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We have been developing a new competitive intelligence process for a client. The B2B company wants to better collect, analyze, and disseminate valuable insights on competitive strategy.

As with many competitive intelligence systems, especially in B2B settings, much of the most timely and otherwise unavailable intelligence will come from the salesforce. Similarly, the salesforce is in one of the best positions to take advantage of competitive intelligence to better position products, value propositions, and offers to customers to stymie competitive strategy.

It is vital, however, to ensure the competitive intelligence process is not simply asking for competitive intelligence from salespeople, and then giving it back to them without adding sufficient value.

6 Ways to Enhance Competitive Intelligence from the Salesforce

Heard-On-The-Street

To combat this possibility, here are six enhancements to competitive intelligence that originates with the salesforce to deliver new value:

  1. Aggregate information from multiple people to provide a view no one individual has in order to see patterns or spot trends.
  2. Perform additional and deeper analysis on the raw information to create new understanding.
  3. Communicate information to senior leadership that salespeople feel intently, but that is typically lost in the corporate shuffle (i.e., a regional or niche competitor who is not big enough to get corporate-wide attention).
  4. Disprove or verify early rumors salespeople have reported to address the word on the street.
  5. Exploit the availability of non-sales sources to enhance the raw intelligence and deliver new information to them.
  6. Make if more efficient for sales to gather and especially share competitive intelligence with a process that funnels competitive intelligence to them when they need it.

Is a more robust competitive strategy in your plans?

If your organization needs to boost the value of competitive intelligence from your salesforce, give us a call or email. We’d love to talk to you about how we apply our Brainzooming techniques to efficiently gathering information from broad sources and turning it into actionable competitive intelligence. – Mike Brown

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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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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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Brand marketers can find it challenging to identify all the brand language available to communicate a brand’s distinct benefits and value for customers and prospects.

Based on a recent client brand strategy experience, I highlighted an often overlooked source of compelling brand language in my first LinkedIn article: Is Your Brand Exploiting All Its Brand Language?

If you’d like to read the brand strategy lesson from our experience, you can do so over on LinkedIn.

As an alternative, we also put together a screencast that recaps the article plus adds visuals the LinkedIn article does not contain. This is the first time we’re introducing screencasts into the blog. We’re excited by the possibilities because it gives you the opportunity to have a richer experience with Brainzooming blog content. Additionally, because audio and visuals are incorporated in a screencast, I expect it to open up new topics that just don’t come across as strongly when using words alone.

So go ahead and ask yourself: Is our brand exploiting all its brand language? – Mike Brown

Brand Strategy Screencast – Is Your Brand Exploiting All Its Brand Language?


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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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you with a strategy session and branding development to create strategic impact 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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1

looking-for-answersThe easy answer to finding an answer for a question you have is “Googling it.”

While Googling is a ubiquitous way to find and process possible answers from global sources on the web, there’s more to getting solid answers you can confidently use.

Getting to solid answers that are either exactly or directionally accurate requires applying several strategic thinking skills involved beyond just Googling your question and grabbing a fast answer.

6 Search Tips beyond Googling Your Question

To improve not only your online search results, but the real results from answering your question, develop and use these six strategic thinking skills:

1. Imagine your search results before you start Googling

Before you start Googling, develop a sense of what types of answers you might find or at least the forms your answers may take. With this backdrop, you’re in a much better position to quickly evaluate whether you are on the right path with your search results.

2. Push outside your social network for answers

Increasingly, results served up to you online represent a small circle of what Google or other platforms think / believe / know will be most valuable to you. I’m too skeptical to depend exclusively on an algorithm to shape my search. Log out of Google and other applications as best you can to search a wider range of possibilities outside your social network.

3. Don’t read too extensively as you search

Grab as much information as you can as fast as you can without reading everything. Particularly if the answer is important, don’t settle for what might seem like the exact answer right away. Even if it appears you have a solid answer, do more looking to confirm or refute your apparently quick solution.

4. Compare possible answers to your initial expectations

As you begin scanning the initial search results, compare them to what you initially expected as an answer. This is vital since so much of the information you’ll get by Googling your question has never been properly vetted and fact checked. These days, fact checking sits squarely on the searcher’s shoulders. Be skeptical but also be open to having your initial perceptions of what you’ll find challenged or overturned.

5. Look for important disagreements in data

If every source is reporting the same thing, chances are it all came from a single source. When you don’t find a healthy amount of disagreement or variation from multiple information sources, you have a problem. To get a sense of being on the right path toward an answer to your question, go digging for greater information diversity.

6. Keep a running list of insights

As you review search results, jot down initial impressions, major points of agreement or disagreement, supporting points for your answer, ideas from your review, and clues to other places or resources to search. This list is your summarized recap of what your search yielded.

Strategic Thinking Skills Deliver the Best Answers

These six strategic thinking skills will serve you well so you do not just seize the first, and potentially wrong, answers from Googling your question blindly. Mike Brown

 

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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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2014-QuestionsWhat are your most significant opportunities and challenges in 2014? And where do you gather ideas and input on developing the best strategies to address them?

Only you can answer those questions to help shape our Brainzooming editorial content calendar for 2014.

We are asking you and all of our Brainzooming readers around the world to share a few perspectives via a brief online survey. While we talk, email, and tweet with readers regularly about topic ideas, this is the first time we have developed a survey to collect broad input at one time.

Share your perspectives on 2014 starting right here!

Please take a moment to share your perspectives to give us a better sense of where our editorial direction and content should be directed this year. You can access the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014Opportunities_TBG.

Please feel free to share this post or the survey link with other business associates who might benefit from the content on Brainzooming.

As an added reason to participate in the survey, everyone completing the survey can access a free copy of The SmallBusinessTalent.com® LinkedIn* Power Checklist by Stephen Lahey, a Brainzooming reader and producer of the tremendously beneficial SmallBusinessTalent.com podcast.

I’ve been both a guest and a host of the podcast, and I’d encourage you to subscribe to the SmallBusinessTalent.com podcast. Stephen has been gracious enough to provide a free copy of the LinkedIn Power Checklist for everyone completing the 2014 opportunities and challenges survey to help each of us improve our LinkedIn profiles this year.

Share your perspectives on 2014 starting right here!

Thanks for your readership and sharing your perspectives. And here’s to an outstanding and successful 2014! 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

Question-MarksAs a market researcher, conducting new market research is typically NOT my first recommendation for answering a question.

There are multiple reasons for my reluctance to push the new market research button.

Chief among them is market research often asks respondents to speculate about what they might do relative to a product concept that may or may not exist, with a description that may or may not represent the concept accurately or in a way the respondent would actually perceive it.

Said simply, a helluva lot of market research is so speculative you can’t use it nearly as definitively as you might like.

7 Things to Pursue Before Conducting New Market Research

Instead of jumping right to market research as the first option to get a sense of what your customers want or think, seek out:

  1. Research reports and business articles from external sources related to your area of interest
  2. Internal data that contains at least some of the component pieces for the answers you’re seeking
  3. Data based on actual customer behaviors in comparable situations
  4. Experts (internal or external) with working hypotheses or models related to the topic under study
  5. Previously conducted research that demonstrates methodological lessons you need to understand
  6. Stronger reference points for the concept you want to test based on actual or virtual prototypes
  7. Logic, strategy, and experience-based scenarios to frame the potential answers you should expect through primary research

This is just a starting point.

Pursuing the right strategic thinking before conducting new market research will get you better inputs and greater efficiency for your market research investment. – Mike Brown

 

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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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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

I saved the October 2013 issue of Fast Company, its 10th annual innovation by design issue, from the recycle bin when my wife we de-cluttering for me. To justify saving the innovation by design issue from recycling oblivion, I combed through the brand profile articles in the innovation by design section to identify these fourteen strategic thinking questions as innovation starters for 2014.

Strategic-QuestionsYou can use these strategic thinking questions as inspiration for taking advantage of innovation and change, addressing change challenges, and shoring up your brand’s customer experience.

Creating Innovation and Change

  • After you’ve identified the absolutely essential elements of your brand, how can you start changing all the other elements right away?
  • What might be the place or way you start every new initiative so they are all solidly grounded in your brand?
  • How can you more aggressively prototype the huge change you need to start making right away?
  • What can you change that, if it didn’t work, could be completely restored to how it was before?
  • How about expecting everyone in your organization to create something new and improved EVERY day?

Addressing Change Challenges

  • Who in your organization is obsessed with problem solving, and what are you doing to keep them busy solving problems for clients?
  • If you’re trying to inject new thinking into an old organization, what is the senior leader in charge of innovation doing to morph corporate oldsters into new thinkers?
  • What ways can you track things people originally hated about the new big change that they now love – so you can use it to sell-in the NEXT big change?
  • How can you deliberately move the “How do we build it?” question until later in the innovation process?

Improving a Brand’s Customer Experience

  • What are the two next-most detailed questions you can explore about your brand’s customer experience?
  • How are you determining the “ooh and ahh” moments of your new ideas before and after you introduce them?
  • In what ways are you figuring out what you need to deliver to customer’s in the future beyond asking them – since they likely don’t know what they are going to need?
  • How are you improving your ability to prioritize and align disparate innovation processes in different parts of your organization so they maximize value for customers?
  • If you considered everything you have accomplished so far as “day one,” where could you be at the end of “day two”?  – Mike Brown

 

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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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

 

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 last few years have brought about an explosion of online do it yourself or DIY apps and tools. As disruptive innovation is overturning traditional value organizing and value delivery institutions (think publishers, broadcasters, medical diagnostics, and market researchers, among others), individuals with little or no expertise are able to actually or apparently perform as if they are experts.

When a DIY Approach Works

survey-monkey

bisgleich / photocase.com

I am a big proponent of using smart, strategic DIY apps where they serve a bigger purpose and lead an individual or organization to dramatically greater success than depending on traditional approaches.

One example of my belief in DIY was a conversation at a recent event.

I was trying to convince a business owner of his ability and natural expertise in creating his own blog content rather than hiring an outside social media provider to write blog content for him. An SEO specialist is not going to be able to deliver the authenticity and personal insight he would convey as it churns out generalized content on his area of business expertise. The business owner’s ability to create DIY content with available writing apps far outweighs the SEO expertise an outside party might deliver.

When DIY Apps Lead to Crappy Performance

Making sound decisions on using DIY apps takes solid strategic thinking, and my DIY support is not universal.

Later the day of the event where I was discussing blogging with the business owner, the event’s sponsoring organization reminded me why I only selectively support using DIY apps unassisted.

Here was the first question on the DIY post-event online survey the event’s organizer sent out that afternoon.

AMA-Survey-Mistake

Notice the big problem?

Maybe someone who isn’t in market research wouldn’t spot it, but the labels on the survey scale are screwed up. “Satisfied” and “somewhat satisfied,” along with “dissatisfied” and “somewhat dissatisfied” are both reversed in order. So when respondents completed the survey, the event organizer has no way of knowing whether someone responded to the order the labels are shown, or, out of habit, the typical order suggested by the end and mid-points on the scale.

While the event organizer was able to gain speed and flexibility through using a DIY online market research tool such as SurveyMonkey, the survey results it has are complete crap and totally unusable.

So how is DIY going for this organization absent the expertise of someone knowing how to develop and administer a market research survey? And do not forget to consider the wasted time of the event attendees (a number of whom likely ARE market researchers) who paid upwards of $100 to attend the event. What about that?

Smart DIY Uses

Embrace DIY. Use DIY. But do the strategic thinking and be careful the crappy performance DIY apps can create. Take advantage of DIY apps where they lead to smart, strategic advantage. But pay attention if your DIY tools of choice do not have the safety mechanisms to keep you from making “fatal” DIY mistakes. If your app does not monitor and manage your performance, you are still going to need experts to make sure you perform expertly. – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

 

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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