browns out there screws up in sports, or it’s the anniversary of another one screwing up a natural disaster.

Searches for Organization, Event, and Chat Hashtags – Hashtags allow words and phrases to be easily searched in the Twitter world. Having a variety of columns dedicated to organizations (i.e., #smckc, #bmaengage), events (both #amamrc and @amamrc), or Twitter chats (#innochat, #blogchat, etc.) where you’re active helps you stay current on new information and relevant links. It identifies people involved in the same subject areas who may be good people to follow or retweet.

People Who Need Help – There’s a permanent search set up in my Tweetdeck on the phrase “creative block.” Many times a day, people globally tweet their creative frustrations. This column signals people who might benefit from a Brainzooming blog post on beating creative blocks. I tweet them the post’s link to ideally be helpful to them. There are other searches set up on additional topics where there might be blog content to share to assist or answer questions.

Guest Blog Titles – When you guest blog, your Twitter name may or may not appear with the article or in a tweet about it. I have a few columns set up with searches on recent guest posts that both help me learn when a post is published and also indicate which posts are getting read and shared. Again, this can be another great source of new people to follow.

And for even more ideas on tools to help you get more value based on who you follow on Twitter, check out a wonderfully resource-rich post from Nate Riggs.

Are you using any of these columns to gain greater value from Twitter? Are there other columns effective for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments! - 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 strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your market opportunities.

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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Some of the most creative times for me are on planes – time and time again. On a return plane flight this week, I filled up page after page with notes and diagrams of ideas to help shape current projects… plus this blog post:

  • Diversity is great for better thinking, but simply adding a “newer” version of the same person everyone in your group represents isn’t all the diversity you could use.
  • If in an initial conversation someone introduces topic you’d never want to be a part of, it tells you everything you need to know.
  • I had a 90-minute business conversation on this trip that didn’t touch on social media. I’m not sure the last time that happened.
  • When looking at a new situation you don’t see any growth potential or development upside, it tells you everything you need to know.
  • This crowdsourcing thing may really take hold. I saw a passenger correctly tell the Delta gate agent what our reassigned gate was going to be while Delta was still announcing it was waiting for information.
  • Guys that sound like Foghorn Leghorn are, by definition, funny!
  • If you give people enough time and space to talk, honesty will eventually show up. Be watching for it.
  • Planes aren’t creative happy places for everybody. That’s fine, but be sure to know where your creative happy places are and visit them often. - 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 make your strategic thinking and planning more productive, even when you’re not on a plane!

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. In a challenging situation, step back. Remove yourself from the moment. Spot patterns. Take comfort in support that’s not apparent at first glance.

2. If you feel like you’re losing, redefine what winning is so you’re winning. Nobody’s saying you can’t.

3. If most of your instincts tell you something’s pointless, you may want to go ahead, take no for an answer, and run on to better opportunities.

4. If you feel the need to vent, be careful what you share about your situation online. There are times when you write because it helps you work out an idea or an emotion and never publish it.    – 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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Building on yesterday’s post on branding warning signals, in the Brainzooming world view, creativity and creative exploration are integral to developing successful strategy. Yet in the last few years, I’ve run across many marketers gravitating toward incredibly literal – not lateral – thinking.  This may reflect a crappy economy and job market where people want to follow exactly what they’re told or pick the safest path to minimize the perceived risk of being fired for pushing beyond the status quo or implementing a strategy with some room for maneuver (and potential risk) in it.

The real downsides to literal thinking arise in ho-hum strategies and uninspired customers.  It’s my firm belief literal thinking also results in inferior financial performance. Outside of direct marketing strategies, however, it can be tough to demonstrate the financial downside of play-it-safe marketing.

There’s been a recent example on TV though where, at least hypothetically, it’s possible to speculate on the financial impact of less literal and more creatively strategic thinking. There’s just one caveat: I have no idea whether my imagined back-story really happened or not, and that uncertainty is why I don’t do a lot of marketing case studies on Brainzooming. Even though it’s hypothetical, the strategic decision scenario is completely accurate, because I’ve seen too many times where unfortunately it didn’t play out as successfully.

Kentucky Fried Chicken is celebrating its 70th anniversary with a promotional discount offer. A literally-oriented marketer (if they’re at least somewhat strategic), would be thinking about, “What can we do with 70 in a promotion?” 70 pieces of chicken? 70% discount? 70 cents off? None of those really work.

Another number important to KFC is eleven – the number of herbs and spices in its original recipe. Less literal than 70 in the context of this offer, it’s still a strategically and creatively important number for the brand. A literal marketer might get to 11 pieces for $11 because it’s direct and straight-forward. Yet, that’s not the ultimate offer. Instead, it’s 11 pieces of chicken for $11.99. Sure 99 might not be connected to the KFC brand. A strategic, non-literal marketer, however, wouldn’t be stopped by that because adding the 99 cents to the price increases revenue per item by 9%

The real lesson in this hypothetical case study is the right mix of strategic and creative thinking on what’s important to the brand will generate more benefits than the prevalent, “don’t over think, just act” mentality. In this case, it translates to 9% greater revenue per purchase. That’s a great strategic benefit and a strong performance differential in a fear-filled, crappy economy!   - 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 devise a successful innovation strategy for your organization.

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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