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The move away from the mikebrownspeaks and Brainzooming™ blogspot sites to Brainzooming.com, triggered questions about the Brainzooming name’s origin. The story has both personal branding and creative inspiration dimensions, so I figured it was worth sharing.

With a common name such as ‘Mike Brown,” it’s nearly impossible to “own” it online as personal branding expert Dan Schawbel recommends. So when speaking more and launching a blog in November 2007, I used “mikebrownspeaks” to own some version of my name. I never really liked the name, however, for a variety of reasons:

  • MikeBrownSpeaks implies only one-way communication.
  • It shares the limitations inherent in anything named after one person.
  • The name didn’t reflect the strategy expertise, innovation capabilities, and real business benefit (helping executives get smart strategic thinking in a hurry) I anticipated would be at the heart of a business some day.

Despite my frustration, I simply couldn’t come up with a name to describe what I was developing and since it worked for the immediate need, this blog was born under that name.

Fast forward to March 2008, and I was creating a collaborative innovation and planning session for students in John Pepper’s marketing class at nearby Baker University. John had asked for the students to work with three brainstorming exercises and a prioritization strategy in 50 minutes.

Putting the session together the Saturday afternoon before, it seemed daunting to do so much in so little time. Suddenly the thought popped in my head, “At that point, it’s not even brainstorming. It’s brainzooming.” I stopped typing, played it back to myself and looking up, said silently, “Thank you God!” My next stop was Google, which revealed 8 hits for “brainzoom” and none for “brainzooming.” Checking the URL, it was unclaimed. I said, “Thank you God,” again, grabbed the URL, and first used the name the following Monday in class. I filed for a trademark, which was finalized in December 2009.

It took longer than I wanted  to come up with the name, but Brainzooming reflects the heart of what we help executives wrestling with strategy do – rapidly think through a smarter set of possibilities, turn the best ideas into solid strategies, and implement them for better results and success. – 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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12

Incorporating social media (via Twitter, blogging, video, community sites, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) is a growing phenomenon for live and virtual events. Last week included a swing through Chicago for strategy development on two conferences where I produced social media in 2009. I’ll be heavily involved in growing the social media presence for both events (the national Business Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association Market Research Conferences) again in 2010.

According to attendees and event industry observers, we introduced more innovative social media experiences than even many tech-oriented events. This impact at the front end of producing event-based social media comes from the fact the activity merges several areas of expertise for Brainzooming, including:

  • Strategy development
  • Customer experience design
  • Social media
  • Event production

Based on first-hand experience, beyond creating a buzz or “newness” for an event, strategically incorporating event-based social media delivers a variety of real benefits:

  • We created additional layers of content beyond capturing speaker talking points. We produced additional commentary, links to relevant information, and video interviews, among other educational assets.
  • We extended the conference impact to audiences outside the event through conference websites and the liberal use of hashtags.
  • It’s possible to motivate favorable behaviors through incorporating promotional offers to drive trade show traffic.
  • It provides another way for attendees to become actively engaged in an event.
  • We gained an understanding of audience reactions to presenters on a real-time basis.
  • It’s a way to solicit and address on-site customer service issues.
  • Our efforts provided additional educational value by introducing a large percentage of attendees to social media applications.
  • The social media team’s presence prompted new interaction opportunities among those engaged in tweeting at each event.

What experiences have you discovered with event-based social media? We’ve found that realizing the full range of benefits requires a well-planned strategy and “producing” an event’s social media effort, not simply leaving it solely to organic development. (Check out the deck below for a sense of the range of interactivity we built into the AMA Marketing Research Conference.)

View more presentations from Mike Brown.

Through both producing major events and taking a lead on organic social media in a number of smaller events, we’ve developed many fundamental approaches and look forward to sharing the benefits of these learnings in events this year. And if you’re doing event planning, let us know if you’re interested in finding out more about how social media can deliver new value for your event.  – 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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6

There are lots of discussions on whether Domino’s is brilliantly innovative or colossally mistaken in the redesign of its pizza with new crust, sauce, and cheese. It’s obviously a multi-dimensional brand question involving both major product and communications decisions.

Not having eaten Domino’s for years, I don’t know whether it’s better or not. Instead, the question here is how to creatively present a major strategy change to customers? Do you do a mea culpa, as Domino’s has done, saying we’ve heard you, and it’s necessary to change? Or do you take an even more aggressive stance and sell against what you were doing previously?

While some commentators have said Domino’s is doing the latter, it depends on what communications you’re watching.

Its 4-plus minute “documentary” version of the story presents a Domino’s message of, “We’ve heard your concerns and have been working hard to address them.” Editing to sound bites for a TV spot, however, pushes the message closer to, “We sold you crappy food, and said it was good.” By the time comedians and the public get a shot, it’s, “We suck, and frankly, we didn’t care…until now.”

Here are three communications take-aways from Domino’s to consider when implementing a major change:

  • Go out of your way to NEVER sell against what you used to do. Violating this simply makes you look stupid (“If you knew you sucked, why were you doing it in the first place?”). Your loyal customers will also FEEL stupid (“They say they suck; what does that make us for liking what they did?”).
  • There’s a fine creative balance since your focused change message will change based on who’s shaping it. Even if you followed the first lesson, somebody outside or inside your own organization will wind up messing up the message (intentionally or unintentionally), ensuring you will be selling against your history.
  • This issue isn’t limited to brand changes and turnarounds. It applies to internal programs, reorganizations, career changes, etc. When you’re making a dramatic change, really think through your strategy and what you really want to offer as the rationale.

The Conan-Leno Tonight Show debacle at NBC is a relevant example of these three fundamentals. I’ve never been a big Conan fan, but watched during his last week to see how he handled the messaging relative to the three lessons above:

Periods of major change are great proving grounds for brand marketers. Go to school on these two very prominent examples for approaches and learnings to use in future turnarounds you face. – 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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0

Here’s some variety – a funny video with Paul Dooley (the dad in Sixteen Candles) trying to coax just the right commercial read out of an announcer in a comedy routine captured at The Bottom Line in New York. Enjoy!

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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7

I caught up with Misty Stocksdale last fall at a Kansas City tweetup hosted by Shelly Kramer and Laura Lake at Manifesto – a very cool, very dark setting. We exchanged business cards, but her attention-commanding title at Total Home was only visible the next morning: Multi-Skilled Genius.  

After checking the company’s website and seeing that everyone had equally cool titles, I tweeted Misty, asking her to share the rationale and impact behind them. In the first guest Brainzooming post of 2010, here’s Misty’s take on creative job titles:

The Kansas City home remodeling industry is home to thousands of contractors, business owners, project managers and installers. Attend an industry function and you’ll collect an array of business cards: different sizes, shapes and colors; identical titles, labels and monikers.

Peer-to-peer networking and executive-to-prospect interactions should be memorable and distinguishing. Anything less makes the connection insignificant and possibly forgettable. A name, for the most part, cannot be altered. But a job title, on the other hand, leaves room for creative flexibility and long-term impact.

My small business decided to do away with the traditional title syndrome two years back.  We no longer hire Painters, Accountants and Marketing Managers. Instead, we recruit Artists, Number Crunchers and Multi-Skilled Geniuses. We showcase these distinct titles on our email signatures, business cards and website contact pages.

A creative job title sparks ice-breaking curiosity. It removes standard barriers and it allows an individual to be instantaneously expressive of who they are and what type of work they do. The creative combination of a few words can make for an interesting calling card that will inevitably set the Head Chef of a home remodeling company apart from every other Owner/Manager in the room.

Our titles evoke friendly responses from clients and professionals, alike. The obvious creativity and flair behind such a title is inspiring to a person who will potentially be working with us.  The titles offer a window to our attitude and make us just a little more memorable in comparison to our peers.  In an industry that values the skillfulness of reformation, the innovativeness of renovation and the resourcefulness of imagination, the last thing we would want to do is get lost in the crowd. – Misty Stocksdale

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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1

It’s a challenge to objectively examine your own website as if a prospect or customer seeking information would. There’s a strategic thinking approach you can follow to get ideas flowing though: Look at a direct competitor’s online presence, trying to shoot holes in it based on how a customer might view it.

You should really be able to get into it by answering a few questions:

  • What misleading or out-of-date information is presented?
  • What’s not compelling about the website?
  • What’s confusing about the navigation?
  • How much unnecessary detail do I have to supply to get a copy of the “free” download?
  • What questions do I have that the website doesn’t answer?
  • Do I know where to get my other questions answered?
  • In what ways did I get smarter by browsing this website?
  • In what ways were my information needs left wanting?

After doing this, go back and see how your own online presence compares. Looking at yourself from a customer perspective should now be much easier! – 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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How do you cultivate relationships initiated and largely conducted online via social networking? And how does it work with thousands of people following you?

The answer to the first question is, pretty much like you do offline relationships. And the answer to the second question is…the same.

For me, “shared experiences” are at the heart of successful relationships. The extent of peoples’ common experiences strengthen and sustain relationships, even when contact levels may be minimal at times. The degree of emotional intensity in the experiences also drives memorability.

While social networking allows for many more “shared” experiences, it doesn’t facilitate a comparable expansion in emotional capacity. Thinking about Twitter, it’s clear an RT or a brief DM exchange provides little emotional impact. That makes it tough to remember some people you may have engaged with even a few months ago.

For those with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, it’s no different than an offline star: emotional intensity isn’t always bi-directional , i.e., fans have intensely emotional experiences with (Twitter rock) stars who have no emotional connection in return.

Beyond simply managing numbers, it’s important to manage how you create opportunities for shared experiences online and offline, (i.e., participate in tweetups) and emotional connections within your network over time. By actively, acting on these variables, you can introduce new shared experiences to help keep a waning relationship going within an expanding network. – 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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