Implementation | The Brainzooming Group - Part 116 – page 116
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We’re big believers in strong connections between strategy and creative work. It’s been a topic on the blog, and it’s a key component of the strategic thinking workshops I conduct.

Strategy and Creative Work Passing in the Daylight

Strategy-CreativeI was talking recently with someone involved on a team creating a response for a customer inquiry. For various reasons, team members building the strategy for the response worked separately from those addressing the creative elements. Since the strategy people and the creative people were working one after the other, instead of together, a variety of late in the process issues developed.

As the person sharing the story related it, some issues were addressed successfully, many were addressed in a compromised fashion, and some were never addressed in an integrated way.

Eeeek!

5 Reasons Strategy and Creative Work Must Be Integrated

Listening to this person’s frustration prompts these five reasons it’s vital for strategy and creative work to be integrated. In this example, all five reasons contributed to falling short in creating an optimal response.

When a strategy and creative team are working together . . .

1. The creative team can do initial design with an integrated view of the end product

Without knowing key decisions the strategy team was making over the course of a week, the creative team sat idle awaiting input. By the time creative team members received the nearly final content, team members were behind the gun to get the creative design turned around with adequate review time to meet the deadline.

2. It allows the strategy team to efficiently deliver direction and content

The strategy team didn’t understand the final format the creative team was creating. As a result, they threw “stuff” over the wall to the creative team in ways that made sense from a strategic standpoint. What was convenient for the strategy team wasn’t optimal for the creative team, unfortunately, since the divided team didn’t talk throughout the development process.

3. Clarifying questions from the creative team can be placed in context

As the work moved into creative development, the creative team asked for more input from the strategy team. Because strategy team members lacked a frame of reference, they viewed the request as too encompassing for the time available. The result was the strategy team passed on sharing additional information. After the fact, strategy team members discovered they had over-estimated what the creative team was asking for in the request, creating a gap that went unaddressed.

4. It keeps creative team members from guessing when needing to fill last minute blanks

No matter how well a process is planned and managed, there will be last minute details and gaps to be filled. In this case, because the strategy and creative teams were disconnected, the creative team wound up filling last minute blanks without sufficient input. Some blanks were filled appropriately; others weren’t.

5. The creative team won’t leave out important things because they don’t fit the design

The strategy team had made decisions about the customer response’s positioning and compelling support points to reinforce the recommendation. Lacking visibility to the decisions or a strategic understanding why it received some of the content, the creative team varied the positioning and left out significant detail behind the support points. Why? The content didn’t fit the design and creative direction developed in isolation.

Sounds like a cluster? That’s why strategy and creative efforts need to be integrated.

As a former associate used to say, “This wasn’t open heart surgery. No one died.”

That’s certainly true in this case, but the disconnect between the strategy and creative teams created a needlessly under-optimized business result. That’s just one reason why when we’re conducting a live strategy, business performance, or innovation workshop for a client, we push for having both strategic and creative team members included.

You can’t have one or the other group represented and expect the most successful result.

Are you with us on how imperative it is to connect strategy and creative work? What do you do to make sure it happens as successfully as possible? – Mike Brown

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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

Hang on with me as we slam together a couple of apparently random experiences this week. Trust me; we’ll wind up with a strategic lesson here.

Instigating a Strategic Lesson

Salt-WordA reading at morning mass this week from the Gospel of John involved Jesus talking about the apostles being “in the world” but not “of” the world. The point is since His followers should focus on the importance of a heavenly reward, time in this world needs to be marked by a sense of detachment. While human functioning, making a living, and being of service to others are important, the expectation is to resist becoming overly enamored with things (in particular) that belong to this world since they are fleeting relative to eternity.

This may seem a simple enough statement, but the world beckons so strongly with so many attractive diversions – both good and (many) bad – that it’s an incredibly challenging call to live out successfully.

Another Version of the Strategic Lesson

My trainer recently had me begin using myfitnesspal, a weight and fitness monitoring app. I whined like crazy, but within days, the accountability of logging all my exercise and everything I ate changed my behavior dramatically. Seeing the numbers behind my eating caused me to cut down on snacking, especially late at night when I am writing.

One number that surprises me daily is the outrageous amount of sodium in pre-prepared foods.

One day I had a partial order of leftover Chinese food for lunch, munched an appetizer at a happy hour meeting, and ate a sandwich based on a recipe from my family’s former restaurant that my wife made for dinner. When everything was plugged into myfitnesspal, my daily sodium intake was nearly double the recommended amount. The surprising thing about my huge sodium intake is I pick up a salt shaker once a year – maybe.  I don’t add salt to food.

Slamming Two Experiences Together

If you had asked me before myfitnesspal, I’d have confidently told you I was “IN but not OF a salt-filled world.”

My gigantic sodium number tells a very different story tough.

It’s clear that through uninformed and lackadaisical decision making about what I eat daily, there is way too much sodium in my diet. What has seemed harmless or not even an issue is, I now realize, something harmful.

And the Strategic Lesson Is?

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to decide what you plan to do to build your business.

It seems even easier though, to pursue other enticing (potentially overhyped) possibilities that promise to build your business – but not directly and not right away.

In my case, these activities include creating content in lots of venues, exploring intriguing possibilities, and putting additional time into opportunities that once seemed promising. They all tend to be about reaching a new / different / bigger audience that SHOULD yield even greater success than the same old audience.

Absent some way to measure and monitor how much time, energy, and effort is going into all these enticing activities relative to the solid activities to build a business however, you can get away completely from what matters for your business.

The cumulative impact is you wind up being not just in a world of overhyped possibilities, but spending most of your available time on them.

When we started The Brainzooming Group, I sketched out a decision making hierarchy for ranking and narrowing promising but more speculative activities. Because of my interest in trying new things and challenges in saying “No,” that decision hierarchy is still in a long-ago shelved notebook.

So the strategic lesson from these random events this week is it’s time to actually apply the decision making hierarchy and stick to it.

How about you? Can you benefit from this strategic lesson in your business?

By the way, thanks for hanging on with me to get here. – Mike Brown

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

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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3

Alex-Knapp-LunchIf you follow the @Brainzooming account on Twitter when I’m live tweeting a luncheon with someone incredibly tweetable, don’t be surprised to be inundated with forty or fifty tweets (sorry!).

That’s exactly what happened when Alex Knapp, Social Media Editor and staff writer at Forbes, headlined this month’s Social Media Club of Kansas City lunch talking about the intersection of publishing and social media strategy.

For those who don’t follow @Brainzooming on Twitter, here via reformatted tweets and paraquotes, are just a few of the social media strategy insights Alex Knapp shared.

Mistakes Publishers (and others) Make with Social Media Strategy

According to Knapp, the biggest mistake publishers make is thinking there is something new in social media. Publishing changes based on the platform, and the only thing that changes over time is the type of content you put on each one. The challenge (and opportunity) with social media is that it is communicating, engagement, and marketing all at once.

Social Media Talents

Social media requires multiple abilities from someone in a short time in a small space. Many publishers (and other types of companies) make the mistake of picking people with only one talent who then struggle. Among the many skills needed to be great at social media, headline writing is THE social media skill.

Alex Knapp proposed a thought experiment: You have two people, one of whom you can hire to do social media for a publication. Do you pick someone who is early in a business career and all over Twitter or someone more senior with lots of work experience and no clue about Twitter? Knapp advises picking the more experienced person since it’s possible to train someone on Twitter in an hour. Training someone who understands social media to write well, think better, and market more effectively? Well, that takes considerably longer than an hour.

Not Every Social Network Should Have Identical Content

When it comes to taking the best advantage of varied content across channels, Knapp pointed out a great example from the world of publishing to illustrate his point: The New York Times wouldn’t run an arts story on the sports page unless it had a very specific sports angle. Given that, why would an organization run the exact same story at the exact same time on very different social media platforms?

Similar to how we covered Mall of America featuring different content by social network, Knapp shared that at Forbes, Google+ is for tech news, LinkedIn is for startup news, and there are twelve different topic-oriented Twitter feeds, some of which have come and gone over time based on what’s working. Ultimately the goal for each platform (which may have much larger readership than a publication’s paid subscriber base) shapes how a brand approaches it.

When faced with too many social media options and not enough time to go around, Knapp recommends to start where a brand has its biggest audience and focus there. He also advises against the common idea of not putting resources toward social media because it’s free. He asked why a brand WOULDN’T want to put resources toward something that was free and worked vs. paying money for marketing efforts that cost a lot and are difficult to track.

Social Media Strategy Fundamentals

  • Social media is the industrialization of word of mouth, so it’s vital to make sure social content is easily shared.
  • If you have great content that’s working, run it again, adding variety to how you feature it. He suggested pulling out a quote (because people love quotes), trying an alternative headline, or featuring a specific item from a longer list.
  • Invite and reward engagement with personalities, content, and readers themselves (i.e., readers whose content and comments are featured will turn around and share it with others). It’s vital to show you are listening to social media exchanges and are able to engage your audience.
  • Data from multiple sources helps determine the effectiveness of social media efforts. Social data sources may disagree, so you have to compare and contrast them. Knapp points out that Google Analytics doesn’t provide accurate information on Facebook traffic.
  • Run analyses as often as possible (or as makes sense), measuring to the extent the results will drive change in what you are doing. While you’re measuring, look beyond the top clicks and shares. If you avoid going deeper or looking at alternative views, you’ll miss other valuable insights.
  • Don’t get caught up in your own preferences. If readers love something you do, even if you hate it, keep doing it anyway.

Social Media at Forbes

There is a 3-person core social media team at Forbes. Their efforts are complemented by many, many freelance bloggers who are paid (very well according to Alex) based on the hits on their blog posts. (Hey, Alex, where do I apply?)  – Mike Brown

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

 

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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4

ideaprintThis month’s #Ideachat (organized by Angela Dunn on Twitter) was guest hosted by author Jennifer Louden and focused on the extent to which people either claim or hide borrowing ideas from others. Jumping in late, the group was addressing topics such as the impact on your creativity of others borrowing your creative ideas and whether ideas can be “owned” in this day and age.

On the former topic, my response was it all depends on who borrowed the creative idea, if I wanted them to borrow it, & whether they matched up my ideas or content with other people. If they put me in good company, that can be quite a kick.

If you’re really intent on getting something done and think you have a creative idea to realize positive change, the best thing that can happen is others claiming ownership of your ideas. Maybe you accomplish this by being obvious and blatantly saying, “Here, TAKE MY IDEA!” Often though, you have to be much more subtle and kind of leave your creative idea “mentally” laying around for others to find and claim . . . much like they might pick a coin up off the ground and consider it found money.

Leave Your Ideaprints on a Creative Idea

As the #Ideachat group discussed idea ownership, my response was that in the world of social media, it seems you own an idea by being able to point to your first use and predominant sharing of it. I cited Joe Pulizzi and content marketing as a prime example. Joe put a term to the concept, developed it, and shared it for others to expand upon it. What was important was it was readily apparent Joe Pulizzi was the first person everyone remembers talking about content marketing as an idea.

As I tweeted during #Ideachat, when you put an idea out there for others to use, it’s a good idea to leave your “ideaprints” all over it, just as Joe did.

Just like finerprints, ideaprints are indicators you had your brain all over an idea before releasing it into the world. Maybe the idea was yours originally. Maybe you adapted the idea from something else. Either way, if you’ve added value to an idea, your ideaprints signal your brain touched the idea somewhere (ideally early) in its life.

I’m sure Seth Godin has written about something like ideaprints, and there’s a marketing company using the name, but here some ideas for how to place your ideaprints on an idea:

  1. Secure the typical and appropriate legal protections available – copyright, trademark, patent
  2. Develop a unique or at least distinctive name to describe the idea
  3. Frequently use the distinctive name you created online and in other places
  4. Develop your idea into a more fully fledged concept
  5. Author a great deal of content about the idea that continues to expand on, describe, and make it more usable by others
  6. Make it easy for others to advance the idea whether in total or in part
  7. Create an organization that embodies your idea
  8. Cultivate a group of people who will point back to you when others ask them where they heard of the idea
  9. License the idea to others

There are definitely more ways to leave ideaprints, but amid our #Ideachat conversation, those were the first ones that came to mind.

Making It Obvious Your Brain Was All Over a Creative Idea

I think being adept at leaving ideaprints on your most important ideas is an important skill to hone.

One of the last #Ideachat topics covered whether challenges in attributing ideas in the 21st century will lead to more or less creativity. My answer was it depends on the attitude people have toward ideas. People who spend their time chasing down others to protect their ideas will spend a lot less time on generating ideas and a disproportionate amount of time on idea protection.

Far better to spend much of your time coming up with ideas, a little time being more obvious with your ideaprints, and most of your time making things happen with your ideas – whether it’s you or others doing big things with them! – Mike Brown

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

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

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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9

Words-You-UseA radio ad I used to hear all the time said, “The words you use matter.”

That is true for people, and it is especially true when you are figuring out how to brand a company. The brand language you strategically choose to describe what you do and how you do it sets the stage for both employees’ and customers’ expectations and satisfaction with your brand.

What types of brand language should you be using as you brand a company?

Seven Types of Brand Language You Should Use

As you develop (or refine) the brand language you are using, be on the lookout for each of these seven types of brand language to make sure you use words that are:

1. Simple

These are the easy to understand words that everyone knows and readily uses in your marketplace.

2. Emotional

The brand language that creates strong impact by tapping into an appropriate range of experience-based emotions.

3. Aspirational

Words that convey the hopes and dreams of employees, customers, and other stakeholders interacting with your company.

4. Unusual

Distinctive words whose less frequent use makes them stick out and become more memorable.

5. Connectable

These types of words readily pair up with other words, word parts, or phrases to create new and distinctive brand language.

6. Open

Brand language that brings depth to the brand because it can mean multiple things or apply in a variety of situations.

7. Twistable

Words you can use in varied ways and forms.

Pay Attention to Brand Language when Deciding How to Brand a Company

When devising your strategy for how to brand a company, don’t overlook the brand language. You can leave the selection of brand language to chance, accident, or time. Making solid brand strategy decisions on brand language, however, helps make sure the words you use not only matter, but also work as hard to benefit your brand as possible. – Mike Brown

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

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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1

Creative-Ideas-EnemiesThe June 2013 issue of Psychology Today includes an article on “The Enemies of Invention.”

It is a compilation article featuring five authors’ perspectives on factors standing in the way of creativity and innovation.

The article also includes creative ideas from each author on how to get around these impediments to creativity.

Creative Ideas for Defeating “Enemies of Invention”

Here are snapshots of each of the five authors’ perspectives, along with our Brainzooming point of view on these creative ideas:

1. The Danger of Starting in the Same Old Place by Art Markum

“Don’t think differently. Think about different things.” 

The point is when we start from the same frame of reference as the creative challenge we face, we come up with run-of-the-mill ideas. Instead, we have to begin by thinking about other things from different perspectives. Brainzooming Article: What’s It Like?

2. Fear of Failure Narrows Vision by Peter Gray

We “work best when we are playing, not when we are striving for praise as a reward.” 

To be creative, don’t be so serious so much! Have some fun and play! Brainzooming Article: Kids and Creativity

3. Concentration Is Creativity’s Killer by Sian Beilock

 “Turning your attention to something that requires just a little bit of concentration is a better way to jump-start the creative process.” 

Don’t concentrate so much on the task at hand. To instigate your creative possibilities, free up space in your mind to let your creativity work. Brainzooming Article: Finding a Huge Task to Avoid

4. The Downside of Avoiding Imitation by Christopher J. Sprigman and Kal Raustiala

“In practice, creativity is a cumulative process, one that often involves tweaking, adapting, and melding existing creations.” 

As we say so often, borrow existing ideas and twist them into new creative ideas all your own. Brainzooming Article: Lessons in Borrowing Creative Ideas

5. Battling Boredom Thwarts Serendipity by Peter Bregman

“Wasted moments are ones in which we often unconsciously connect the dots.” 

Resist the temptation to fill your head and attention with stuff that gets in the way of creativity. You’ll be much better off if you pursue empty-headed creativity! Brainzooming Article: Perhaps not surprisingly, we don’t have an article on doing nothing as a way to spur creativity. We’ll have to get on that right away!  – Mike Brown

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

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

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

MOA-FacebookI was writing a story for The Social Media Monthly magazine recently on the Mall of America and its social media strategy. In the course of interviewing Mall of America Senior Public Relations and Social Media Manager, Bridget Jewell, she discussed how the Mall introduced each of its social media presences based on a specific opportunity or seasonal campaign. Instead of immediately hopping on every new social network right away, MOA creates a presence when there’s a clear business reason to do so.

Not surprisingly then, as Bridget reviewed the content strategies and specific content media shared by channel, each had a different purpose. While its multiple social media presences are brand consistent and integrated, the Mall of America Twitter and Facebook sites are used differently (i.e., not simply sharing the same links), and Instagram isn’t simply for sharing photos from MOA YouTube videos.

Can you answer these 5 social media strategy questions as well as Mall of America can?

Taking a cue from the smart social media strategy at MOA, here are five questions any organization should ask about its own social media content strategy:

  1. In what ways is our content well-suited to the specific social media network and our current and prospective users on each of them?
  2. How is our content across the channels integrated and collectively representative of our brand?
  3. How does our social media content vary across our different platforms?
  4. What is included in our social media content to move the audience toward progressively beneficial behaviors for our organization?
  5. What do we incorporate into our social media content that makes it worth remembering, sharing with others, and returning to in the future?

All five are very rich strategic questions. That means you need to be able to provide strategically rich answers.

Need some ideas for your social media strategy?

If you want to go to school on an organization doing it right to get a sense of how these questions should be answered, check out the varied social media presences for MOA. You’ll learn a lot – trust me. – Mike Brown

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

 

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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