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From the Road

From-The-RoadSome people have always had the EXACT same travel problem every time you see them. At some point, you realize it’s them, not the airline / car rental company / cabbie / hotel . . . I rented a car with 8 miles on it. That’s the runner up in my rental career next to a 3 miler in Orlando on the way to Daytona for a NASCAR race . . . At a sea food restaurant the other night, every painting in the place was of some boat, ocean, or river scene. And nearly everyone had lights behind the windows in the boat or lighthouse. You don’t see that every day . . . I’m not sure why it smells as if someone immediately behind me is eating a pot roast dinner on this plane.

Branding and Experience

I asked on the Delta Airlines Facebook page why they now call the Biscoff Cookies they serve simply “cookies.” They used to be called “Biscoff” by flight attendants. Not surprisingly, there hasn’t been a response . . . An intriguing, but untrackable customer service metric? The percent of times your employees refer to your brand in the first person versus the third person . . . Every time I see a happy, fun, engaging flight attendant I automatically assume they started at Southwest Airlines.

Talking Business

It’s great to talk shop with someone who does what you do. It’s even better to “ask shop.” Then you can just sit back and listen, and that’s where you get some great learning and new ideas . . . A cramped room can bring out the best questions and conversations with a presentation audience. When a room is too big, there’s too much space for staying aloof. Just the reverse is true for a strategy session . . . One warm-up exercise we use asks who people say you look like. I had NASCAR driver Tony Stewart’s doppelganger in a workshop, but didn’t have time to do the exercise and see if he hears that all the time.

Blogging

Being able to keep writing this blog post on my iPad while we land is a new great part of flying . . . Trying to beat my personal best of writing ten blog posts on a business trip from the East Coast to Kansas City. We’ll see how that goes . . . I don’t generally connect on LinkedIn with people I don’t “know” in some way. After accepting an invitation from someone locally who immediately sent a message for me to make time to learn about what she is doing, I remember why . . . I don’t “get” game apps like other people don’t “get” Twitter. I just don’t have the time . . . I’m cranking on blog posts recently because I’m avoiding getting tax stuff organized . . . These columns are the intersection of “Too long for Twitter” and “Too many for Facebook.” Thanks for indulging me. 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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Brand marketers can find it challenging to identify all the brand language available to communicate a brand’s distinct benefits and value for customers and prospects.

Based on a recent client brand strategy experience, I highlighted an often overlooked source of compelling brand language in my first LinkedIn article: Is Your Brand Exploiting All Its Brand Language?

If you’d like to read the brand strategy lesson from our experience, you can do so over on LinkedIn.

As an alternative, we also put together a screencast that recaps the article plus adds visuals the LinkedIn article does not contain. This is the first time we’re introducing screencasts into the blog. We’re excited by the possibilities because it gives you the opportunity to have a richer experience with Brainzooming blog content. Additionally, because audio and visuals are incorporated in a screencast, I expect it to open up new topics that just don’t come across as strongly when using words alone.

So go ahead and ask yourself: Is our brand exploiting all its brand language? – Mike Brown

Brand Strategy Screencast – Is Your Brand Exploiting All Its Brand Language?


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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 with a strategy session and branding development to create strategic impact 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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I am asked about personal success strategies frequently, as I’m sure most business people are.

My 4-Step Career Advice

When someone expects career advice and ideas on personal success strategies for free (as they so often do), my standard career advice, particularly to mid-career professionals is:

  1. Get a Plan B up and running while your Plan A is still working.
  2. Start communicating your expertise in your Plan B area (and Plan A if it fits), whether that’s via a blog, a social media site, video, presentations, audio, etc. The medium doesn’t really matter as long as you start communicating what you know sooner than later!
  3. The minute your Plan A job shrinks (or there’s even a hint it might shrink), start ramping up plans for Plan B to become your major income source.
  4. Should plan A ever go away – or you decide you want it to go away – you’re in control of making the right decision.

That’s my standard advice because it’s what I did. And since it has worked reasonably well, I share this personal success strategy because I have at least case to suggest it’s a reasonable strategy. And I don’t want to suggest a bad course of action to anyone.

Nearly Everyone Ignores this Career Advice

career-advicePerhaps because this is my most frequently shared advice (I’ve been giving some version of it for twenty years), it’s the advice nearly everyone ignores.

One friend has been receiving this career advice from me his entire professional work life, and he has yet to act on it. For twenty years he’s been doing something he doesn’t really love doing, but he won’t launch plan B linked to what he is truly passionate about doing. So when his plan A evaporates – and it’s been close before – he will either be starting from scratch on his passion OR wind up doing more of what he hasn’t REALLY loved doing for twenty years because it’s the only thing where he has deep professional experience.

I understand the reluctance to follow this career advice.

Step 1 is a pain in the ass.

That’s not how popular personal success strategies work; they are supposed to start incredibly easy.

Step 1, however, is hard work. It means doing double time, or at least one-plus time. Thus, if you aren’t up for that, you’ll ignore this advice.

I understand the problems with the whole “I have to work even harder now and probably later” part of this personal success strategy.

But it works. That’s why I keep giving it out to people who ask – and don’t want to pay for more customized advice.

Now, having written this, I have a link to give anyone looking for free career advice. Which is a LOT easier and simpler for me. But for you, if you choose to do it, it still going to be hard. It’s so worth it though.

Trust me. It’s great advice, and it only gets better with time. - Mike Brown

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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A few weeks ago, I texted one of my strategic mentors thanking him for one of the most valuable content strategy lessons he taught me: strong content works in nearly any order.

Over the years I reported to him, I saw him arrange, rearrange, and rearrange again so many presentations as he tried to get the flow just right for the topic, audience, and experience of a particular situation.

The original beginning might wind up as the new conclusion. The apparently logical order of primary messages might be completely upended to make a stronger point. At the last minute, a well-rehearsed transition during a multi-presenter presentation might shift so you were handed the microphone earlier or later than you expected, with much more or much less time to fill, respectively.

And you know what?

The changes worked nearly every time because we had spent so much time making sure the content was strong.

This content strategy lesson benefits me continually in creating blogs, articles, and presentations. This lesson provides countless opportunities to refresh and tailor content for the situation or audience, serving up what is most important in an order designed specifically for each audience.

If you or your brand struggle with generating enough content and adapting it to your audiences’ tastes, put this vital lesson into practice: 

Strong content works in nearly ANY order. 

Go ahead and give it a try.

THE END . . . or maybe this should be the beginning? -  Mike Brown

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question. Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.

 

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 couple recent Brainzooming articles highlighted strategic thinking exercises comparing online and offline situations to help better understand, explain, and develop social media strategy.

One article focused on how using a network TV model helps create fantastic content on an ongoing basis. The other article used models for various social networks as a way to understand how and why you approach each of them differently.

Both these articles and the strategic thinking exercises were well received in part, I think, because they compared the relatively new (social media network strategy) to more familiar things (TV networks, campfires, networking events, etc.).

5 Benefits of Using a Strategic Model

Apples-Orange-LOWe’re big believers in the value of models as strategic thinking exercises for a variety of reasons.

A strategic model can:

  • Provide a different perspective on what you do that you can readily consult to freshen your strategic thinking.
  • Allow you to see the impact of ideas you might want to try in an analogous situation.
  • Create an ongoing source of new ideas through examining what new things are happening within an analogous situation.
  • Suggest potential networking opportunities to reach out to non-competitors facing similar challenges and opportunities.
  • Help you to forecast future events based on how older, comparable industries to yours have changed.

The key to finding viable models for strategic thinking exercises is identifying analogous situations, strategic connections, and even apples and oranges comparisons. With a few options, you can pick one or models that work for you most effectively.

What’s your take on using models for strategic thinking exercises? Any success stories you’d like to share? -  Mike Brown

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question. Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.

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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Social-network-iconsIf you have failed at explaining social media strategy opportunities to executives who just do not get it, it is time to quit speaking CMO and social media speak to them.

CMO speak is not going to cut it.

In my social media strategy workshops, I translate social networks from CMO speak to real life situations executives understand. I have had people from multiple brands at multiple social media strategy workshops say these comparisons are very helpful in communicating to executives.

8 Social Media Strategy Comparisons

So, if you’re looking for a better way to explain social networks as part of your social media strategy, try these descriptions on for size:

Your company blog is like a campfire.

Multiple people tell scary, fun, exciting, emotional, and personal stories around a campfire. They don’t tell boring stories about quality process improvements that are integral to driving best-in-class global satisfaction.

Facebook is like TV.

People spend extended time in front of the screen consuming content from a variety of sources. You need to program way more content than commercials, and increasingly, if a brand wants to get attention for its “commericals,” it has to pay for exposure.

Twitter is like a networking event.

You wouldn’t walk into a networking happy hour and just begin shouting a message to no one in particular. You find individuals and groups, start and join conversations, and demonstrate that you are happy to be there, actively listen to others, and respond to what they say.

LinkedIn is like a professional conference and trade show.

There are a lot of business professionals there and a wide variety of learning and networking experiences, including groups with comparable interests, job boards, trade show booths, seminars, learning materials, etc. Additionally, some people there act as if they know you even though you have never met them before.

YouTube is like a home movie.

It’s informal and spontaneous. Sometimes there’s a lot of talking and sometimes there isn’t. It’s okay that the movies are of varying quality. What matters is that you care about the people and the experiences shared in the movies.

Instagram is like a photo album from a wedding.

There are posed photos, candid photos, and behind the scenes photos. Some are dramatic; others are goofy, fun, heartfelt, and life changing. There are usually people depicted although some photos include buildings, scenery, and other inanimate objects.

Pinterest is like a teenage girl’s bedroom.

It doesn’t take too long looking at a teenager’s room to discover what she’s interested in, whom she cares about, and the brands that matter to her. If she finds something visually interesting that she likes, it has a good shot at getting her attention and being passed along to her friends.

Western-KansasGoogle+ is like a rural area that’s wired for high speed Internet that has fancy windmills and a highway running through it.

It’s a wide-open space with lots of promise. New technology and other advances are going on and changing some things. It is definitely a unique environment, and lots of people are familiar with it because the highway takes them through the area whether they want to be there or not. Yet despite all that, there just aren’t that many people to be found.

And one more . . .

Finally, at the Social Media Strategy Summit, a presenter was talking about how a war room environment allows you to “get your content up right away.” That prompted another comparison: a Social Media Command Center is like Social Media Viagra . . . just thinkin’. -  Mike Brown

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question. Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

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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Vegas-BabyIt’s Vegas, Baby! And I’m presenting a social media strategy workshop at the Social Media Strategy Summit on 7 Lessons in Creating Fantastic, Creative Content for a group of incredible brands.

7 Lessons for Fantastic, Creative Content Marketing

The entire social media strategy workshop is created around the value of using models to make content marketing and social networking readily understandable and actionable within an organization.

As a resource for the workshop attendees and to give all of you a sense of the approach, here are the seven social media strategy lessons along with links to more detailed content throughout the Brainzooming blog.

Lesson 1: Imagine You’re a TV Executive

Lesson 2: Place the Audience First in Your Content Strategy

Lesson 3: You Need Lots of Topic Ideas

Lesson 4: Match Your Business Objective with the Social Network and Appropriate Content

Lesson 5: Be an Engaging Brand 24/7

Lesson 6: Balancing Content and Commercial Messages

Lesson 7: Design a Sustainable Content Strategy

And once the workshop is completed? Watch out New York, New York . . . I’m headed your way for roller coaster riding!  -  Mike Brown

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

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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