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Bob Thacker, Chief Cubist at Cubit Consulting, closed out the Business Marketing Association conference with a presentation on “Unleash Your Creativity.” Thacker’s creativity comments were a fitting and fun (and by fun, I mean both “strategic” and “enjoyable”) close for the BMA Unleash conference. Here are three themes on creative possibilities I took away to apply to my own creative pursuits:

Challenges Unleash Creative Possibilities

For those who expect perfect conditions to be in place to trigger creativity, history is full of contra-examples where hard times have sent people looking for creative escape and hope:

  • Half of the world’s population died from the plague in the 15th century, yet it also yielded incredible thinkers and artists in the Renaissance.
  • Shakespeare’s artistry emerged from a religious bloodbath in England during the 16th century.
  • The economic failure of The Great Depression was the genesis for many prominent brands which shaped business and culture.

Creative Impact: Don’t look for smooth conditions as a prerequisite for creativity; look for sandpaper to rough things up.

Push for Big Creative Possibilities

As much as anything, Bob Thacker’s presentation was a greatest hits of creative projects he’s spearheaded while in senior marketing roles at Target and OfficeMax, including:

Creative Impact: These are all really smart strategic and creative efforts. How to be comparably successful strategically and creatively? Reading between the lines, asking questions such as, “What is this like?”, “What could this be like?”, and “How can we make this more extreme?” provide an underpinning to all of these Thacker-led efforts.

Creative Thackerisms You Can Use

Bob Thacker’s presentation included a variety of creative witticisms:

  • “If you don’t have a big budget, you have to have big ideas.”
  • “Serendipity can be a strategy, if your antennae are up.”
  • “Look before you leap, but then leap!”
  • “‘It can’t be done really means, ‘It hasn’t been done YET.'”
  • “Creativity is a group practice. Ideas need to be generated in a playful, fear-free environment.”
  • “Why just run a commercial when you can own the whole show?”
  • “Don’t make ads; make news!”
  • “If you can find a holiday tradition to create, do it.”

Creative Impact: A vital part of any creative team is having the instigator and cheerleader for others to fully exploit their creativity. The key creative action can be green lighting those on the team who have the most creative ideas.

Wrap-Up

Hope this provides some sense of the creative possibilities shared during Bob Thacker’s presentation. He packed so many ideas into the hour, providing a real creative treat to those BMA attendees sticking around for such a strong conference finish.

Want one last Thackerism to consider every time you start contemplating a marketing effort?

“If you’re going to crash the party (via your marketing) you’d better bring a bottle of wine (a tremendously rich audience experience).”

Mike Brown

To unleash your own extreme creative possibilities, download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to ignite your creative perspective! For an organizational creativity 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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

Following-up Friday’s post on Seth Godin and his presentation at the BMA Unleash conference, this video was from the close of his lunch presentation. Michael Krauss of Market Strategy Group asked Seth Godin what the attendees should discuss over lunch. His response was to share our unreasonable fears with those at our table. The question led to a variety of comments, including several mentions of roller coasters among my lunch companions.

My answers were going to conferences and networking events such as BMA and driving across really big bridges.

After saying my unreasonable fears, it maybe did become a little easier to network. I haven’t had the opportunity yet to drive across a big bridge.

What about you? What are your unreasonable fears? 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’ve talked about guerrilla marketing before on the Brainzooming blog. One reason? We use a strategic thinking exercise in strategy sessions to quickly expand an organization’s understanding of the hundreds of marketing assets available to communicate its strategic messages to important audiences.

It was definitely a surprise to see guerrilla marketing talked about in a recent episode of Parks and Recreation. I’d never seen the show until very recently, but now I’m completely hooked on it. And I’m not hooked on it because they talked about guerrilla marketing . . . because the treatment of it in the Parks and Recreation is really about how NOT to do it!

Enjoy the video (and the whole episode is hilarious as well) anyway, and if you want to get real understanding on guerrilla marketing, check out these links:

- 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 us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you devise a successful innovation strategy 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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17

I’m doing a social media strategy presentation at the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association in San Diego today. Today’s talk is a major revamp of  my social media strategy presentation, incorporating learnings from all the social media work we’ve done the past year. With much more social media content to share, I’ve prepared 12 social media topics for the audience to choose from in customizing the presentation to the issues most relevant for them. They get value from picking what’s covered, and it keeps me on my toes since no two presentations are the same!

We’ll also be highlighting social media strategy best practices from among attendees to make the talk more industry-specific and recognize smart work in the transportation and logistics industry. While looking for best practices, I found a number of social media mistakes as well. Instead of calling them out in the presentation, however, today’s post highlights seven of the (unattributed) mistakes any business-to-business (or even business-to-consumer) company shouldn’t be making:

1. Making your product/service the hero in every blog post.

In transportation industry blogs, the companies doing the blogging have their services providing heroic solutions in WAY too many posts. Using the problem-solution-result format to occasionally highlight your brand’s products and services is okay. If every blog post involves your brand coming to the rescue, however, it’s repetitive and will disaffect readers. The alternative is delivering content on what customers are:

  • Seeking information about
  • Focused on in their professional (and personal) lives
  • Challenged to accomplish in their businesses

With this approach, incorporating the Think-Know-Do perspective we’ve recommended will help you to create much greater content value for readers.

2. Only following and fanning business-to-business customers.

For business-to-business brands (and business-to-consumer ones too), deciding who to follow and fan can be challenging. While there are a variety of strategies which may be right, at least one strategy is clearly wrong: only following your customers. When you only follow customers in a business-to-business market, your customer list becomes visible to anyone checking your profile.

3. Creating an industry platform with lots of fanfare and very little planning.

One company introduced an issue-oriented portal to tackle a big, meaty industry issue. The introduction included lots of fanfare and promises of frequent updates, community, and vibrant conversations. On launch day, the company debuted several “executive” blog posts to frame its thought leadership position and then . . . wait for it . . . nothing. What does it make your brand look like when months pass and nothing’s happening on the site? If makes it look as if your brand doesn’t keep promises. When executives become hell-bent to launch this type of site, invest some of the development money into creating a legitimately implementable content plan to keep it updated and build a robust dialogue. Not sure how? Call us!

4. Featuring sharing buttons but nothing worth sharing.

Definitely make social media content spreadable by installing plug-ins to allow readers to share your content within their own social networks. Putting sharing buttons on a web page is only one part of the sharing equation. The content has to be valuable and worth taking time to let others know about it. Going through several TMSA attendees’ social media sites, sharing shows up on many pages no one would ever share no matter how easy it is to do.

5. You create all the Twitter and Facebook content you share.

Social networking is about conversation and sharing relevant content from multiple pertinent sources. The Twitter and Facebook presences for many TMSA attendees do nothing but push their own content, making it seem like just a bunch of mini press releases. You can check how you’re doing on this by looking at your last 20 tweets or Facebook status updates. In how many are you “talking” vs. answering questions, engaging in conversations with other users or sharing content from others? Target less than 20% of the content being your material and 80% from some form of interaction.

6. Ignoring social media when your company is being challenged.

When a brand is under attack, it’s discouraging, but pulling back and not communicating in every social channel where your brand is getting bad talked isn’t the way to go. With the ability for anyone to essentially broadcast very creative content about your brand, you can’t afford silence. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be the most compelling communicator of your story. If you’re getting pounded in blog posts, comment and move the conversation to positive topics. If a YouTube video search shows nothing but mocking videos and doomsayers about your brand, get busy and share lots of brief, rich stories about what your company and its employees are doing to provide value.

7. Having multiple accounts and one avatar.

It can be smart to have multiple identities for your brand set up in relevant channels with content targeted to interest areas your customers have. Every presence shouldn’t have exactly the same corporate logo though. Not providing visual differentiation undermines the value of the diverse, focused content you’re sharing. When designing multiple avatars, make sure they carry a comparable feel so people know they’re all from your brand, but reflect the distinct content and perspective each is presenting.

Well?

If you’re a TMSA attendee, were any of these written about your social media presence? If you didn’t attend TMSA, do any of the problems sound familiar anyway? - 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 us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you define a strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your market opportunities.

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

I witnessed my first in-person flash mob last night as Eric “Mean” Melin (@SceneStealrEric on Twitter) led this creative group of Richie Sambora and Eddie Van Halen wannabes in what is rumored to be the world’s largest air guitar flash mob – right here on the streets of Kansas City.

The air guitar flash mob was in support of the 2011 US Air Guitar Championships Regional Competition coming to Kansas City on May 19, 2011. In a Kansas City First Friday filled with lots of strolling and looking at works of art, Eric’s air guitar flash mob was definitely a creative highlight! – 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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2

The TED conference (themed “The Rediscovery of Wonder”) is taking place this week in California. Thanks to Kansas City digital marketing agency VML and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, hundreds of people in Kansas City will be watching today’s TED sessions through a live video simulcast. And in the spirit of my post about live event tweeters and bloggers warranting “press passes”, the VML team is providing me access to outlets and Wi-Fi in order to actively document today’s TED simulcast.

While a strictly video TED event will obviously be a different experience than last summer’s in-person TEDxKC event (which spawned nearly a week’s worth of blog posts), I fully expect a creative burst from the four TED sessions simulcast today here in Kansas City! Here’s the day’s TED agenda, with session times (Central Standard Time):

Session 4: Deep Mystery – 10:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m. CST

Session 5: Worlds Imagined – 1–2:45 p.m. CST

Session 6: Knowledge Revolution – 4:15-6 p.m. CST

Session 7: Radical Collaboration – 7–8:45 p.m. CST

The setup available onsite will determine what the specific Brainzooming content creation plan will be. I’ll likely be live tweeting either on my regular @Brainzooming Twitter account and/or my live Twitter account at @BZLiveTweets. If you’re interested in following the activity during the day, look for the overall #TED hashtag on Twitter as well.

If you’re at The Nelson for today’s sessions, tweet or DM me! – 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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11

How many pages is your resume? Probably no more than three pages if you’re mid-career with years of experience. So much experience, in fact, all the business social networking platforms available to add depth, breadth, and diversity to your business network didn’t exist when your career started. Heck, online business social networking options probably weren’t available even half-way into your career. While that’s reality, being left out of the advantages business social networking 2.0 can provide when your age is closer to 25 times 2.0 doesn’t have to be.

With opportunities social networks provide in putting your name in front of new people, increasing visibility to your skills, and connecting to others who can help advance your career goals, social media channels shouldn’t be ignored by anyone who suspects they’re not in the last job they expect to have!

This is top of mind because I’m talking on behalf of SMCKC with a group of mid-career professionals this morning on “11 Steps and 11 Weeks to Create a Mid-Career Business Social Network.” This video is a post-presentation review of the flip charts I used for the session (another in those social media-oriented presentations where I couldn’t use a computer).

I’d love to say my business social networking immersion started several years ago with a coordinated plan, but it didn’t. It began with a need to build an identity outside the major corporation where I’d spent all but the first years of my career. That critical career need, a proclivity for creating work-related content over the years, a perfectly-timed presentation from a corporate blogger, and instigation from my career coach, Kathryn Lorenzen, were the vital ingredients in launching a business social networking presence well into my career. The effort included:

The result of this effort has been my two-page resume has effectively grown to tens of thousands of pages, with elements of it seen by more than a hundred thousand people in the past year. It’s comprised of expertise-related content and references widely available on many websites. This impact has come from slow progress over a number of years; progress which, quite frankly, is so slow it regularly stretches my patience level. But that’s what diving in and learning as you go feels like. Plus there’s been so much more learning and progress than if I were still crafting an elegant plan which never got implemented.

If you’re really serious about building greater diversity and depth in your network and letting a bigger audience in the business world know about what you know, I’m hard pressed to come up with a higher yielding approach than adding a social media presence to your career plans!Mike Brown

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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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