Strategic Planning | The Brainzooming Group - Part 32 – page 32
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At the invitation of Brainzooming email subscriber Terry Kincheloe, I attended the second 2010 meeting of KairosAnalytics, a Kansas City-based web analytics strategy forum last Thursday. Tony Fortner, Consumer Experience Strategist at Sprint, presented on “Social Engagement Strategy.”

In the course of laying out his perspective, Tony covered culture, values, economic theory, World of Warcraft, strategy creation, the challenges of measuring social community business impacts, plus a few anecdotes on the internal politics at Sprint. Needless to say, it was an evening full of stimulating strategy ideas!

Rather than trying to play back notes from all of Tony’s presentation, here are a few takeaways:

  • So much of creating a vibrant online community strategy goes back to culture, values, and much of what we were taught as children: decency, helping one another, the golden rule, keeping your “hands clean”, loyalty, trust, etc.
  • Tony commented about feeling ethically bound to “say something” when a decision was being considered which would harm a customer. This creates a clear distinction for me. I’d place the emphasis on being bound to protect customers by actually stopping a harmful action. “Saying something” can be a self-serving exercise (esp. when you walk away in frustration), when what’s really needed is creating a positive result from the discussion.
  • For many (most?) companies, embracing the idea of a real community goes beyond innovation and is a radical strategy. If you’re trying to introduce a new, visionary strategy such as this inside a company, be sure to match up with someone who excels at the steps it will take to make it happen. And if implementation is your strong suit, go out of your way to align with someone who can communicate the strong vision necessary for the organization to make strategic changes necessary to be successful with a community.
  • Despite all the discussion on best practices, real learnings often come from the ends of the spectrum, not the middle. To understand where things are headed, look toward the people and companies pushing the limits.
  • Not every brand is going to win with a social community strategy. Some pre-existing business models simply aren’t going to fit with the innovation imperatives a community-based strategy implies. It’s clear some businesses are going to lose because of social networking-driven strategic change.

It was a great session. In July, I’m speaking to KAIROS on what could ostensibly be seen as the same topic Tony addressed – social media and strategy. Because there are so many ways to address the topic, it was reassuring to see our angles will be complementary, but different enough to have new things to say. – 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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Ranking among opportunities can be tricky during strategy and innovation planning. Rigorous metrics may take too long to gather. A simple A/B/C or 1/2/3 ranking strategy, though, ignores underlying assumptions about how beneficial or costly an option may be. Absent some kind of description, your “1” ranking may be very different than someone else’s “1” ranking.

This video clip from the “Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation” presentation discusses a beneficial ranking strategy which includes giving descriptions to each ranking point. Using this prioritization strategy, participants are forced to pick a descriptive ranking for each opportunity. This important step stimulates strategic discussion since each person has to weigh in with a choice others are able to interpret. It sets the stage for a clear opportunity to agree or disagree and use strategic discussion to move toward a stronger overall prioritization decision. – 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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Someone on the team side in NASCAR racing had asked me what business people look for in racing sponsorship proposals. The list below highlights characteristics that would set a sponsorship pitch apart as warranting attention beyond its move to the physical or virtual recycle bin:

  • You MUST GET THIS! You have a brand, just as a potential sponsor does. Be ready to explain how the brands fit with one another. You want your brand and the sponsor’s brand to enter an extended relationship. For the relationship’s success, your brand must be supportive and complementary to the sponsor’s brand. Clearly show you’ve thought about a strategy and share what you do to actively manage your brand to maximize audience awareness and ensure a strong reputation.
  • Do homework on the potential sponsor and its BUSINESS objectives. Don’t start with sports talk. Show right away you’ve made an effort to understand what’s important in the sponsor’s business. Connect the assets you have to how the sponsor can create more happy customers, revenue, and profits from doing business with you.
  • Focus on what the sponsor’s trying to achieve in its primary business activities and how the sponsorship contributes – not the other way around. I’ve actually had drivers start with how important a sponsorship is…in helping them achieve their racing ambitions. Frankly, the sponsorship pitch isn’t about making your dreams come true. Enough said.
  • Talk about how your sponsorship assets can help attract attention. Pretty pictures of sponsorship assets (i.e., racing cars) are in everybody’s presentation. What’s rarely seen is a creative treatment of how these assets can be strategically and innovatively used to grow revenue and profit for the sponsor. Don’t simply say how many tickets are available. Share the innovative ways you’ve considered to maximize the value and reach of those tickets.
  • Your audience may not be fans – but they do want to know what you can do to make their fans feel special. It’s dangerous to assume a potential sponsor is a fan of your sponsorship category. Certainly though, they’re big fans of their own businesses, brands, and customers.  Focus your appeal on how you can make the sponsor’s fans feel special with insider and exclusive experiences.
  • Demonstrate you’re legitimately metrics-driven. While this includes background on your sponsorship performance, it’s really important to show how many of your target sponsor’s customers you can reach along with numbers on how effective other sponsors who’ve partnered with you have been at growing their businesses. Provide real ROI metrics, or at least important components in the ROI equation.

There you have it from my perspective. In reality, the specifics work for preparing other sports, entertainment, or charitable sponsorships. The list can also help marketers determine whether a sponsorship proposal is worth considering for a next step. So how about it marketers – what else would you add to the list of requirements you have for groups seeking sponsorships?

If you’re pitching sponsorships, adopt these principles, and you may have a shot at a second phone call. – 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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Do you allow yourself to get on a roll, even when it seems like it’s more prudent to take a break?

A couple of years ago, Keith Prather and I had an incredible opportunity to do collaborative strategy sessions on 18 different topics in 10 business days. We split up and ran 2 simultaneous sessions some days. Others, we’d do two 1/2 day sessions.

It was mentally and physically fatiguing, but the opportunity to innovate the emerging Brainzooming approach  so frequently in a very compressed time created tremendous learnings about what worked and didn’t. It allowed us to modify and test new strategy exercises the very next day. By the end of two weeks, we were completely on top of our game despite being exhausted.

A similar situation happened recently.

When it comes to exercise, I take the easy way out, telling myself it’s important to rest in between workout days and to not go too hard on the elliptical trainer, especially if I’ve got a training session afterward.

At the start of the year though, Seth Simonds put out a Primal Stride Challenge to attain weekly fitness and health goals. The first included doing a daily 5K for 7 days straight. New Year’s Day, I did my typical hard, but not too hard, run on the elliptical trainer and posted an average 5k time. Having a goal to work against and doing it on a daily basis, however, I reduced my 5k time by 6.6% at week’s end.  That was with only one off day! A remarkable improvement based on where I am in my physical fitness journey.

Reflecting on this, it reminded me of the earlier experience with Keith. Both cases involved doing something way more than I thought made sense given the likelihood of the effort leading to fatigue – and an expectation of lower performance. Yet in both cases, getting on a roll and not letting up actually led to tremendous performance improvements.

My take away?

Your strategy should be to keep going and not worry about pacing yourself if you truly want to dramatically improve.

How about you? How do you train to reach your peak mental or physical performance, and what works best for you to get on a roll and keep it going? – 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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It’s a blast seeking out people to be Brainzooming guest authors because it leads to finding so many creative people working on fascinating projects. This week is no exception.

As with most of the guest bloggers, I first met Alex Wolf on Twitter. I soon found my way to her website where she describes herself as a blogger, photographer, traveller, software trainer, booklover and “positivity central.” Beyond that, she details how she’s 1 girl taking on 101 goals in 1001 days. Her 101 goals adventure began on January 1, 2009 and will end September 29, 2011. So far, it’s taken her all over the world, led to two tattoos, working at a film festival, made her a vegetarian, introduced her to many new friends and made her a very Can Do kind of girl. 2010 is going to be the busiest year in her 101 goals plan and includes climbing a mountain (April), white water rafting (May) and starting to work towards a parachuting qualification (July or August), among other things.

Given how innovative Alex’s undertaking is, I asked her to share her perspectives on goal setting strategy with all of you:

If you started a New Year’s Resolution (NYR for short) this year, you’ve probably abandoned it already. Most of them don’t survive the third week of January. But hey, don’t feel down. It’s a good thing when one fails. It gives you a chance to go back to the basics and make proper goals.

According to most studies, including this recent one in The Guardian, NYRs are doomed to failure because of the way they’re made. In short, they’re all about end destination and rarely focus on how to actually get there. Lose weight, get promoted, fall in love. They’re dreams. They’re wishes. But that’s all they usually are, and that’s why they usually fail.

Here are some key differences between NYRs and good goals:

  • An NYR is impersonal, cookie cutter dreaming. A good goal is personal and something you can get enthusiastic about.
  • An NYR is a one-line throw away. A good goal is defined, specific and holds you accountable.
  • AN NYR has no end date or target. A good goal has a time frame/conclusion built in.

Let me give you a practical example:

NYR: “Get fit”

Analysis: Hard to analyze something so ill-defined! It’s completely generic, has no connection to the person making it, and has no time frame. There’s also no accountability to it – you can hardly ask someone if they ‘got fit’ over the weekend in the same way you can ask them if they went to the gym three times last week.

Good goal: “Complete enough training between January and the end of March to compete in my local half marathon in April”

Analysis: It’s specific and personal to the goal maker. They’ve set a timeframe and criteria for how they’ll know the goal is complete. It’s flexible enough to fit in with their real life. It’s also accountable – people will know if they don’t do the training and can’t compete.

This is all very obvious stuff, of course, but it can be hard to focus on the basics of good goal setting during resolution silly season. Now that the 2010 NYR silly season is over though, and no one’s watching, how about quietly turning some of your dreams into real, solid goals?

It’s easy and you can do it in three steps.

1. Set Goals, Not Dreams

Go right back to the goal setting basics, make your goals SMART. Make sure the goals you end up with are goals you can get excited about.

2. Make Realistic And Ongoing Commitments

Commit to working on your goals when you can; try and define when those times are. Carry a list of goals with you and read it occasionally. Stay focused on why you want to achieve these things and what you need to do next to move forward.

3. Start Moving

Get started then keep going. It’s that simple. A pragmatic goal being worked on when you can is so much better than your voice singing in the annual NYR failure chorus. And you deserve better! Alex Wolf

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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12

Incorporating social media (via Twitter, blogging, video, community sites, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) is a growing phenomenon for live and virtual events. Last week included a swing through Chicago for strategy development on two conferences where I produced social media in 2009. I’ll be heavily involved in growing the social media presence for both events (the national Business Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association Market Research Conferences) again in 2010.

According to attendees and event industry observers, we introduced more innovative social media experiences than even many tech-oriented events. This impact at the front end of producing event-based social media comes from the fact the activity merges several areas of expertise for Brainzooming, including:

  • Strategy development
  • Customer experience design
  • Social media
  • Event production

Based on first-hand experience, beyond creating a buzz or “newness” for an event, strategically incorporating event-based social media delivers a variety of real benefits:

  • We created additional layers of content beyond capturing speaker talking points. We produced additional commentary, links to relevant information, and video interviews, among other educational assets.
  • We extended the conference impact to audiences outside the event through conference websites and the liberal use of hashtags.
  • It’s possible to motivate favorable behaviors through incorporating promotional offers to drive trade show traffic.
  • It provides another way for attendees to become actively engaged in an event.
  • We gained an understanding of audience reactions to presenters on a real-time basis.
  • It’s a way to solicit and address on-site customer service issues.
  • Our efforts provided additional educational value by introducing a large percentage of attendees to social media applications.
  • The social media team’s presence prompted new interaction opportunities among those engaged in tweeting at each event.

What experiences have you discovered with event-based social media? We’ve found that realizing the full range of benefits requires a well-planned strategy and “producing” an event’s social media effort, not simply leaving it solely to organic development. (Check out the deck below for a sense of the range of interactivity we built into the AMA Marketing Research Conference.)

View more presentations from Mike Brown.

Through both producing major events and taking a lead on organic social media in a number of smaller events, we’ve developed many fundamental approaches and look forward to sharing the benefits of these learnings in events this year. And if you’re doing event planning, let us know if you’re interested in finding out more about how social media can deliver new value for your event.  – 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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In many circles, “strategy” has become a bad word, right up there with “creativity,” “innovation,” and even “thinking.” There clearly are business people who see strategy as mucking up getting things done. For them, strategy is perceived as simply adding time, cost, and complexity. It’s viewed as an impediment to running a business successfully. And by “successfully,” I mean “by the seat of their pants.”

To try getting a toehold for introducing a strategic perspective in these environments, we talk about strategy at Brainzooming as “addressing what matters with insight and innovation.”

It’s tough for executives to argue against the “what matters” part, especially when making a case for something tactical as REALLY important. It forces them to put up or shut up if an idea is more of a pet project than a fundamental business issue.

Granted, “insight” is a little easier to sell-in than innovation; people don’t want to be “dumb” about the work they’re doing even when they’re willing to accept a “status quo” mindset.

The clear implication the past few years is the simpler and more straightforward the definitions, process, and deliverables of strategy creation and implementation are, the more likely something successful will happen.  – 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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