3

As I mentioned the other day, I did a session locally on linking blogs to business strategy. One segment of the presentation addressed writing less for a blog by featuring guest authors and incorporating more videos.

After the presentation, Jill Tran came over to talk. She has her own interior design firm in Kansas City and is also a blogger. When I asked Jill to do a future guest blog for Brainzooming on creativity and interior design, she suggested we video something. And that’s what we did!

So here’s our first video guest blog, with Jill talking about the intersection of creativity and interior design. (You can click on the link if the video doesn’t appear.) Enjoy!

Now that Jill’s done it, our repertoire of ways for you to be featured on Brainzooming has grown. If you’d like to create a short video on strategy, innovation, or creativity, let me know. If you’d prefer to write a guest post, here’s some background information to get you started. – Mike Brown

Guest Author

The Brainzooming blog has a wonderful group of guest authors who regularly contribute their perspectives on strategy, creativity, and innovation. You can view guest author posts by clicking on the link below.

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10

Last Thursday, I presented on linking blogs to business strategy at Kansas City’s Central Exchange. While discussing editing blog posts, one potential blogger asked about overcoming the problem of perfectionism when writing. I rather flippantly answered psychological help might be in order.

While trying to be funny, the answer wasn’t completely facetious. I love when things happen exactly on strategy. Through years of observation, however, I’ve come to realize very few mistakes mean even a “figurative” end to the world. Why drive yourself crazy trying to solve every little issue.

This realization began in earnest early in my career, when another person and I were working on a matrix comparing our company to major competitors. It was an arduous project, with many revisions and lots of eyes (including eyes senior to ours) reviewing various drafts. It was eventually published for several thousand sales and management people in the company.

Everything was fine until I received a call from someone who pointed out our company’s goal of “reducing customer exceptions” was mistakenly printed as “reducing customer expectations.” Figuring we were both fired, my co-worker and I went to our boss and informed her of the mistake.

We didn’t get fired. In fact, no one else ever came forward as even noticing the problem.

Despite lots of effort to avoid them, mistakes happen all the time in life. Not that I condone poor performance, but don’t waste your time seeking needless (and often self-defined, not customer-defined) perfection or losing your temper when mistakes do happen. You’ll be much more content and better off if you use a different strategy.

When mistakes occur around you, look hard for what’s actually better because of the mistake than what was originally planned.

In the case of the “lower customer expectations” gaffe, what was better was it made me a more careful editor. Does that mean I’m a perfectionist in writing. Not necessarily. It means I’ve learned and developed a whole repertoire of techniques for overcoming proofreading problems.

For you other perfectionists out there, what strategy do you employ to protect yourself from the tendency to be too correct?  - 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

Sunday night’s Super Bowl provided an incredible opportunity: getting a cool group of brand-savvy marketers from around the country together on Twitter to tweet about the best Super Bowl XLIV ads. As opposed to larger hashtag groups, the #BZBowl group was more intimate (with nearly 70 participants and no spammers). We had a lot of great IRL and online Brainzooming friends (both new and previous ones) navigating a few Twitter overloads and sharing more than 900 perspectives on Super Bowl ads throughout the game.

Update-wise, our recaps will unfold over the next few days. Barrett Sydnor is preparing a recap based on the SUCCESS formula spelled out in the book “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath. It will be interesting to see how this assessment compares to the popular opinion and buzz-oriented evaluations.

For me, the best Super Bowl ad was only 15 seconds, took just 30 minutes to shoot days before the game, and didn’t cost the advertiser anything to air (in fact, the biggest cost was likely the private jets to get its stars to the shoot). Yes, the David Letterman promo co-starring Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno was the standout ad in this year’s Super Bowl.

When you think through the “Made to Stick” criteria, the promo fully used 5 of the 6 proposed keys to memorability. It was:

  • Simple (little dialogue, one set, no computer graphics)
  • Unexpected (who’d have thought you’d get Leno and Letterman on the same set after the past month)
  • Credible (if Jay and Oprah will hang with Dave, why wouldn’t you?)
  • Emotional (with little dialogue, it was still one of the funniest ads as David Letterman imitated Jay Leno to his face)
  • Story-based (who doesn’t know the backstory so as to quickly put the setting into context)

The only key it didn’t use was Concrete, and that’s only because it didn’t scream, “Watch the Late Show!”

Just goes to show that a creative idea, some strategic risk taking (on multiple fronts), and implementing the SUCCESS formula can more than compensate for huge production budgets when it comes to memorability.

A few other quick impressions:

  • Certain “creative” (or maybe not so creative) themes emerged among ads (underwear, little people, surprise tackling, classical music). Many were easy to spot because of odd CBS scheduling which placed similar commercials back-to-back during certain breaks.
  • Super Bowl Advertisers (or their agencies) aren’t getting that traditional and social media should work together for maximum effectiveness. Pepsi went all social and suffered from no call-outs in the game. Few Super Bowl TV ads included social media angles (only Vizio had really blatant social media overtones), with the exception of a few, “go to the website to see more” mentions (Focus on the Family , GoDaddy, Doritos, HomeAway).
  • The Doritos open competition for ads seemed to work well for the brand, with some relatively strong creative in what many online felt was a lackluster Super Bowl advertising year.
  • For all the pre-game handwringing, the Focus on the Family ad was much ado about nothing. The ad featuring Tim Tebow and his mother was very weak, irrespective of how you feel about the intended message.
  • The much-anticipated Google ad was interesting and distracting at the same time. It demanded attention to follow the integrated, text-based storyline in one pass (I admit it – it took me two viewings due to a poor attention span). The popular view is the Google ad signals its fear of Bing. My game time tweet was that in my previous job, I’d always tried to sell our e-commerce team on simplicity in web design. The rationale was that Amazon and Google didn’t have to invest dollars to get people to understand how to use them. So…did Google really need to run the ad?
  • Coca-Cola went for little vignettes, including one built entirely around the Simpsons. These ads felt like they were solidly facing the past. Saw a mix of reviews on these – USA Today had Sleepwalker at number 5, but the Simpsons spot at number 30 among all Super Bowl ads.
  • There was nearly universal disdain, at least among the #BZBowl crew, for GoDaddy. My personal opinion is that Danica Patrick’s willingness to be in these BS ads signals how really bad the motorsports sponsorship market is. I feel sorry for very few athletes, but these ads continually put her into situations she should not have to be associated with.

As I write this very early Monday morning (after a post-game visit to the emergency vet with a sick cat), USA Today is reporting (by a really obnoxious guy BTW) the top ads as ones from early in the game:

  • Betty White (and Abe Vigoda) playing football for Snickers
  • The Doritos ad where the dog put its collar on its owner
  • The Bud Light ad with the house made out of full Bud Light cans

My sense from the chat on #BZBowl would be agreement with Snickers, but support for other Doritos ads as among the best. Forbes.com lists one of the E*Trade baby ads as number 1. I was less sold on the babies this year, but the campaign did yield a great new term, “Milkaholic.” Its other top 3 were Doritos (dog collar) and Denny’s (which should have come up with a special football promo name for its expensively-touted Grand Slam Breakfast).

As I mentioned, we’ll be updating our Brainzooming Super Bowl Analysis the next several days, sharing a strategic and innovation perspective on the Super Bowl marketing efforts. - 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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The #BZBowl - Sponsored by Brainzooming

Do you spend more time thinking about Marketing than Manning?

More interested in Bud than Bowl?

Think the Super Bowl is really a bunch of cool ads interrupted by guys in padding hitting each other?

Then you’re in the right place for live and post-game analysis of Super Bowl XLIV  ads and social media from a group of seasoned marketing, branding, and social media observers.

How can you participate?

  • Check below for a live feed of all the tweets using our #BZBowl hashtag.
  • Log on to Twitter and tweet your observations about the ads. Just be sure to include #BZBowl in your tweet so it shows up below. For even broader visibility for your tweet, also include #SuperBowlAds in your tweet so those following that hashtag will see what you’re saying on #BZBowl.
  • During and after the game, we’ll provide updated commentary, ratings of ads using the SUCCESS criteria from “Made to Stick,” and videos of the best and worst Super Bowl advertisements. You can grab your own expected ad list and score sheet below.

Thanks for playing! To see a list of expected Tweeters and links to other resources, you can visit our main #BZBowl page too.

And if you’re a first time visitor to Brainzooming, learn more about what we do to catalyze innovative success!

View more presentations from 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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14

Okay, first, this has to be said: the Business Communicators Summit sponsored by the Kansas City IABC was INCREDIBLE!

While I leave many conferences feeling like, “Oh crap, I’m so far behind and won’t ever figure out the cool things other people are doing,” nothing could be further from the truth after yesterday’s conference.

Leaving Kansas City’s Uptown Theatre at day’s end after hearing Steve Crescenzo, Chris Brogan, and other great presenters, my brain was zooming with pages of ideas including some breakthrough ones which only seem to emerge during a highly-creative day removed from the regular routine.

Rather than writing presentation summaries, here’s a sampling of innovation instigators from throughout the day.

  • If you’re in B2B, continually watch the consumer world for ideas to co-opt. People make every B2B buying decision. Appeal to what motivates people as individuals, not as businesses. And people care about people, so put actual people with genuine stories in communications.
  • Great refresh of the tired old “Ask for forgiveness, not permission” quote from Steve Crescenzo: “Proceed until apprehended.”
  • If you’ve got customers who are spending time on social networks, then there’s got to be a customer service dimension to whatever your company’s considering in social media.
  • A pivotal mashup idea from the mouths of Steve Crescenzo and Chris Brogan: Communicators need to be talent scouts. That implies looking for people inside the company who are passionate and ooze the brand. These are your communicators in social media channels, regardless of what department they live and work in. Time-saving tip: when you start your talent hunt, begin in customer service.
  • Deliver people an artifact as quickly as you can, even if it’s a rough version of a concept. People unfamiliar with new concepts will say “no” until they’re presented with something tangible. That means you start big ideas before you get permission, and share tangible stuff before you get perfection.
  • Customers don’t give a crap about the mechanics of what you do. They’re interested in recommendations, and most importantly, the results. Go there first and fast!
  • Just like “-ista,” adding “-ati” to the end of a word makes it sound like a bigger, cool deal.
  • Great presentations are example and story-based. Are you (and by “Are you, I mean “Am I”) taking dramatic steps to make sure your presentations reflect that? Now I’m completely rethinking a blogging presentation scheduled for next Thursday.

This is simply a smattering of ideas triggered by the innovative content on social media and broader communication strategy.

If you attended the BCS (and there were a few Brainzooming readers I talked with), please share what big revelations you had in the comments section.

If you weren’t in Kansas City or were and didn’t make it to the Business Communications Summit (go ahead and kick yourself – no need to wait for permission from me), check out the live tweet stream, while it’s still available. Or as another cheat, here’s a link to notes from Chris Brogan’s presentation the day before.

Thank you KC IABC. What a day! So glad I attended. – 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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We’re putting together a great group of cool, brand-savvy people to tweet about Super Bowl XLIV ads and social media. Joining us is as easy as sharing your tweets during the game and including the #BZBowl hashtag!

For more information, check out our special #BZBowl Super Bowl Hub page!

Looking forward to tweeting with you Sunday!

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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Since Super Bowl XLIV is a great opportunity to review how successfully other marketers are linking strategy and creativity, Brainzooming will feature a live Super Bowl XLIV Twitter stream and before, during, and after game ad and social media analysis.

We’ll use the #BZBowl hashtag, and invite all of you to participate on Twitter with your opinions on the Super Bowl ads before, during, and after the game between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts.

Here are some cool, innovative tweeters who’ve said they’ll participate:

  • @ealvarezgibson – Whip-smart wordsmith. Media maven. Bon viveur.
  • @Reaburn – fulltime husbandfatherfriend, servicemarketer, studentobserver, sarcasmoblaster
  • @prather45 – Corporate Troubleshooter, Opportunist, Futurist, Editor Armada Executive Intelligence Briefing
  • @barrettsydnor – Strategic Contributor at Brainzooming
  • @JohnDigles – Category-Creating CMO. NYSE:IPG Agency SVP/GM. Award-Winning Indie Filmmaker. DePaul Univ MBA Adviser. Social Entrepreneur.
  • @a_greenwood – Public Relations pro extraordinaire, writer, indie novelist, raconteur & man about town. Author of thriller ebook Pilate’s Cross
  • @DebDobson - Social media, Technology Consultant. Former Law Firm Assistant IS Director. Love tennis, cycling, music, football. Love people & business.
  • @AlexisCeule – Social Media Mamapreneur: Making your brand social, by word of mouse. Let’s get snarky! (I love me some @Train music too!)
  • @melrp - Market researcher (qual.), photographer, tomato grower, appreciator of most things.
  • @FunnyEye – Immortalizing Corporate Screw-Ups, Stupidity, & Jargon
  • @BizDriveTime – Marketplace news hub for leadership, innovation and new products. A service of NeuVision Group and Dave E. Anderson
  • @ariegoldshlager – Customer Management, Information-Based Marketing, and Innovation expert.
  • @MeghanMBiro - Founder/Entrepreneur + Career Strategist + Mentor + Idea Incubator + Blogger + Culture (people, green, innovation, new media, arts) Enthusiast @TalentCulture
  • @Brainzooming - me

Join us on Twitter and share your perspectives! All you have to do is include “#BZBowl” in your Super Bowl ad tweets. (Click here to learn more about hashtags and what they do.)

We’ll also be assessing Super Bowl ads, using the “Made to Stick” formula that make up the great book by Chip and Dan Heath. They spell out 6 characteristics for ideas with staying power:

  • Simplicity
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credibility
  • Emotion
  • Stories

Grab a listing below of expected ads for the SuperBowl to keep track at home.

View more presentations from Mike Brown.

Brainzooming will also feature our picks for the best and worst Super Bowl ads based on these criteria. We’ll see how the formula and strategy match up with other best/worst ad lists.

Check the Brainzooming update page to view the tweet stream, updated commentary, and the “Made to Stick” recap.

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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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