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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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1

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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3

A year ago, a “friend” was someone I’d almost certainly met in person. We had come to know one another through shared personal experiences. Keeping in touch was enjoyable, even if through infrequent phone or email exchanges.

One year later, having used Twitter and the Brainzooming blog in a strategy to “meet” people globally, my concept of friendship has been dramatically expanded.

Now, there are “friends” I have:

  • Never spoken to directly and may never speak to via phone, and certainly not in person.
  • Come to know through shared online experiences, typically in messages of 140 characters, that have nevertheless provided memorable insights into their personalities.
  • Been excited to see show up (via their avatars) and communicate with on Twitter, the blog, or in my email.

This expanded group of friends has enriched my life tremendously. They’ve shared their expertise, talents, ideas, creativity, reading lists, suggestions, and personal cheerleading so generously. I communicate with many of them weekly, and know them better than IRL people I’ve been around for years.

All this is a remarkable transformation in perspective, especially considering for a number of these new friends, I don’t even know their full names.

In what innovative ways has your definition of “friend” been changed by social media? – 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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3

The title topic came up recently on Twitter, as it had at a B2B social media roundtable late last year: Who should be doing social media strategy and implementation for a brand – organizationally and individually?

My take is a strategic perspective is the foundation for a social media effort to build a sustaining impact. When it comes to questions of social media strategy “ownership,”  it’s clear sole responsibility for it doesn’t fit nicely into a box on today’s org charts.

Stepping back from the discussions, I forced myself into three criteria which seem necessary for taking on social media responsibilities in corporations:

  • Ability to always be on message for the brand, which implies effectively linking brand strategy to messaging
  • Appropriate sensibilities for social media channels
  • Diverse communication skills that work across various social media channels

Sometimes those people are in marketing communications, but you may find them in other parts of a company as well. They may also exist outside a company’s employee base; that’s fine too.

Most importantly, given the rapid pace of social media, you want the best strategic writers crafting the communication. Where are these people located in and around your company? Find them wherever they may be! – 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

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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1

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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