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Trends are pushing brands into innovative channels to sell their products and services. These strategies include going through intermediaries who resell, repackage, aggregate, or creates marketplaces for multiple providers’ offerings. These arrangements have been the rise and ruin of many brands.

A specific challenge for parties in these intermediary relationships is that each brand visible to the end customer is bringing its individual brand promise to the sale. In turn, each becomes responsible for the aggregate brand promise, making it critical for various individual promises to fit together in a sensible way for customers. It’s also vital that each provider (and its employees) can and do carry out the aggregate promise of whatever’s being offered.

Our experience last week highlighted the challenges involved. Trying to get our driveway cleared of 9 inches of snow before returning from a trip, we used ServiceMagic.com. It promises to identify a short list of screened and approved professionals for home repair and contracting work, backed with a seal of approval and a guarantee.

We chose the first one to contact us (whose name can best be described as “Generic Subdivision Name Lawn and Garden” company).

Here’s the rub. Beyond whatever else ServiceMagic promises, its name implies something more. It’s not operating under a generic lawn and garden company name. Adding the name “Magic” into the collective brand promise implies an enhanced sense of delight and wonder with the service performed.

Unfortunately, we returned home to find the snow removal only partially completed. The porch, walk, and driveway were still half covered in snow – hardly a magic moment. A call to the snow removal company didn’t get someone back to do the work by the next morning. I wound up finishing the project, shooting a video before and after to substantiate what was and wasn’t done.

As of this posting, no one’s contacted us and we haven’t been invoiced by anyone. Maybe that’s the “magic” part of the service. If this is the case though, it would be a more magic strategy if someone called to say, “Hey, we screwed up, and it’s free!” Doing so would ensure our return for more performances! – 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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Okay, it’s the time for 2009 reviews and 2010 look aheads.

So, what did you stop doing in 2009?

Stopping something counts as “doing something.” And in a period when time demands are coming at us from more ways than ever, it’s okay to quit things that aren’t contributing or adding as much value to your life as other things.

So, what did you quit in 2009?

Answering the question myself, I had a big quit (my long time job) in 2009 and a variety of slow downs (i.e., less activity than previously expended while still keeping something going). I probably didn’t quit enough things in 2009 though and certainly didn’t quit as many things as I started.

How about you?

For me, 2010 feels like it’s going to be a year of more quits. That’s because there will need to be a bunch of starts and trials this coming year. It will be one of dramatic changes and will require repeatedly identifying what isn’t valuable anymore and needs to go “bye-bye.” One of the things I’m considering for the quit list is daily posting on Brainzooming in favor of a several times a week schedule. Would definitely appreciate your reactions to the idea before it’s a final decision!

If your stop doing list from 2009 also seemed too short, start deciding what you’ll be quitting in the next 12 months. – 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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A Reflection

Published on October 30, 2009 by in Brainzenning, Brainzooming - All Posts, Career, Video

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We never know how long important personal and business relationships will endure. That necessitates using every daily opportunity to help those around you grow and to learn from them as well. A post last year when a friend was leaving our company included questions to see if you’re really giving enough of yourself to important people in your life. The questions warrant repeating:
  • Can you see your positive influence on these people?
  • Have you helped prepare them to pass on to others the lessons you’ve shared?
  • Do these people know how much they mean to you?
  • If you had one extra day to spend with one of these important people, would you do the same things to help them you’d do any other day?
  • Are you ready to let them go so they can grow and develop even more?

If you answer yes to all of these, you’ve truly given of yourself in helping someone grow and develop.

Entering a new career phase, I want to thank all those people who should be answering “Yes” to these questions in light of what they’ve given to me. They know who they are, and if you look back through the first two years of posts on Brainzooming you will too!

And as suggested by Chris Reaburn, here’s a time lapse Brainzenning video of the denuding of the orange in my office.

What’s Next? I’ll be in Chicago Monday, leading a roundtable on Business Innovation Roadblocks at the Frost & Sullivan Marketing World 2009 Conference and having a Brainzooming tweetup / happy hour get together on Monday (11/2). – 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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Want to meet cool new people? Next time you’re at a public presentation, “live tweet” it. Live tweeting implies using Twitter to report:

  • What the speaker is communicating
  • Your own commentary
  • What others are tweeting about it (through retweets)

I live tweeted the Integrated Marketing Summit last week in Kansas City to further experiment with the process. Based on my tweets from a direct database marketing session, Doug Haslam switched breakouts and joined the session. This created the opportunity to chat, and after attending his session on PR and social media, later talk at the networking reception.

I wouldn’t have necessarily gone up and talked with someone new (ah, the curse of an introvert), but live tweeting opened the door to connect and meet a new, really smart person at the forefront of social media.

Beyond the in-person opportunity, live tweeting often opens the opportunity to attract and follow new people in your Twitter network as well.

Live tweeting – a whole new way for introverts to become social animals. – 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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A very nice Brainzooming reader stopped me at the Integrated Marketing Summit to say she reads Brainzooming every day, “when it’s short.”

Great communications strategy reminder to me and to you.

When writing, it’s a great strategy to set a deliberately low limit on the total number of words you’ll ultimately allow yourself. Challenge every word. While you’re at it, eliminate “that” from your writing. The blog’s rough drafts have taught me “that” is my most frequently used unnecessary word. Based on other material I read, it’s likely one of yours too.

A reader once told me I get one minute of his time each day, which is a “big deal.” His statement is on my mind every time I write a Brainzooming post. I appreciate and respect the time you spend with Brainzooming and want to make sure it’s of strategic value in helping catalyze your success. So I’ll try and keep it short. - 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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Brainzenning – A video moment of calm and reflection.

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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