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This afternoon, I’m leading a three-hour Brainzooming workshop on creating branded content marketing at the Social Media Strategy Summit in Chicago. While it’s nice to be able to stretch with more time (typically these content marketing workshops are two hours at the Social Media Strategy Summit), I still feel as if there will be a lot of material that we won’t have time to fully cover.

Chicago-Image

In the branded content marketing workshop, we’ll look at generating appropriately branded content from multiple directions.

As a resource if this area is something you are struggling with in your organization, here are links to some of the topics on branded content marketing we’ll cover . . . and some that we won’t:

Taking an Audience-First Perspective

Staying True to Your Brand without Overdoing It

Experience and Interaction-Based Content for Your Brand

Expanding Brand-Related Content Options

Coming at your branded content marketing from these four different directions will open up all kinds of new possibilities.

Here’s the intriguing thing: having rearranged the content into these four groups (which don’t sync with the seven lessons in the workshop as it stands right now), I’m thinking (as I write this over the preceding weekend) that I’m going to rearrange the entire branded content marketing workshop. That’s how much I like this approach!  – Mike Brown

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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 debuted a presentation on “Results – Creating Strategic Impact,” our mini-book on employee engagement ideas to boost an organization’s strategic thinking. The mini-book focuses on the tremendous value when an organization finds ways to strategically solicit employee insights and perspectives to shape its strategic thinking.

Results-Presentation

One attendee stuck around after the “Results” presentation to ask about a situation his son is facing. He runs a restaurant whose employees are generally high-turnover, lower wage young people. He said his son needs to improve the restaurant’s performance and wants to involve the employees. The question was whether it makes sense to try and engage employees in the ways I discussed when they aren’t likely to be around for very long.

The answer was easy: Yes!

5 Employee Engagement Ideas for High-Turnover Employees

To me, the length of someone’s employment doesn’t have a bearing on whether it makes strategic sense to engage them and their perspectives. We’ve talked before about how one company even uses entry interviews (as opposed to exit interviews) to gain input from new employees before they’ve consumed too much of the incredible corporate Kool-Aid.

Quickly Brainzooming with the restaurateur’s father, here are five employee engagement ideas to get valuable strategic thinking even when turnover is high:

  1. Involve employees as frontline listener-reporters, playing back what they hear from customers.
  2. Solicit their input on problems they are experiencing with internal processes.
  3. Ask them what workarounds they have figured out to make things go more smoothly than they would otherwise.
  4. Have them share suggestions for things they would experiment with, change, or definitely keep as is.
  5. Ask them where you can find more individuals like them to recruit for the business.

No matter how much they are getting paid or how long they’ll be around, those are five employee engagement ideas where even high-turnover employees can contribute strategic thinking to help make an organization’s leaders smarter about business issues.

And who knows . . . by involving them right from the start, you may actually reduce the turnover rate!  Mike Brown

10 Employee Engagement Ideas to Improve Strategic Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategic planning and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

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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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A client raised a question the other day in a Brainzooming strategic thinking workshop about what you can do when you are waiting on someone busy AND important to provide input on an initiative so you can continue making progress.

That is a question I have had to consider and address frequently.

9 Strategic Ideas to Keep Moving without Important Input

I didn’t have time to share all nine of these strategic ideas to keep moving without important input, but I think I’ve used all of them multiple times to try and work around someone else’s slow response when an important timeline needed to keep moving!

  1. Try to get the decision-making authority or latitude to know what things you can advance without going back for input.
  2. Continue advancing the initiative with an eye toward developing several attractive options your input person can review and select.
  3. Reach out to someone that knows your input person well and can provide reliable feedback on how the individual might respond.
  4. Let them know you are using a “you only have until a CERTAIN DATE to provide input or we’re moving ahead” review standard.
  5. Simplify or eliminate other steps in the development process to allow the current schedule to accommodate a longer review and input time.
  6. Keep going on the initiative, making only “safe” choices, i.e., ones that you are sure your input person will approve.
  7. Prioritize work you can easily change if late input derails the direction you have taken.
  8. Prioritize work that does not preclude you from pursuing other viable options your input person might request.
  9. Focus on work that is familiar or adapt something that has already received approval – as long as you understand why the earlier work was approved and can make smart decisions about the new work.

Try one or more of these nine options, and keep pressing for timely input – as best you can! – Mike Brown

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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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Internal executive videos are funny things.

Well, actually, they are rarely funny things. More frequently, internal executive videos are boring things. Or odd things. Or cringe-worthy things.

Internal-Video

A friend working at a university sends me links occasionally for internal videos featuring a university leader trying for a “rah-rah, pick them up, congratulate and challenge them, but leave them feeling good about themselves” videos. They are heavily scripted (but trying to act as if they aren’t) and delivered in a syrupy, grating style that defines the standard for cringe worthy employee videos.

As I told my friend, it’s as if these videos are employee morale snuff films.

That’s not the way to advance an internal branding strategy.

Alternatively, talking to a nonprofit executive, the issue with her organization’s internal executive videos is execs SAY they want to create videos where they are approachable and relaxed. They then, however, re-watch, re-think, and reject the edited videos because they seem too casual. The question was what to do to get the leadership team comfortable with actually being casual and approachable on camera.

1 Way to Stop Horrible Executive Videos

My suggestion for these videos to have an impact on their internal branding strategy?

Start recording the executives all the time with phones instead of exclusively using video crews and shooting only planned videos. Tell them you are just getting the video to reference for blog posts or press releases with no intention of releasing it. Then, capture them explaining strategy at employee meetings. Video them talking with employees. Ask them simple, direct questions before or after big meetings. Shoot informal moments when they are interacting and relaxed.

The objective is to get them comfortable being on camera when they don’t think it’s going to matter. Then when it’s no longer a big deal for them to be on camera, you can then start introducing these video moments where they are truly relaxed and approachable.

How you break the news to them that you really ARE going to use the videos you said you weren’t going to use?

Well, that’s up to you to figure out! – Mike Brown

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Are you looking for new, more effective ways to engage your employees in shaping and successfully carrying out your brand strategy? You need to download this FREE Brainzooming eBook, published with the Global Strategic Management Institute. You’ll learn three effective strategies to engage employees as an internal brand team.

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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 am in New York today delivering a Brainzooming branding strategy workshop on Engaging Your Internal Brand Team. The event is the Brand Strategy Conference. Our content addresses collaborative ways to strategically engage employees in creating and delivering the best brand experience.

Empire-State-Building2

The branding strategy workshop came about from talking to too many executives that think it’s okay to let employees in on branding changes at the same time (or even after) customers learn about them.

THAT is a horrific idea for delivering a great brand experience.

We will introduce a new Brainzooming Fake Book soon that includes the exercises we will cover in the branding strategy workshop.

Branding Strategy – Engaging an Internal Brand Team

Here are links to fourteen articles integrated within the workshop.

Identifying Opportunities for Employee Input on Branding Strategy

Collaborating with Employees to Enhance the Brand Experience

Supporting a High-Performing Internal Brand Team

Inviting Employees into Branding Strategy Conversations

Mike Brown

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DInternal-Brand-Strategy-eBoownload Your Free Internal Branding Strategy eBook!

Are you looking for new, more effective ways to engage your employees in shaping and successfully carrying out your brand strategy? You need to download this FREE Brainzooming eBook, published with the Global Strategic Management Institute. You’ll learn three effective strategies to engage employees as an internal brand team.

Download Your FREE eBook! 3 Actionable Strategies for Engaging Your Internal Brand Team

 

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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How can you “do the impossible with nothing”?

That would definitely take extreme creativity!

On Easter Sunday 2016, Mother Mary Angelica, the Foundress of the EWTN Network, the Catholic media organization, passed away at the age of 92. Mother Angelica, although she was essentially silenced by a stroke the last 15 years of her life, was known for her sharp wit, orthodox view of Catholicism, and undying faith that if she were pursuing God’s will, He would supply the knowledge, wherewithal, money, and talents she didn’t have when she started.

Mother-Angelica

Amid non-stop EWTN coverage of her death and reruns of her old TV programs, multiple remembrance shows featured people that knew her well in both a spiritual and business sense.

During one show, a guest shared a message on a piece of paper in an EWTN guest house:

“We, the unwilling, have been led by the unqualified to do the unimaginable with so little for so long, we’re now ready to do the impossible with nothing.”

When I posted this message on Facebook, people immediately discussed it in a political context. It had struck me as an entrepreneurial statement. As a long-time EWTN viewer and listener, however, I knew exactly what the message implied. You must pray, discern God’s will, and take the first step in faith before you know what’s going to happen next. That was clearly Mother Angelica’s formula for EVERYTHING related to the network she started in 1981 with $200 and a TV studio in a garage.

A New Add to Our Extreme Creativity Strategic Thinking Exercises

Thinking about the statement further and the audacity of trying to do “the impossible with nothing” suggested this idea was the ultimate in extreme creativity.

While I would guarantee that beginning with prayer is the BEST place to start, a new extreme creativity question is finding its way into future strategic thinking exercises:

“Where would you start if you had to do the impossible with nothing?”

Why are we adding this strategic thinking question?

Because when I applied the strategic thinking question to The Brainzooming Group, I immediately moved to ideas I had NEVER considered before:

  • Having Emma Alvarez Gibson introduce an all-Spanish version of Brainzooming content and training
  • Doing a crowdsourced “resource raising” to find the talents to help develop the full range of Brainzooming content in exchange for a percentage of future revenue and profits
  • Refusing to schedule meetings before 10 a.m. so I can spend more time in prayer after mass every morning
  • Posting all our content online so people can download it and create custom Brainzooming content that suits their specific needs
  • Solicit someone with incredible online capabilities to take us on as a pet project to demonstrate the upside of creating and distributing a lot of targeted content

Those were all new ideas – some demonstrating more extreme creativity than others.

Given the quickness and high concentration of thinking from applying it, we definitely have a new extreme creativity question for our strategic thinking exercises. – Mike Brown

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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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We (and by “we” I mean “I”) would like to believe we’re strong at strategic thinking in business. And an appreciation of strategic thinking from a business perspective SHOULD extend over into ALL the decisions we make.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

With strategic thinking, it’s often so much easier to apply it to other organizations and people than to our own situation.

The-Thinker

Need a few examples to back that claim up?

Here you go.

The SMARTEST Thing I Could Do Would Be To . . .

  • Prioritize all the business development stuff I need to do, but I sit at the computer struggling to write a blog post for the next day.
  • Get on with writing a blog post for the next day if that’s what I’m going to insist on doing, but instead, I spend time chatting on Facebook Messenger.
  • Work on one thing at a time and finish it, yet my desk is strewn with 15 things that need attention by the end of the day.
  • Stop snacking, but I’m too busy walking to the kitchen to get cheese crackers as a way of getting exercise.
  • Appreciate the people that have reached out wondering why I seem so frazzled lately, but all the while I’m concerned about what I’m doing that’s making it so obvious how frazzled I’ve been lately.
  • Turn off the computer to clear the memory out and let it take a rest, but I refuse to shut it down and have to re-open all those Windows Explorer searches.
  • Go to sleep instead of staying up past midnight once again, KNOWING I have to get up by 4:30 to complete my weekly newsletter writing deadline.

See what I mean.

It’s easy, when it comes to strategic thinking, to KNOW better.

It’s not nearly as easy (it seems) to DO the better thing you know you should do.

Maybe that’s all part of being human.  – Mike Brown

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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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