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Today’s recap from the Frost & Sullivan Marketing World 2009 event, highlights presentations from two CMOs – Eduardo Conrado at Motorola (Broadband Mobility Solutions) and Chris X. Moloney at Scottrade.

Eduardo spoke on “CEO Expectations: How Marketing Must Drive Growth in Today’s Economy.” Among his key points:

  • One downside of seeing yourself as a tech company is you lead with technology, not customer benefits. Comment – Every company is susceptible to this. When you’re strong at a core capability delivering important benefits, make sure you don’t get caught up in the capability and lose sight of potential changes in benefits your customers are seeking.
  • In positioning new products, Motorola attempts to start with the customer perspective, followed by the Motorola solution, and then adding the product detail. Comment - This isn’t revolutionary, yet this solid formula should be kept top of mind when working through positioning, messaging, and customer communications.
  • Motorola attempts to find communities that have developed offline and create a place to host them online. And to add value, Motorola seeks to aggregate relevant content from multiple sources, including material from outside the company. Comment – Great reminder that a company’s social media effort can benefit from going to where people are already being social and adding value vs. trying to lure them to a completely new place with unproven benefit.

Chris Moloney covered “Major Growth and Marketing Opportunities in the New Reset Economy,” with metrics and search as important themes:

  • Chris challenged sellers to work from the buyer’s metrics to be able to best serve them. Comment – Amid the challenges many marketers face in getting a handle on their own metrics, it can seem daunting to consider starting with consumer metrics. Yet this theme is right on target, and has been echoed by other CMOs I’ve seen in the past 18 months, most particularly Keith Pigues at PlyGem. You have to understand what success looks like from the customer’s view, particularly in B2B markets, to deliver the best possible value.
  • Every marketer needs to understand search in some form, and it’s a good area to get good at for the efficiency benefits in can create within your marketing mix. Comment – Search was a big theme throughout the day. Patricia Hursh, President and Founder, SmartSearch Marketing, did an informative presentation on free tools to better understand search traffic on your website. It’s an area I’ll be exploring more deeply given the predictability of search as a marketing tool.

Tomorrow, we’ll recap the innovation roadblocks roundtable I facilitated at the conference, with some really cool ideas from the participants. – 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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I participated in the Frost & Sullivan Marketing World 2009 event November 2 in Chicago, leading a round table on getting around innovation roadblocks. The next several days will highlight some of the many intriguing ideas shared during the day from great marketing practitioners.

Yesterday’s Creative Quickie mentioned the title “Chief Creatologist” which belongs to Joe Batista at HP, who spoke on “Creating New Market Revenues in a Down Economy.” I met Joe at a 2007 Frost & Sullivan event, and his case study-driven presentations at both events were tremendously thought provoking considering HP targets $3 billion in new growth quarterly from the approaches Joe shared.

He looks for business growth through discovering and exploring new areas to respond to clients’ needs. His efforts center on going beyond a closed innovation model and exploring the company’s research in new ways and looking beyond its boundaries for new opportunities:

  • Joe highlighted techniques to help identify new growth sources, including thinking broadly about the available assets a company has, generalizing what the assets (especially technology) can do, and connecting organizationally-dispersed assets inside a company. Comment – These all tie to fundamental lateral thinking principles, stressing the real-life importance of being able to apply abstract thinking skills in identifying opportunities that would otherwise be missed.
  • Look for pockets of knowledge and expertise inside your business and explore how they can be converted into new revenue streams. Comment - A great way to do this is to identify what BENEFITS your knowledge can provide and then think through what other parties are seeking these or related benefits.
  • One more potential growth source? Growth arises from examining currencies you have available inside your company (i.e., what flows through your value system) and by making the boundaries of your company porous so ideas from outside can flow through it. Comment – Joe’s remarks continually underscored the importance of being able to step away from detail and “get” the bigger, potentially underlying picture, whether it’s inside or outside your company.

There’s a lot behind these summarized comments. I look forward to trying to connect with Joe further and better understand the innovative approach he’s bringing to business growth! – Mike Brown

BTW -This is the second anniversary of the blog’s first post. No big deal in the posts this week, but it seemed like at least worth a mention. Look for the Brainzooming redesign and move to a WordPress format in the very near future!

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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Keith Prather and I attended the October 21, 2009 Central Exchange CEO Series luncheon featuring Beryl Raff, Chairman and CEO of Helzberg Diamonds.

It was an interesting talk, especially when she went off script, discussing challenges in her career, how she developed a specialty in turnarounds, and the first meeting with her new “boss,” Warren Buffett.

The first audience question was about what type of atmosphere she feels fosters innovation. Her answer was one where the status quo is challenged all the time and people “talk about ideas.”

There’s your creative quickie: see how often you’re challenging the status quo today (vs. settling for what’s okay or routine) and notice amid the time pressures of business, if you’re avoiding “talking” about ideas.

Don’t rush to “just do something.” Invest time in strategic thinking and challenge your world as it exists today. – 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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I’ve extolled the benefits of surrounding yourself with both left brain and right brain people to complement what you lack in expertise and perspective. It’s incredible to tap innovative people across the entire spectrum of points of view on strategic situations you’re facing.

Last Friday at my going away party, another upside of a network of great diverse thinkers surfaced: it makes for a better party!

Shortly after the announced start time, someone remarked about the “surprising” number of attendees from finance and accounting backgrounds. Looking around, nearly the entire crowd would be considered naturally left brained thinkers (i.e., quantitative, precise, punctual).

A little while later, more of the right brain people (i.e., intuitive, holistic, random) began to arrive. By the time the event was well underway, it became a whole brain party, spawning interesting combinations of diverse people interacting with one another throughout the evening.

And since some of my creative friends drove the party planning, there were 3 innovation exercises along with post-its and Sharpies for guests to ideate on what Brainzooming could become!

Because of the whole brain network of great people in attendance, we had a crowd early on, lively interactions and ideas throughout, enough people staying late to extend the party, and a final small group of both left and right brainers having a passionate (and by “passionate,” I mean “interesting but slightly uncomfortable”) conversation about my future prospects. Truly, the type of whole brain night I love! – 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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Thanks to a tweet from Richard Dedor, Chris Reaburn and I were last minute attendees at a Kansas City PRSA lunch session by Dan Schawbel based on his book Me 2.0 – Build a Personal Brand to Achieve Career Success.

The talk was part of a career day for students interested in PR, so the average audience age was 20. As a result, the slant of the personal branding ideas Dan Schawbel shared was customized for the industry and audience life stage.

The personal branding ideas he covered were nonetheless applicable to anyone working on heightening their own identities. From talking with many people mid-career professionals in transition, however, they tend to be woefully behind on how personal branding applies to their own career situations.

3 Personal Branding Ideas for Mid-Career Professionals

So for the 25 times 2.0 crowd, here are three personal branding ideas customized for you:

1. Volunteering for meaningful assignments with professional associations is a great mid-career internship.

Dan Schawbel highlights the necessity of internships for college-age job seekers. Mid-career professionals seeking new jobs have similar opportunities. I speak with many people whose current job is “looking for a job.” There’s no sizzle and not much built-in skill development there. Yet associations relevant to you are likely looking for knowledgeable mid-career professionals to take on assignments.

One great thing about a smartly-chosen volunteer project is you typically have room to make it much cooler than anyone in the association ever expected. The result is you get to experiment, learn, and have something with sizzle to lead with when networking.

2. Mid-career, it’s imperative to assess your personality and get on with changing what’s not working.

My advice to people who leave for other companies is always to think about who they want to be in a new job, because it’s the only opportunity to create a “new” you. Dan makes the point it’s tremendously challenging to reinvent yourself in the age of (nearly) total visibility to your online presence.

That’s true, but if you continually trip yourself up through the same behaviors, do the self-help, career coaching, or counseling necessary to eliminate rough spots. Become if not a new, at least a “new formula” you.

3. Mid-career professionals need a solid, actively growing offline and online network.

Dan Schawbel is right when he says a larger network has the potential to work much harder for you. As a mid-career professional, you should be good at determining the highest value people in your network.

While you definitely want to serve and cultivate these relationships very actively, you should also be continually reaching out to expand your network offline and online. Focus on adding people you may be able to help while building the most vibrant, responsive network you can. That’s a far better move than creating the largest network possible filled with people having few real ties to you.

What personal branding ideas do you have to share?

Personal branding is of increasing interest, so look for more personal branding ideas in the future. Let me know how we can deliver value to you as part of the Brainzooming family! – 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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I attended the KC Small Business “Think Bigger” luncheon recently when guest speaker David Kord Murray discussed his new book, “Borrowing Brilliance.” The tome covers 6 steps (defining, borrowing, combining, incubating, judging, and enhancing) to build from others’ ideas.

While several people afterward expressed frustration with Murray’s presentation and demeanor (some of the frustrations were very justified), he shared a number of valuable points. Here’s my take on the highlights he covered (thus the designation of this piece as a guest post of sorts):

  • To get to a core issue, Murray suggests asking, “What’s the problem above the problem we’re considering?” This is a different and helpful way of expressing the question, “What are we trying to achieve?” He cited an old, but relevant, example. In the 1920′s, Ford defined the issue as building the cheapest car. GM identified a more fundamental issue: making cars affordable. Its problem definition led to auto financing’s introduction.
  • Murray expressed a clear disdain for unfettered brainstorming, claiming stronger ideas emerge when more judging is involved. He has a point, in that once you’ve moved from divergent to convergent thinking steps, solid evaluation approaches do push you closer to more readily implementable ideas.
  • In using different perspectives to look for analogous ideas, Murray shared a borrowing continuum to look for ideas in Same, Similar, and then Distant domains (i.e., your industry, a related industry, a radically different industry). This concept has been discussed frequently in Brainzooming (and the “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” ebook is structured similarly), yet this was a new, actionable way of expressing the approach.
  • He talked about “aha moments” occurring in the shower so frequently because we’ve typically minimized conscious thought, allowing the sub-conscious to sift through raw materials it’s been fed. I haven’t tried scheduling a group creative team meeting in the shower yet, but it again emphasizes the value of changes of scenery and activity in ideation.
  • Murray passed along an interesting factoid: Walt Disney conceived Disneyland not as an amusement park, but as a movie starring the park’s guests. Instead of “rides,” mini-movies were then developed in which guests star for a few minutes. I’d never really thought about it, but it makes perfect sense. It’s also a great example of selecting a rich core concept and using it throughout the innovation process to create strategically consistent implementation.

All these are helpful insights. Now here’s one for new authors (i.e., David Kord Murray): when a well-known local bookstore (i.e., Rainy Day Books) helps co-sponsor your appearance, maybe your closing book slide should feature its logo along with (or even instead of) the major online bookseller brands you chose to feature. Just saying. - 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 wrapped up the AMA Marketing Research Conference last week to very kind words from a number of participants about the different nature of the conference experience.

The secret of great, meaningful brand events lies in a simple formula. Look for the strongest possible alignment on these 3 dimensions:
  • Attendees’ personal interests
  • An event’s emotional intensity
  • A brand’s visibility as the event’s enabler

The formula works across many venues and event types. Recognize the enabling brand can be for business (i.e., an event sponsor), or it may be a personal brand (you and your spouse throwing a holiday party).

No matter what the event, consider and deliver on these three variables to see a difference in your audience’s experience and reactions. - 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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