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Last week, we successfully introduced a strategic integrated marketing communications plan for a B2B client that had traditionally viewed marketing as the “brochure and trade show” department. Beyond delivering a plan stretching and updating its marketing strategy to drive better business results, The Brainzooming Group helped position the day-to-day marketing communications leader as a more strategic partner within marketing and the broader organization.

The strategic plan was the result of solid analytical work and an innovative look at how our client can more simply and effectively deliver its message to target audiences. Success with the plan’s ultimate delivery to both our client’s president and a 25-person audience also came from in-depth strategizing and implementation.

If you have a big presentation to deliver, here are 8 tactics in our presentation strategy you can use to be more successful as well:

  • Write down 3 to 5 objectives you want to achieve with each audience. We had strategic objectives identified for the large audience, the project sponsors, our day-to-day client, and the president. These lists helped ensure the right strategic information was communicated in each presentation.
  • Share what you’re going to cover with key audience members beforehand. You don’t want to surprise someone with a new strategy, causing them to react negatively and derail the overall strategy you’re trying to deliver.
  • Allow time for multiple iterations of the presentation. The actual Powerpoint itself was nothing dramatic creatively; there was maybe one build slide, and more text on the slides than any of us wanted. Still there were probably 15 different versions of the presentation in the past week as we made ongoing refinements to focus the message, leaving details for the written plan.
  • Be a ruthless editor. Two words: Fewer slides.
  • Have somebody with fresh eyes look at the presentation. When you’ve been through multiple versions, it’s really easy to start missing what should be apparent gaps. Have a team member more removed from the document’s preparation go through it in detail to spot issues.
  • Orchestrate how the meeting should end. Our client talked with the president and asked him to do the wrap-up for the presentation. We gave him notes which he modified to fit his strategic view, and he delivered a great message reinforcing the strategic role marketing communications should hold.
  • Test the set up the day before. Run through the AV setup the day before, when there are no time pressures. While you’re at it, identify the AV person who can be available well before your presentation to make sure everything works when it has to work the next day.
  • Work hard to end the presentation early. Even if you wind up booking a little more time than you expect you’ll need, make a deliberate attempt to end early, a strategy which always sends people off on a little more positive note.

Did you notice something? Seven, although arguably all eight, of these activities happen before the presentation. I didn’t create the list that way deliberately, but it underscores the strategic importance of preparing for a successful presentation. – 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.  To learn how we can bring out the best innovative thinking in your team email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320.

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

When preparing for a job interview, don’t forget there are really two interviews going on. You need to be assessing the potential employer both organizationally and personally as well. It’s critical then to invest time developing your strategy for interviewing your prospective employer:

  • Create a list of questions you’ll ask. Review who you’ll be talking with and have a strategy for each individual’s targeted questions. If you interview people as an employer, look through the questions you use that may be particularly fruitful when adapted for use on the other side of the hiring table. Ask probing, challenging questions, particularly when meeting a company’s senior executives.
  • Look for informal situations in which to interact. Take advantage of any opportunity to meet others in the company outside of the formal interview times. Ask questions about what they enjoy about the company, what it’s like to work there, and why they joined originally.
  • Observe everything. No detail is too small; try to notice and analyze everything taking place. How do people interact? What are their verbal and non-verbal reactions to one another? Who asks if you’d like something to drink, and who ultimately goes to get it? Every part of your experience is input to consider.

The importance of having your own interview strategy was evident on a job interview I went on in the past few years. It was a group interview with four members of a company’s executive team for a CMO position. Really more of a conversation than an interview, there were lots of questions about my employer and my thoughts on the strategic situation for the prospective company.

One thing I noticed early on was while they said they wanted a strategic marketer, every time they mentioned marketing, they might as well have hand-signaled double quotes around the word. Strategic marketing was clearly viewed as a foreign concept. Along the way, there were a couple of shots taken at the rigor of stock analysts because they’re “ANALytical.” All of these were important clues.

Finally, the CEO said let’s turn the tables and invited me to ask questions. I pulled out my 5-page list saying, “I AM a research guy.”

Among the first questions was one shaped by the job spec the recruiter supplied. The background material talked in depth about what a close unit the senior management team was, how the members were argumentative, but supportive, and how the new strategic marketer would have to fit the group’s working culture. I asked them, obviously enough, what type of person would come in and be successful working with this tight-knit group.

The CFO began the multi-person response:

“A 21-year old girl…with a stripper background…who likes to do special projects.”

Yes, take a moment. As incredible as it sounds, that is word for word how they answered the question.

I looked at one of the two lawyers in the room who had been identified as taking over the HR function and asked him, “So are you in charge of HR yet?” There weren’t many questions that needed to be asked after that.

It’s not as if the killer question I asked was complex. It was strategic though and targeted at whether the working relationship at this company was going to work. Obviously, the answer was no.

I feel sorry for the person who wound up with this job, if it indeed got filled, because they clearly didn’t uncover, among other business issues, the very superficial regard this company holds for strategic marketing.

All I can say is I was at least thankful for their honesty. – 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.  To learn how we can develop the best strategic marketing plan for your business, email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320.

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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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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