10

It’s always helpful when someone calls you on a good intention to make sure you actually follow through on it. When I spoke last month to the Transportation Marketing & Sales Association on social media strategy, the format allowed the audience to select from among 12 topics in the social media framework to customize the presentation to the social media strategy issues most relevant for them. To provide additional background on the social media strategic topics we didn’t talk about, I promised to create a compilation of links that formed the backbone of the presentation’s content. The full compilation has been on my to-do list ever since, and a very kind email from one of the TMSA attendees late last week prompted me to get it done!

My rationalization for the delay? The list now includes several posts written in the last two weeks (after the TMSA conference), including the post on who should create content that’s generated so many rich comments here and nearly 6,000 page views in its first week on the Social Media Today blog as well.

OVERVIEW

STRATEGY

1. Integration

 2. ROI

3. Guidelines

SOCIAL NETWORKING

4. Listening

5. Building Relationships

6. Getting Noticed

INFRASTRUCTURE

7. Platforms

8. Time and Talent

9. Minimizing Risk

SOCIAL BUSINESS

10. Content Marketing

11. Customer Engagement

12. Innovation

 

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 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.


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

Some Monday quick thinking on inspiration, procrastination, and several other frequently touched upon topics on the Brainzooming blog:

Expectations – When you set exceptionally high standards for yourself, you have to stop listening to others who say you’re fine the way you are.

Simplicity – There’s nothing wrong with doing something really simply. It’s usually the absolute best thing, in fact.

Inspiration – It’s fascinating that people who hardly ever write a blog post suddenly have a 1,000 ideas when their blogging platform is down for 24 hours.

Procrastination – Sometimes less is more. Sometimes less just means you started preparing too late.

Self-Perception – When you’re singing your own praises, the threshold for what others consider hyperbole is pretty low. 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 learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

 

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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0

1. Updating every three minutes.

I don’t care what it is or how important you think it is. If you suffer from run-on keyboard-itis, get your fingers over to Twitter and share away.

2. What you’re planning to eat, currently cooking, now eating, or recently ate.

Maybe Google Plus will turn into the personal vehicle Facebook is (probably not any time soon – like until later this week), but in the mean time, if you HAVE TO share a picture of your food, TWITPIC it.

3. Mock Focus Groups

This whole thing about throwing out apparently random questions to get scores of followers to chime in with answers is annoying as hell. Yea, I know it’s nice to do on Google Plus because it’s easy to track, but put a frickin’ hashtag on it and throw the question out to your 200,000 followers on Twitter.

4. Multiple Short Blog Post Fragments

Google Plus isn’t Tumblr (although it’s starting to feel a lot like it). If you want to workshop multiple blog posts, get a Tumblr site and see who you can lure over there to read them.

5. Every Link You Find Interesting

Post intriguing things. Take advantage of the ability to share and elaborate on multimedia content. Use the extra characters to provide some distinct background on what you’re sharing. That’s all wonderful. But PUHLEEZ just don’t share every Google Plus post you think is interesting and add nothing more than “nice,” “cool,” “agree.” Again, take it to Twitter and pound out reaction re-tweets to your heart’s content.

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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8

He spoke to them in parables about the Google+ user experience and only in parables did he speak to them.

“The first days of the Google Plus user experience can be likened to a Midwestern snowstorm.

“The snow appeared as a surprise one night, and the children awoke the next morning to a beautiful blanket of white. With the break of dawn and the snow falling, children burst into the crisp air making the first footprints in the snow. They threw snowballs, constructed snow forts, and built snowmen. As the snow continued falling, everything was clean and beautiful. Yet every child knew that within a day, the temperature would rise, the forts would melt, and the beautiful landscape would turn to muddy sludge.

“To what else can the Google+ user experience be compared? The first weekend of the Google Plus user experience can be likened to receiving an invitation to a party hosted by the most popular children in town.

“For those receiving an invitation, it represented the hope of getting chummy with the popular kids, playing with their unique toys, becoming  real friends, and then lording it over all the children who weren’t invited. Yet when the time for the party came, the guests arrived to find there were no wonderful toys and the popular kids didn’t really want to play with or talk with their guests much. Instead, the popular kids wanted an audience to experience THEM. Guests were allowed to see numerous pictures of the popular kids’ families and the steaks they’d be grilling after the party. The guests were encouraged though to laugh at the jokes the popular kids were making about those they had not invited. Thus the invited guests had sufficient anecdotes they could sensationalize and share with all the children who weren’t invited to convince them they were missing something truly exquisite.

“To what can the first week of the Google+ user experience be compared? It can be likened to a person being transferred to a newly constructed school with a few friends, all the popular kids, and many unknown people who’d been attending still other schools.

“While the new school was clean and spacious (since it would one day hold thousands of times more students), the initial excitement was dampened because so many really close friends were still attending the old neighborhood school. To see those close friends, a person would have to do it before school, after school, or heaven forbid, cut class and miss out on what the popular kids were doing and talking about. So despite all the honor of being present for the first week of Google Plus, students still longed for the faces and books which filled their old schools.”

And to what can the second weekend of the Google+ user experience be compared? We’re about to see. Let the chaos begin.Mike Brown

Note: I couldn’t let any more time go by without weighing in on Google Plus, even if it is a bit tongue-in-cheek. Although based on some of Google celebrating and Facebook bashing going on this week, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone didn’t try to write a “Gospel According to Google.”

For helpful, detailed analysis on Google Plus, check out the work Nate Riggs has done this week to identify tips and how-tos:

 

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 816-509-5320 to learn how we can develop an integrated social media strategy for your brand.

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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5

David Rogers, author of “The Network Is Your Customer” and executive director of the Center on Global Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School, stopped by the Kansas City Public Library last week for a speech on his book and its 5 strategy implications for brands.

Strategy Implications from New Customer Roles

“The Network Is Your Customer” examines how networks connect and change us since individuals can now be viewed as networks themselves. Rogers’ social networking model recognizes the advent of mobile technology in opening a whole new array of brand roles for individuals. These brand roles include (among others) serving as:

One implication of the self-organizing nature of networks is brands should see themselves as situated within a network, but not at its center.

With this fundamental shift, simply adding a Facebook page to a traditional advertising strategy, sharing intermittent content, and getting people to like a brand isn’t sufficient. Fully realizing the opportunity requires rethinking a brand’s business model.

5 Customer Behaviors Requiring Strategy Responses

There are 5 customer behaviors David Rogers calls for brands to strategically address within the “network is your customer” model. He covers the 5 strategies in the video below:

1. Access – Provide the network with easy, flexible, and quick interaction on network members’ own schedules.

2. Engage – The interruption model advertising uses isn’t resonating anymore. Every company needs to think and act as a media company by creating compelling, attractive content.

3. Customize – How do you deliver an incredible number of choices – both virtual (gaming, Pandora) and physical (Starbucks design your Signature drink, Amazon) – so consumers can dial in their wants and needs?

4. Connect – Listen and interact in the marketplace with audience members by responding (@Comcast Cares), providing forums for conversation, and inviting ideas from outside the company (Dell).

5. Collaborate – Open contributions (the 100 million hours behind Wikipedia), open competition (Innocentive), and open platforms (the iApp marketplace) are all examples of new models of creation-oriented collaboration between brands and audiences.

David Rogers advises brands to not start with technology (since it will always be changing and developing), but instead to begin with understanding what the organization wants to achieve.

When asked who does all five of them well, David Rogers pointed to Dell and the 2008 Obama campaign. Getting a handle on the 5 behaviors can be overwhelming for companies, but the best brands are figuring out how they can help customers carry out these desired behaviors.

My 3 Walk-Away Ideas

I discovered the David Rogers talk via the Social Media Club of Kansas City, but it was decidedly NOT a typical local social media crowd. There was very little live tweeting, other than my tweets. This fact was interestingly pointed out to David Rogers during the Q&A section by an individual who just happened to be sitting next to me – unbeknownst to him. He reported the number of live tweeters and wondered aloud whether this “Brainzooming person” was an intense introvert (huh?).

Amid my many tweets on what David Rogers shared, I managed a few reflections on ideas triggered for me by his remarks:

  • Amazon is a great example that where the virtual and physical worlds touch, density is still important.
  • Maybe the push for brands to create great content will lead to a radical re-imagination of the original soap opera model?
  • The move from physical to virtual (seen most especially in content) will dramatically extend to services and other products too as apps change how services and goods are created, delivered, and maintained, and replenished.

It was definitely a worthwhile and thought provoking trip downtown! – 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 816-509-5320 to learn how we can develop an integrated social media strategy for your brand.

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

After yesterday’s post on low-priced, part-time competitors wrapped, I was searching Sunday for a reality TV program marathon to supply potential blog content on strategy or creativity. I watched several hours of a “Pawn Stars” marathon on the History Channel and got a big dose of pricing negotiating strategy lessons. Thanks to frequent promos, I learned this reality TV show about a Las Vegas pawn shop run by Rick Harrison and his family is the number one show on cable TV. Who knew?

“Pawn Stars” focuses only on a relatively narrow slice of activity – the part that fits with History Channel themes. There are hardly any pawns (all but one transaction involved people selling merchandise), and every transaction revolves around an item of real or alleged historical or cultural interest. Imagine the PBS series “Antique’s Roadshow” with dickering and cash actually changing hands.

There were a variety of negotiating strategy lessons applicable to yesterday’s post (a freelancer negotiating for market prices against a low-priced competitor) and to readers using negotiations to establish price points for their work (us included). Here are five negotiations lessons which stood out:

1. Having trusted experts at your disposal makes you a stronger negotiator.

With so many merchandise categories (i.e., jukeboxes, historical films, Revolutionary War bonds, 500-year old armaments, nearly-new semi-tractors), Rick consults multiple experts for insight, corroboration, and pricing opinions. He’s open about these experts, and typically has them share their perspectives directly in front of the seller. Beyond appraisal experts, Rick’s restoration specialist (Rick Dale, who also has a History Channel show) can apparently rehab any item. Having a “turnaround person” on the team allows for more timely and aggressive negotiations.

Negotiating Strategy Question: Are you trying to go it alone in pricing negotiations without the right experts around you to help you be more effective?

2. Before negotiating, know what matters for your organization and critical decision making rules of thumb. Don’t veer from them.

Rick and  his father, “The Old Man,” are adamant about making money on everything they buy. Since the  pawn shop functions as a wholesaler when buying merchandise, the Harrisons target a 25-30% margin on each item for overhead and profit. Clearly knowing what matters and their profit objectives, much of the pricing negotiation becomes relatively simple mathematics. The rest is keeping emotions in check and improving the odds of success by being a conservative negotiator. That means being willing to say no to merchandise (or clients, sales, projects) you may really want that don’t make sense.

Negotiating Strategy Question: Do you know what matters for your organization, and how often do you walk away from deals where the fundamentals aren’t good for you?

3. When someone says, “Lots of people think this about that,” call B.S. on them. Immediately.

Many a person comes into Rick’s pawn shop saying other people told them their items are worth lots of money. Rick’s response is, “Did any of those people offer to buy it for that much?” The answer is always no. When people are throwing generic, non-attributed opinions into a negotiation (be they about cost, ease of completion, ability of others besides you to perform the work. etc.), ask them straight up, “Are any of the people acting on what they think?”

Negotiating Strategy Question: How often do you stand up to a potential client and call B.S. – even if in a nice way?

4. Start by asking question to make the other party go first.

Once the initial information gathering discussion appears done, Rick and his family seem to use a standard kickoff to negotiations. They ask what the person wants to do (pawn or sell), and what the individual wants to get for the merchandise. Asking the first question puts Rick Harrison in control of pricing negotiations and sustains the information gathering. Finding out whether the seller has a price in mind (and how it was arrived at) reveals further insights on their research and knowledge level.

Negotiating Strategy Question: Do you have a first negotiating question, and are you asking it so the other person talks first?

5. Use a wide variety of reactions during negotiations.

If there are patterns in how Rick Harrison responds during price negotiations, they’re tough to discern (even after getting the perspectives he shares in off-the-floor interview snippets). During negotiations, Rick flattered, stalled, offered excuses (for why he couldn’t pay more), laughed, did nothing, said nothing, stipulated caveats, and counter-offered. Only once did he accept a first offer (paying $80 for a 1960’s shortwave radio he thought was very fairly priced) or go first in the negotiation (making an offer for a Revolutionary War bond engraved by Paul Revere, Jr.).

Negotiating Strategy Question: Have you consciously developed a whole variety of reactions you use during negotiations?

Wrap-Up Lessons

Those were my take-aways from the “Pawn Shop” marathon. Have you watched the show? If you have, what negotiating lessons have you learned? Or what negotiating tactics have you seen that work well? – 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 learn how we can help you enhance your brand 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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4

On Twitter recently, a full-time freelancer complained about a part-time freelancer, who also has a full-time job, using a strategy of undercutting the market with overly low-priced proposals for creative projects. She complained that part-time competitors’ pricing strategies were unfairly bringing down client perceptions of market prices.

In any business, competitors in related markets can enter “your” space as an add-on strategy to what they do. Since what you do isn’t a core market for them, they’re often operating from different cost structures and commitments to the market. They may be quite willing to implement low-priced strategies to grab market share at the expense of traditional competitors.

Back in my corporate position in business-to-business transportation, we endured more than a decade of UPS and FedEx, much larger competitors in adjacent markets, serving a large, profitable portion of our market  through implementing new pricing strategies. Our company, tied down by various real and perceived roadblocks, never delivered a shot across the bow to let UPS and FedEx know they weren’t welcome in our market. Ironically, both competitors eventually entered the market using a more traditional strategy with some successes, but many challenges.

9 Strategy Ideas You Could Try

If part-time competitors are wreaking havoc in your market with low-priced products and services, here are 9 strategy ideas to protect your overall competitive position and make it harder for them to compete:

1. Identify where you can be a part-time player, employing a strategy to disrupt that market and grow your business.

2. Dramatically change your processes and cost structure to compete at a lower price.

3. Since your core market is your full-time focus, compete through some combination of greater responsiveness, sharper focus, being smarter about what you do, offering better quality, and/or providing better overall value.

4. Offer more options as a way to showcase your specialization.

5. Provide questions a potential customer should ask and get answered to ensure a low priced part-timer is a legitimate provider.

6. Offer an introductory promotional price in exchange for a longer-term commitment.

7. Develop other revenue streams which subsidize your primary market.

8. Buy and re-sell the part timer’s service to more price-sensitive customers.

9. Offer a satisfaction guarantee on the part-time competitor’s work. If a customer isn’t happy with the part-timers work, offer a discount to “fix” it.

What Are Your Strategy Ideas?

Are you facing low-priced, part-time competitors? What strategy ideas  are working or not working for you in dealing with them? – 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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