Tools | The Brainzooming Group - Part 193 – page 193
6

Jay Conrad Levinson is the father of guerrilla marketing, the concept that businesses can reap greater rewards through the strategic use of low- and no-cost marketing tools. He says that there are at least 100 guerrilla marketing tools available to any business.

Beyond the standard tool list that Levinson uses, I’ve found it helpful to get marketing teams to work through a specific question-based exercise to identify marketing tools unique or at least specific to their own businesses.

Use the list below with your marketing team. One way is for a team member to identify as many answers to a specific question as possible within a 3 minute period, and then rotate the question to the next team member to build on the list:

  • What do we want to promote?
  • What are our features, benefits & competitive advantages? Which are most meaningful?
  • What communications vehicles are in place?
  • What ideas/words/phrases do we use?
  • Who are experts/partners? What’s notable about them?
  • Where do our audiences congregate (geographically or virtually) and/or receive our messages?
  • What motivates our audiences?
  • How can we get permission and the info to keep marketing to our audiences?
  • What business & personal relationships do we have that could be of assistance?
  • Who would like to be involved with us in growing our business?
  • Who could we help make more successful?
  • What interactions do we have with our audience?
  • What new interactions can we create?
  • What tools or ideas can we “steal”?

I’ve had a team of 8 to 10 people build a list of more than 200 tools (many of which they’d never thought of using) within a 25 minute period as everyone worked individually using the rotating question approach.

You can also check out a more focused set of areas to brainstorm and identify specific social media resources and tools your organization can use.

Give this exercise a try at your next staff meeting or planning session, and then go back through your marketing plan to make sure you’re using as many of the tools as possible that you’ve identified.  – 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, guerrilla marketing-oriented 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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8

When receiving a holiday present, it’s usually very attractively wrapped. But to discover what wonderful new item awaits you requires tearing off the wrapping.

Think about traditional knowledge in your business and industry (its “conventional wisdom”) as the wrapping paper. While understanding conventional wisdom provides some attractive guiding principles to help speed decision making, it also sits between you and potentially wonderful new insights about your business.

So in the spirit of the holiday season, try this exercise to “unwrap” conventional knowledge that may be getting in the way of discovering shiny new possibilities:

  • Write down ten pieces of conventional wisdom in your business. These are the things that everybody who has been around the business knows and understands to be true (i.e., in the restaurant industry, it might be that you turn tables as quickly as possible to maximize the number of people served).
  • For each piece of conventional wisdom, remove it from your knowledge, in effect “unwrapping & discarding” your traditional view of the business.
  • Imagine that you never knew the conventional wisdom you’ve now discarded. Ask yourself – What are five new approaches to my innovation challenge that are different because of what I now don’t know?

In the restaurant example, the five possibilities might include:

  • A one price lunch with dessert included to increase the average check size.
  • Providing some more private meeting space for business lunches.
  • Not explicitly charging for the private meeting space; simply charge more for the food & beverages.
  • Having selected pre-made grab & go items from the sit-down menu for quick lunches on the run.
  • Give diners a signal to indicate that they’re leisurely settled and want the wait staff to take their order.

Try this approach before the holidays are over on an opportunity or problem that you’re presented. Remember though – don’t save all the bows and re-use them year after year, as some people do. Throw a little conventional wisdom out annually and replace it with new & better insights!

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

When receiving a holiday present, it’s usually very attractively wrapped. But to discover what wonderful new item awaits you requires tearing off the wrapping.

Think about traditional knowledge in your business and industry (its “conventional wisdom”) as the wrapping paper. While understanding conventional wisdom provides some attractive guiding principles to help speed decision making, it also sits between you and potentially wonderful new insights about your business.

So in the spirit of the holiday season, try this exercise to “unwrap” conventional knowledge that may be getting in the way of discovering shiny new possibilities:

  • Write down ten pieces of conventional wisdom in your business. These are the things that everybody who has been around the business knows and understands to be true (i.e., in the restaurant industry, it might be that you turn tables as quickly as possible to maximize the number of people served).
  • For each piece of conventional wisdom, remove it from your knowledge, in effect “unwrapping & discarding” your traditional view of the business.
  • Imagine that you never knew the conventional wisdom you’ve now discarded. Ask yourself – What are five new approaches to my innovation challenge that are different because of what I now don’t know?

In the restaurant example, the five possibilities might include:

  • A one price lunch with dessert included to increase the average check size.
  • Providing some more private meeting space for business lunches.
  • Not explicitly charging for the private meeting space; simply charge more for the food & beverages.
  • Having selected pre-made grab & go items from the sit-down menu for quick lunches on the run.
  • Give diners a signal to indicate that they’re leisurely settled and want the wait staff to take their order.

Try this approach before the holidays are over on an opportunity or problem that you’re presented. Remember though – don’t save all the bows and re-use them year after year, as some people do. Throw a little conventional wisdom out annually and replace it with new & better insights!

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

Strategic thinking often falls short because specific outcomes are difficult to trace back to the effort put into strategic thinking or planning.

Beyond approaches covered previously to focus strategic thinking, broaden participation, and increase its rigor, a few principles can help create more tangible outcomes.

Be prepared with a rigorous prioritization approach – Frequently, 5 to 15% of the possibilities from a strategic thinking session have near-term development potential or strong relevance. A great first pass prioritization approach is to approximate the number of ideas your team has generated and divide it by 5 to arrive at 20% of the ideas. Divide this total by the number of participants; the result represents how many ideas each person will be able to select based on their belief in an idea’s strength and/or potential.

Let participants start narrowing – With their individual idea “allowances” set, participants can begin selecting ideas that they’ll take through the prioritization process. Ideas chosen can be their own or those of others. The important thing is that participants believe in the ideas they select.

After each team member has selected a set of ideas, ask them to make an initial assessment of each idea using the following questions – What are the idea’s strengths? What are the idea’s weaknesses? What’s unexpected or unusual about the idea relative to the status quo? What’s your initial recommendation about how the idea could be addressed? It’s beneficial to share these initial thoughts aloud to familiarize group members with ideas that may have been overlooked.

Perform individual ranking with group input– Following the initial report-out, use a 4-box grid to allow individuals to place their ideas relative to two dimensions:

  • Potential Impact – On a scale from Minimal to Dramatic
  • Implementation Ease – On a scale from Easy to Difficult

Once individuals have placed ideas on the grid, talk through each one to see what support or challenges there are within the group. Typically, team members will overstate the number of easy to implement ideas that are expected to have dramatic impact. If true, these ideas are very attractive, but often they’ll have less impact or may be more difficult to implement than originally suspected.

Don’t be afraid to consider moving an idea if there’s a clear take from the group that it’s stronger or weaker than its original placement. The result of this combined individual-group exercise should be a much more refined set of ideas, with a good deal of input to set the stage for selecting a few ideas that will be pursued further for development.

Keep track of what’s left over – It pays to track the ideas that aren’t selected initially. These often resurface later and it’s nice to be able to tie them back to the strategic thinking efforts that you’ve been conducting.

WRAP-UP

So from the last several posts, you’ll ideally be better prepared to cultivate strategic thinking in your department or business and then to do something with it. We’ll revisit these topics over time to provide more refinement, but for now, schedule time soon to do some fruitful strategic thinking!

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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4

Here are two productive question-based strategic thinking exercises for a broad set of business situations.

“What’s It Like?”

This strategic thinking exercise has you look for analogous situations to yours, going to school on others who are smarter or better than you are in solving similar challenges.

The first step is to identify the characteristics of your situation or challenge, asking yourself the following questions to find ways to generalize your situation:

  • What is this really trying to accomplish?
  • How would I describe this situation in 5 – 7 words?
  • What’s this like in other businesses?

Identify who else faces a similar situation to your generalized business challenge and then use their perspective to identify how they’d address your situation and solve it:

  • Who else faces this?
  • How are they addressing it?
  • What would it be like if we addressed it similarly?

“Where Do We Add Value?”

This strategic thinking exercise focuses on where a business or internal department best delivers for customers. Themes that emerge help to identify areas for near term focus or elimination.

First, answer the following questions. Ideally this would take place in a pre-session survey:

  • What are the TOP 3 things we do that ADD INCREDIBLE VALUE for customers?
  • What are the TOP 3 things we do that DON’T DELIVER INCREDIBLE VALUE because we can’t/don’t focus enough time, attention, and/or resources on them?
  • What are the TOP 3 things we do that ADD LITTLE OR NO VALUE for customers?

Record the answers. Look for themes – areas of agreement & disagreement. Based on the themes that emerge, have your group answer the following questions:

  • For Areas of Current Incredible Value – How do we continue to grow the value delivered to provide even greater advantage?
  • For Areas that Don’t Deliver Incredible Value Because of Limitations – How can we work around resource limitations? What are new approaches to increase value? If we can’t fix this, should we eliminate trying to have an impact in these areas?
  • For Areas Where Little or No Value is Delivered – Is each of these critical? Are there opportunities to exit, eliminate, or re-work these activities? If it’s warranted, what steps can we take to make dramatic improvements in the value delivered?

There are many more strategic thinking exercises, but these two are beneficial ones to apply to common business situations that you may face.

The next post wraps up the overview on strategic thinking by addressing how to turn your efforts into successful results.

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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25

From experience and ongoing business innovation research, there are fairly common situations blocking business innovation across companies. No company has all of  these business innovation roadblocks, but the presence of just a couple of barriers will scuttle the most modest dreams of implementing a business innovation program to create value for customers.

None of these business innovation NO’s are insurmountable, so it’s important to understand what causes each of them and some steps to navigate around them and get business innovation going.

1. NO Knack for Innovation

There simply isn’t an orientation toward business innovation. It may be a mature industry, a company that’s had success with an intense focus, one that’s grown through M&A, or has been burned on previous formal innovation efforts. Whatever the reason, innovation doesn’t appear to be in the company’s DNA.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

2. NO Direction

Without a top-level mandate for innovative change, it’s tough for a business innovation-oriented culture to flourish. It could be that innovation is outside the company’s vision, there’s no upper management champion, or a lack of alignment stands in the way of innovation efforts.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

3. NO Rocking the Boat

There’s an unmistakable signal from management (whether it’s uttered directly or not): “If it isn’t broken, don’t mess with it. We’re not interested in risk taking; let’s just maintain the status quo.” These messages make it clear that good things don’t await those interested in exploring new approaches or trying to do things in different ways.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

4. NO Talent Pool

The company may have convinced itself the right people aren’t in place to make innovation happen. It could be a perceived lack of “creatives” or “outside the box” thinkers. More likely though, it’s a failure to get people with diverse perspectives together and let them work. It’s more about diverse talent not working together than not having the right talent in the first place.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

5. There’s NO Tomorrow

This NO springs from the conviction things will be won or lost in the short term, so there’s little need for long term business innovation development. Or it may be there’s no patience for protracted realization of opportunities. If a business innovation is going to be pursued, it needs to be developed and start paying out by the next quarter. In a challenging business economic environment, this sentiment becomes more prevalent.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

Top

6. NO Resources

As with a “no tomorrow” view, lowered interest in applying resources to business innovation may be more acutely felt right now. The absence of specific resources can be broad, including management attention, available time, and investment dollars. Without these vital inputs, innovation stalls or never takes off in the first place.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

7. NO Motivation to Innovate

Something’s lacking that dampens an internal drive to innovate. It could be an environment that doesn’t promote cooperation, no opportunity to receive credit for your effort, or a lack of other meaningful incentives to bring ideas forward and develop them. The net result is that innovation isn’t happening as naturally as it might.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

8. NO Process

There are instances where innovation appears to emanate naturally from within an organization. Chances are though that it’s been cultivated and developed through a process, even if it’s a relatively small scale and informal one. Without some type of planning and organized means to realize innovation, barriers and bureaucracy can easily block new ideas from coming to fruition.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

9. NO Implementation Success

Innovative ideas and concepts are cool, but only have value ultimately if they lead to successful implementation and deliver benefits for the intended audience. There are various roadblocks to successful implementation, including flaws in how ideas are recommended, prioritized, developed, and marketed to target audiences. With all those potential challenges, it’s a wonder anything new actually takes place!

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

10. No Measures

It’s difficult to sustain a formal business innovation strategy without metrics in place to report return on investment (ROI), showcase positive improvements, and troubleshoot issues. Even earlier in the innovation process, the absence of metrics makes identifying and prioritizing innovation opportunities a shot in the dark. Simply put: no metrics = no hope of long term innovation success.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

All the best to you in addressing the specific NO’s you face at work that stand in the way of business InNOvation.

If you’d like more information on exploring the personal perspectives you need to approach your whole life more innovatively, you can download an eBook version of “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.” It’s a great companion on your mission to bring business innovation to life!  – 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 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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0

“If you invent your own instrument, you’re automatically one of the top three musicians in the world on that instrument.” – Matt Goldman, Co-Founder of the Blue Man Group (August 2008 “Inc.”)

Reinvestning your way into a position of advantage is a strategic concept any of us can apply personally or in business. What is an instrument, tool, process, or category that you can invent which creates a new area where you are, by definition, one of the best performers in the world?

Here are some exercises to answer that question.

Identifying Your Distinctive Talents

Distinctive talents are skills closely associated with you where you continually improve as you do them, you benefit others, and you create a spark that attracts people to be a part of the energy you’re radiating. Building your list of distinctive talents begins with answering these questions openly & honestly:

  • What things motivate you to get up every morning?
  • How are you of the greatest service to others?
  • What activities bring you the most happiness and contentment?
  • What functions, talents, and skills do you (or have you) used that give you the most fulfillment in your professional life, family relationships / duties, spiritual life, and personal interests / hobbies?
  • How would you spend your time, talents, and attention if you didn’t have to work?

Hint – Stumped for answers in some areas? Ask a few acquaintances what they think your distinctive talents are.

After answering all the questions, go back and circle the 5 or 10 or 15 answers that truly fit the distinctive talents definition. Since these areas are likely to be the most intuitive for you, you think less about the mechanics of doing them and simply perform them really well. This makes them ideal to incorporate into creating a new “category” where you’ll be the best in the world.

Look and Ask Around

A 360 degree survey can be scary, but it’s a great tool to get a sense of how others perceive you. It can be tremendously instructive and beneficial. I did one through a leadership class several years ago that really helped me redefine some of my behaviors. There are various ones available online.

Another fast way to get some sense of potential areas you can use to define “your category” is to ask yourself and others three value-related questions:

  • What are the TOP 3 things I do that ADD INCREDIBLE VALUE for others?
  • What are the TOP 3 things I do that DON’T DELIVER INCREDIBLE VALUE for others because we can’t/don’t focus enough time, attention, and/or resources on them?
  • What are the TOP 3 things I do that ADD LITTLE OR NO VALUE for others?

Look for themes among the answers and consider using areas of incredible value as potential category definers. Areas where you could deliver value but don’t are potential opportunities for more concentrated effort. Areas where you’re delivering little value could be areas to attempt to eliminate from your routine.

Soliciting reactions about yourself from others may feel intimidating, but assessing and using the responses wisely gives you an advantage most people are unwilling to pursue.

Identifying Ways to Transform Yourself

Yet another way to ideate on a strong “personal” category is to use your current personal strengths and deliberately transform them to identify new and distinctive possibilities. Here’s a relatively quick approach:

  1. State your objective as “Building a distinct personal category to define and differentiate my value to others.”
  2. List 8-10 of your distinctive talents and areas of incredible value as Attributes in the left column in the grid below.
  3. Using the objective from Step 1, take each talent and value area in Step 2 and transform them in the various ways suggested below, always asking: “To create a new personal category how can I (INSERT TRANSFORMER FROM BELOW) to / of (INSERT STRENGTH OR TALENT)?

Potential Transformers include Make It Bigger / Do More of It, Make It Smaller / Do Less of It, Replace It, Turn It Around, Remove It, Standardize It, Customize It, Make It More Complex, Simplify It, Eliminate It

Run through as many combinations as you can, trying to generate 2 or 3 new ideas form each pairing. Don’t settle for fewer than 60 possibilities that could fit into your personal brand category definition.

Next, we’ll narrow all the possibilities to get close to defining your category.

Prioritization and Creating the New You!

After working through the previous three exercises, you should have a wide variety of potential possibilities as input into your distinctive personal brand category.

So what are some steps to dramatically narrow the list of ideas? Here’s a flashback to some previous posts you can use to narrow your possibilities:

Try to narrow to 10-15% of your original ideas, and then begin looking for elements that you can put together to create a new category with which to describe your talents.

Ideally your personal category should be distinctive and defined in a way that you become the only answer to, “Who are the best people who can do this?”    – 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 make your strategic thinking and planning more productive, even when you’re not on a plane!

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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