12

Last Wednesday, I attended the Kansas City Business Marketing Association lunch for a presentation by Ashley Kuhnmuench of Google on the “B2B Buyer at Zero Moment of Truth.” It’s a Google-defined characterization of what happens before a customer comes in direct contact with your brand. Since it’s Google doing defining ZMOT (as it’s acronymed), it’s pretty much seen as the online research a prospect does on your brand before interacting with you. This brief video from the presentation features a further description of the concept:

While it’s an intriguing characterization, the concept isn’t necessarily innovative (people have always been able to reach out to others for perspectives or do offline research on a brand – yes there was research before Google existed).

Ashley did offer some statistics, however, which support the increasing prevalence of pre-engagement searches among business decision makers. She reported:

  • 62% of B2B buyers are doing more online research because of the economic downturn and have become more likely to switch vendors.
  • Google is seeing a surge in B2B conversions, with conversion defined as an individual taking a desired action on a website.

In successfully dealing with the Zero Moment of Truth, Ashley suggested three strategies for brands to embrace:

  • Visibility – Business decision makers are using longer searches (4 to 7 words), seeking out specific information.  They’re also using time outside normal work hours for business-related searches: 40% of business decision makers spend non-9 to 5 time doing online searches for work. Increasingly mobile devices are also part of the search equation. Visibility implies online presences being legitimately active 24/7 (i.e., having someone available to respond to social-media based requests or crises for your brand in what used to be off-hours), easily findable (SEO, SEM), functioning across multiple platforms, and incorporating video (for richer and more personal explanations of features and benefits).
  • Persuasion – B2B searchers are increasingly looking for productivity, efficiency, and sustainability-related messages. So not only does the online presence you actively manage need to reflect searcher interests and your brand in a relevant way, you have to make sure you live up to customer expectations and your brand promise to best impact broader conversations taking place online. With the advent of social media and social networking, it’s become very challenging for brands to manage online messages and the sentiment about their brands when there’s every opportunity for the public to communicate completely contradictory messages. That means brands have to be active in relevant forums with believable, authentic messages and interactions to foster strong relationships.
  • Flexibility – Finally, flexibility implies a brand’s ability to anticipate and respond quickly to opportunities and challenges. It also demands a willingness to launch new ideas rapidly with less attachment to perfection, and great skill in iterating to arrive at increasingly better answers.

The most important point in the presentation centered on this: the presence of online information and dialogue about brands (and related topics) has already fundamentally changed and disrupted numerous industries, including travel, publishing, retail, and real estate. If you think it won’t affect your business-oriented market, you’re wrong, and you need to start anticipating the potential ramifications and responding immediately. – 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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6

Following up yesterday’s personal strategic TEDxKC reflection, today’s TEDxKC review focuses on specific presentations at the August 12, 2010 strategic, innovation-rich event. In keeping with the brisk TED/TEDx format (no presentations are intended to be over 20 minutes), here are brief highlights from TEDxKC:

Francis Cholle – Intuitive Intelligence Is What the World Needs Now

Author Francis Cholle’s main premise is strategic business thinking typically ignores creativity and doesn’t recognize the importance of the unconscious in how we process information. His model for intuitive intelligence rests on 4 strategies:

  • Think Holistically – Look at situations from all possible perspectives.
  • Think Paradoxically – As you look from different perspectives, allow yourself to accept blatantly contradictory elements co-existing together.
  • Listen for the Unusual – Pay less attention to thinking and more attention to feelings our brands’ customers are having.
  • Lead by Influence – Surrender control and give people the autonomy to step off into the unknown.

Given this strategic approach is at the heart of what we’re trying to do with innovation at Brainzooming, his talk really resonated with me.

 

Jane McGonigal – More Online Gaming Is What the World Needs Now

From her innovative perspective as an online game designer, in the only video presentation at TEDxKC, Jane McGonigal shared her firm belief the world is spiraling to its imminent collapse and can only be saved by the types of epic wins taking place 24/7 in online gaming.

She shared how online gaming allows people to rapidly try, experiment, and learn effective innovative problem-solving in epic situations. Online games do this particularly well because they are built around epic stories requiring epic strategies, players are matched to challenges suiting their talents with tons of collaborators, and feedback is constantly provided to innovate, adjust, improve, and succeed.

In the past several years, she’s concentrated on developing online games focused on solving major world problems – energy (World without Oil), human extinction (Superstruct), and the crisis in Africa (Evoke).

Her global prescription is for the people of the world to spend 21 billion hours per week in online gaming to innovate and create the epic wins which will allow the world to survive. While my initial reaction was very much, “WTF,” I’m so thankful Jane McGonigal’s video was included at TEDxKC. She ultimately helped me see a previously unsuspected connection between online gaming, strategy, and rapid process improvement techniques and how they could work together to catalyze innovative global problem-solving strategies.

Dr. Michael Wesch – Meaning Makers Are What the World Needs Now

Kansas State University anthropology professor Michael Wesch, the YouTube star of the evening, spoke to the need for individuals to move from knowledgeable to knowledge able, with skills and critical thinking capabilities to successfully filter the blast of media we all receive daily. As he pointed out, technology has wrought absolutely revolutionary expansions in our capability to:

  • Connect
  • Organize
  • Share
  • Collect
  • Collaborate
  • Publish

Importantly though, Wesch’s point was while technology makes it easy to perform these six activities, they are tremendously hard to do well. The challenge then is using the technical tools to become compelling meaning makers and not just meaning seekers.

Mike McCamon – A Way to Deal with Waste Is What the World Needs Now

I have at least a passing knowledge of McCamon’s water.org organization through meeting Erin Swanson of water.org (@ExplodingSoul on Twitter) regularly at Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfasts. For whatever reason, McCamon’s TEDxKC presentation was incredibly brief. It provided staggering statistics about the amount of solid human waste that’s left untreated globally in a world where more people have access to mobile phones than toilets. His contention is the issue doesn’t get more attention because it’s a private one whose solutions are realized household-by-household and the very visual celebratory experience which exists with clean water solutions (i.e., kids playing in water) doesn’t exist with solid waste solutions.

At one point during TEDxKC, McCamon said, “Someone always lives downstream.”  While the comment was delivered most directly to water and sanitation issues, its much larger application is for all processes globally, big to small, where one group or individual tries to get the good stuff for themselves only to let the next person down the line deal with the negative aftermath.

Dr. Brené Brown – Vulnerability Is What the World Needs Now

At the core of Dr. Brown’s comments is the contention we are losing our tolerance for vulnerability. Rather than vulnerability being synonymous with weakness, Brown sees vulnerability as the birthplace of joy, creativity, faith, and many other very positive aspects of life. As the rejection of vulnerability has spread, we now find:

  • Joy has shifted to foreboding
  • Disappointment has developed as a lifestyle
  • Perfection (or the perception of perfection) is used as a false shield
  • Extremism surfaces as a defense mechanism
  • Medications, alcohol, drugs, credit, and all types of other things are used to numb the pain

She challenged the TEDxKC audience to regain joy in our lives by practicing gratitude and honoring the ordinary in life since filling emotional reservoirs with joy and love is critical to getting through bad things which may eventually happen.

Quixotic Fusion – Both a Skeptical and a Hopeful Eye Is What the World Needs Now

This intriguing performance art group Quixotic Fusion opened and closed TEDxKC. It’s important for me to say upfront, “I don’t get dance.” I so don’t understand dancing, I’ve threatened to make myself take a class about choreography to force at least some better strategic sense of it.

As a result of my cluelessness about dancing, let me just say the take-away for me of the Quixotic Fusion TEDxKC performance was a strategic reminder about illusion. You can put separate elements together (i.e. a dancer and pre-programmed light patterns), and with skill, you can create the appearance of a causal relationship that doesn’t really exist.  If you’re prone to seeing causality in everything, the strategic message is be careful about jumping to conclusions. If, however, you’re a literalist who thinks everything has to be exactly as it is, realize you have some creative room to play with, so take advantage of it.

That’s the presentation recap from TEDxKC, a tremendously content-rich strategic innovation event! Thanks to sponsors VML, Populous, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and Harvest Productions for staging TEDxKC for the Kansas City community!  – 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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3

Thanks to Brenda Bethman, I received a last minute ticket to TEDxKC last Thursday at The Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. Titled “What the World Needs Now,” five speakers (four live, one on video) and a visual/musical/performance art group presented rapid-fire perspectives not really answering the title question – since it wasn’t stated as a question – but more as persuasive speeches on innovative global strategies in a college communications class.

The Set-Up

That isn’t to say TEDxKC wasn’t thought-provoking; it was just never designed as an interactive dialogue on our collective future. Unless you call the audience mingling and getting to write on a big poster what we think the world needs now after the event (all over 1 free drink) an interactive experience.

TEDxKC was certainly much anticipated (although not necessarily well-publicized) in town, with the original 300 free tickets for the Nelson Gallery auditorium being claimed in an hour. Another 500-600 people were ultimately accommodated via video feed in a separate Nelson viewing gallery.

Personal Resonance

Because of a client meeting, I never had an opportunity to vie for a TEDxKC ticket. Having known people who have attended TED and TEDx events, however, TEDxKC certainly felt like an innovation-rich event to attend. Looking back in light of my personal experience and the relevance of the innovation messages, a TEDxKC ticket materializing Thursday afternoon couldn’t have been an accident.

The strategic, unifying thread for meat TEDxKC was the speakers articulating aspects of themes touched on and evolving within the Brainzooming and Aligning Your Life’s Work blogs over several years.

As I’ve said, writing a blog, absent all the other human interactions which are vital to surround it, is a pretty isolated experience. With my professional situation changing so much in the past year(moving from a corporation to pursue The Brainzooming Group full-time), that’s been even truer. The original target persona for the blog was me: someone in a not particularly innovative or creatively-oriented organization wanting to grow, develop, and have a bigger positive strategic impact on those around them.

As my life has changed, I’ve wondered whether my new perspectives resonate with all of you who are so generous to share your time in following Brainzooming. While new innovation-oriented themes have emerged for me professionally and found their way into the blog (thus all the social media and here’s what The Brainzooming Group does content lately), it was tremendously helpful as TEDxKC put into a global context the core strategic themes which mean so much to me personally and professionally:

The strategic innovation messages at TEDxKC really resonated, serving as catalysts for my thinking right now. Tomorrow, we’ll recap the great TEDxKC speakers and the important innovation messages they shared.  – 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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Here is another interview from the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Innovation Conference, where The Brainzooming Group produced live event social media content.  One panelist on the manufacturing and transportation panel, Merlin Spencer, DBA, talks in this video about the concept of “master doers.”  He describes these individuals as the people inside an organization who specialize in getting the vital functions of a business moving forward and completed.

Merlin Spencer’s comments resonated strongly because of the link between the “master doers” concept and the 3 vital audiences for strategic thinking approach The Brainzooming Group uses in facilitating strategic planning and innovation sessions. We’ve repeatedly seen the best strategic thinking results when participants with front line experience, functional expertise, and creative orientations all participate in a facilitated strategy session.

“Master doers” are a subset of the front line experience group, and they are very often misused in strategic innovation work. They’re frequently either excluded (because they don’t fit a typical view of creativity) or they wind up dominating a strategy session (because of the false belief that those without comparable experience are unable to meaningfully contribute to strategic business issues). This fundamental misuse is why we expend concerted effort ensuring the right mix of people and introducing innovation exercises so the three groups, who view the world very differently, can work together constructively, innovatively, and successfully.

The strategic advice here is to examine the attendee list the next time you’re involved in a strategy, innovation, or planning discussion and make sure you have some, but not all, master doers participating. – 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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2

What does an increasingly connected, socially networked, world mean for brands wanting to take strategic advantage of the opportunities it presents?

That was the topic for Matt Anthony, CEO of Kansas City-based digital marketing agency VML in his keynote presentation at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Innovation Conference.

Supporting the assertion about the world being tremendously connected (especially via social networking), Matt offered several metrics:

  • Of the 6.8 billion people on Earth, 1.8 billion go online via PC, including 75% of North Americans.
  • There are 4 billion mobile phones globally and 6 billion wireless subscriptions.
  • 75% of the world visits a blog or social network when online, with social media accounting for 22% of total online time.
  • The average person in the US spends 16 hours online weekly vs. 11 hours watching TV.

 

When a majority of people are connected to both content and to each other (and each other’s networks and content), what strategies will winning brands be pursuing?

According to Matt, they’ll be:

  • Mobile – Winning brands understand the need to translate their web brand strategy specifically for mobile with everything it means for where, when, how, and why people are using mobile devices. Additionally, it will increasingly be about innovatively opening a brand’s experience to enhancements and developments from outside the brand – imagine an app store for your kitchen appliance, your car, your pet, etc.
  • Social – Winning brands will compellingly integrate personalization and customization into their online experiences. Beyond simple interaction, brands should be offering ways for audiences to attach their personal interests to experiences allowing them to create innovative impacts through their interactions with other audience members.
  • Relevant – In one of the most intriguing statements Matt made, he discussed how millennials are looking for both deep relationships and instant gratification – simultaneously. That’s something for brands to ponder – how do you find a “real” strategic intersection of these two desires? Matt suggested brands who find it will provide experiences which are less brand-referential and dramatically more about injecting legitimate value into experiences.

 

  • Transparent – The big phrase within social media and branding – transparency. Everybody says it; what does it really mean? Matt’s perspective is brands need to be true inside before trying to be true outside. With the technological tools now available to individuals to essentially broadcast (at least to their first line networks), they’ve been unleashed to hold brands to a strategic standard of, “Good for me. Good for you. Good for the planet.”

Matt wrapped by identifying mobile plus social media as the killer app. That prediction makes sense. With mobile not just broadly accessible, but actually surpassing the impact of PCs and TV in the near future, real life and online communication will intersect at every waking moment, and even the sleeping ones (as a sleep apnea app is already out there for the iPhone). If that potential for the rapid spread of any customer’s indignation isn’t enough to push brands toward transparency, it’s not hard to see them living on borrowed time in a comprehensively connected world. – 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 brand strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your customers.

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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Today is the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Innovation Conference, where The Brainzooming Group will be producing social media content working with a team of seasoned marketing communications and social media professionals.

To get a great idea of the the panel sessions at the Innovation Conference, the video below highlights four of the five sessions on industry-specific topics. To follow tweets from the Innovation Conference, the live Twitter feed at the bottom of the post will feature the social media team’s live tweets throughout the day using the hashtag #GKCCCInno. For a full social media channel overview for the Innovation Conference, please visit Monday’s Brainzooming post. – 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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In an innovative strategy for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Innovation Conference, a social media team of marketing communications and social media professionals will be covering the live innovation event through live tweeting, blogging, video, photography, and LinkedIn. The Brainzooming Group is producing the social media team and content for The Chamber.

This array of social media efforts will provide a content-rich experience to both attendees and those who can only attend the Innovation Conference virtually.

The social media team will be adding to the Innovation Conference by allowing attendees to:

For those who are able to attend in person, there are even more ways to get engaged with the social media effort:

  • Tweet with the Social Media Team – Do your own live tweeting during the Innovation Conference using the #GKCCCInno hashtag.
  • Learn and Share Knowledge with the Social Media Team – The social media team is comprised of some great marketing communications and social media professionals. The conference provides a great opportunity to network, share best practices, and talk about new ideas on various topics.

Innovation Conference Segments with Specific Session Codes

To follow session-specific Innovation Conference content on Twitter, you can track the following codes the social media team will be tweeting:

Opening Keynotes

  • Fared Adib, Vice President, Product Development & Operations, Sprint Hashtag & Code: #GKCCCInno s1
  • Brand Transparency – Marketing in the Digital Age Matt Anthony, CEO, VML   Hashtag & Code: #GKCCCInno s2

9:05 a.m. Breakout Sessions

  • Life Sciences and Animal Health Panel Hashtag & Code: #GKCCCInno s3
  • Manufacturing and Transportation Panel Hashtag & Code: #GKCCCInno s4
  • Business and Financial Services Panel Hashtag & Code: #GKCCCInno s5

10:35 a.m. Breakout Sessions

  • Technology and Communications Panel Hashtag & Code: #GKCCCInno s6
  • Clean Technology/Alternative Energy Panel Hashtag & Code: #GKCCCInno s7

11:30 a.m. Closing Keynotes

  • Michael Song, Ph.D., Institute Director for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Henry Bloch School of Business and Public Administration, University of Missouri-Kansas City   Hashtag & Code: #GKCCCInno s8
  • Nick Donofrio, Senior Fellow, Kauffman Foundation   Hashtag & Code: #GKCCCInno s9

Join us in person at the Innovation Conference this Wednesday if you’re in Kansas City. If you can’t be there, follow the Innovation Conference via social media. It will be a great learning and innovation instigating event! – 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.comor call us at 816-509-5320 to learn more about how Brainzooming produces live event social media content to enrich any learning 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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