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branding - AZ Business Magazine April 2008

5 tips for building a brand in 2015

For the past seventy years, business branding has been largely guided by principles developed in the 1950s and 1960s, when there were only three television networks, messaging through advertising was easy to control, and information flowed from a few “trusted” news sources to millions of people.

This one-to-many model of information flow has been upended since the advent of the Internet and social media. Now, information flows in millions of different directions at once—to, from, and by people all over the globe—in an all-to-all free-for-all for eyeballs and market share. Some of the well-established rules of branding still apply in this new, hyper-connected environment. But that doesn’t change the fact that building and differentiating a brand is harder than ever and will only prove even tougher in 2015.

In the coming year, the technological connectedness of everyone on Earth will reach a level never before experienced by humanity. The old rules don’t apply in this world. New rules must be developed.

Here are a few to start with:

BE WORTHY OF YOUR CUSTOMER’S TRUST
At its core, effective branding is about a consistent connection between a company, its products, and its promise to customers. No matter what physical product or service you sell, your true product is trust. On the Internet, trust in a brand can be destroyed in an instant, so safeguarding it is of paramount importance. The good news for serious brands is that, because the Internet is so full of scams, half-truths, and outright lies, people will continue to look to brands as a trusted resource. Earn their trust—then work every day, as hard as you can, to keep it.

DON’T JUST AVOID EVIL—DO GOOD
Google’s infamous tag line, “Don’t be evil” is not the same thing as “Do be good”—and the latter is a much better motto to live by. Young people, particularly Millennials and the generation after them, Digital Natives, like their consumption to reflect their values. More often than not, they make buying decisions based on what certain brands stand for, whether it’s environmental friendliness (Prius), fair-wage pay (Costco), LGBT equality (Kellogg), sustainable energy (3M), or whatever. Spin will only get you so far, though—at some point it has to be backed up by honest, well-intentioned action. The world is full of cheaters and liars. Don’t be one of them.

FEWER MEMES, MORE ME
Because messaging can no longer be controlled by the messenger, brands have had to figure out how to get customers themselves to spread the word. One of the most effective ways to do this is through a “meme” that grabs people’s imagination—such as the Ice Bucket Challenge—and goes viral. Modern marketers spend a great deal of time trying to figure out how to create successful memes. Some work, but most don’t, because the nature of memes is that they are spontaneous and unpredictable.

So-called meme-marketing is still in its infancy, but it is already giving way to a more me-oriented form of messaging: the sort of super-targeted, hyper-personalized messaging that is becoming possible with the convergence of Big Data, artificial intelligence, and ubiquitous mobile and personal devices of all kinds. There will always be a place on the Internet for absurd humor, but Big Data allows companies to understand and connect with each individual customer in ever more intimate ways. In turn, each of those customers has unprecedented control over the messages they receive. Memes may work for a long time to come, but more “me” is what people really want. Learn how to give it to them.

COMFORT THE AFFLICTED
The speed of technological and cultural change people are experiencing today isn’t just mind-boggling—it’s disorienting and, for some people, quite scary. The world they used to know is disappearing, and the world that is replacing it isn’t always reassuring. Time-tested brands can often serve as psychological anchors in turbulent times. People are creatures of habit, and they seek out comfort, particularly when they are uncomfortable. Brands that can provide that comfort (Campbell’s, L.L. Bean), or serve as signposts to a better future (Charles Schwab, Apple) will continue to attract loyal customers even as the retail marketplace continues to fragment and choices multiply. Sometimes, the tried and true is the only thing people will try.

SHARE, DON’T SELL
All social-media platforms in existence today rely upon one basic principle: people like to share. Brands, too, can benefit from sharing—but many are still too focused on selling. Sharing, for brands, means connecting customers with information, ideas, and resources that can help customers improve their lives. The “selling” is done by associating the brand with related networks of information that may or may not have much to do with the brand’s products. The term of art for this approach is “curated content,” but it’s really about offering help to people in ways that don’t feel like a direct sales pitch—because they aren’t. They’re just useful pieces of information that you gave them, with no strings attached—and for that, they will remember you, all the way into 2016.

Owen Shapiro is the author of Brand Shift: The Future of Brands and Marketing. Shapiro is a market researcher, strategist and speaker and spent more than 30 years in customer insights and market strategy. He has a career-long interest in helping launch innovative start-up companies, several of which have become well-known brands, including Staples, PetSmart, Sports Authority, Ulta and Five Below.

cronkite global initiative

2013 Global Summit on Negotiation and Trust

The only professional conference that directly makes the connection between negotiation, trust and achieving a sustainable outcome is the Global Summit on Negotiation and Trust, a three-day event that will take place November 8, 9 & 10, 2013 at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix, Arizona.

This program is designed to help participants become better at forming and sustaining collaborative relationships; increase cross-cultural competence and trust in international negotiation settings; make trust a competitive edge through practical tools and techniques from proven experts; and deploy trust to resolve conflict more effectively and improve negotiation results.

Independent research has established a link between high trust and negotiation results, revealing how these characteristics contribute to improved productivity, higher employee morale, lower organizational conflict, faster decision-making, better teamwork and lower costs of litigation and failed partnerships. The conference will provide a road map for enhancing credibility, improving employee engagement, building commitment, loyalty, and a high performance culture. Additionally, participants will expand their personal and professional network while harnessing the collective wisdom of experienced practitioners, top scholars and executive peers.

Among the speakers will be:  Stephen MR Covey, Author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal #1 bestseller “The Speed of Trust”; Dr. Robert Cialdini, renowned Author of the NY Times Bestseller “Influence: Science & Practice”; Divya Narendra, CEO of SumZero and a co-founder of ConnectU, the predecessor to Facebook; Hon. Hlengiwe Mkhize, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, South Africa; Edgardo Pappacena, Global Business Model Transformation Leader for PriceWaterhouseCoopers; and a number of top scholars, leading practitioners, business leaders and Harvard luminaries.

Conference Chairman and event speaker Andre Bisasor, brings with him a legacy of successful events as the founder of the Negotiation & Leadership Conference. This Global Summit is the next iteration of preeminent conferences produced in the tradition of the previous gatherings held in Cambridge. The following leading authorities on the subject of negotiation in the field are scheduled to speak at the Global Summit.

  • Dr. Robert Cialdini (Renowned Author of the NY Times Bestseller “Influence: Science & Practice”);
  • Michael Wheeler (Harvard Business School Professor);
  • Bruce Hay (Harvard Law School Professor);
  • Divya Narendra (CEO, SumZero and An Originator of the Facebook idea at Harvard College);
  • Chris Voss (Former Head of the FBI International Hostage Negotiation Unit; Former Subject Matter Expert on Hostage Negotiation For G-8 and White House; Former Lecturer at Harvard);
  • Leonard Kopelman (Lecturer on Management & Law at Harvard University; Renowned Expert in international & diplomatic law)
  • Dr. Lakshmi Balachandra (Professor, Babson College; Former Lecturer on Negotiation at Harvard and MIT)
  • Hon. Hlengiwe Mkhize (Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Govt. of South Africa);
  • Dr. Karen Walch (Professor at Thunderbird School of Management);
  • Edgardo Pappacena (Global Business Transformation Leader & Former Chief Strategy Officer, PriceWaterhouseCoopers);
  • Clark Freshman (UCLA Law Professor; Expert in Lie Detection in Negotiation);
  • And many more

Pricing begins at $1,395 USD with an Early Bird registration special of $995 USD for registration before October 15, 2013. Student tickets are deeply discounted at only $150 USD for Early Bird, or $295USD at the regular rate.

To register, go to  http://globalsummitonnegotiation.com/registration-page/

Early registrants, who also follow on twitter at @globalsummitAZ, qualify for giveaways including: one complimentary 8-week, 100% online Executive Certificate course from the Executive Certificate in Global Negotiations, a value of $1,980 USD, as well as one complimentary admission to the on-campus program, Communicating & Negotiating with a Global Mindset, at the Glendale campus with a value of $3,800 USD.

The conference also includes a concurrent youth program that provides a limited number of high school students ( including those from under-resourced communities) the chance to attend the event for free.

Additional information on the Global Summit is available at http://globalsummitonnegotiation.com/

Chandler Innovation Center

How to Turn Company Into Innovation Machine

The world’s future leaders overwhelmingly believe that today’s businesses can grow only if they can innovate – and that today’s business leaders aren’t demonstrating they’re up to the task.

While that’s the thinking of nearly 5,000millennials – the 20- to 33-year-old generation – at least one baby boomer, the innovator who transformed the U.S. travel industry with his creation of Travelocity and Kayak.com, agrees.

“The future for any business today depends entirely on its ability to innovate, and the youngest adults, ‘the idea generation,’ know that,” says Terry Jones, author of “On Innovation,” (www.tbjones.com/terrys-book), a light-hearted but practical guide for fostering and innovation.

“The millennials are the group known for pioneering new ideas, rethinking processes, end-running hierarchies and solving problems by doing what simply makes sense to them. We need to listen to them; they’re the innovators!”

But the worldwide survey of adults born after 1982 found that only 26 percent believe their bosses are doing enough to encourage innovation. The study by Deloitte ToucheTohmatsu Limited, publishedin January, reported 78 percent believe innovation is crucial for growing businesses.

Jones says there are some definite steps business leaders can and should take to ensure their company is hearing employees’ ideas, recognizingopportunities, and ensuring a clear path to execution.

1. Build a culture of experimentation. Not every project will succeed but you can’t learn from mistakes if you don’t allow them to happen. The corollary: Always analyze what went wrong. Why didn’t it work? To use a sports analogy, watch the “game films” to improve and learn as much from failure as you do from success. One fast and easy way to experiment is to test options out online. Whether it’s polling customers, measuring which approach gets the best response, or allowing a segment of your customer base to test drive a new tool, the results can be invaluable..

2. Kill projects not people. In many companies, people stop offering up ideas and volunteering for projects because the punishment for failure is greater than the reward for success. Lunch with the boss or a $100 bonus do not compensate for the risk of being demoted or fired, or suffering a tarnished reputation. When a project fails in a company with a culture of experimentation, the first thing you shoulddo is say, “Bob, what would you like to work on now?!”

3. Break thru the “Bozone layer.” Some of the greatest ideas for innovation will come from the employees on the front lines – those in direct contact with customers or production. But their ideas will never float up to the executive suite if you’ve created a “Bozone layer” by making it too risky for middle managers to experiment. (See No. 2.) While you’re turning the culture around, find ways to reach down to the front lines to solicit  ideas. Implement them and reward the contributors with a big, public shout out – which will help you start changing for the culture.

4. Install “sensors” to pick up customers’ ideas.  Don’t just look to employees for innovation – learn from your customers. They have ideas for new products and new uses for existing products, and their customer service complaints are a fertile source of ideas for improvement. Listen! Social media or a forum on the company website is a good sensor for picking up ideas; Glad Wrap’s 1000 Uses site is loaded with them. For customer service complaints, Travelocityinstalled a lobby phone booth where anyone in the company could listen in on customer service calls. Once a month, everyone was expected to provide feedback on at least two of those calls, and suggest an improvement to eliminate similar future calls plus a work-around for the interim.

Michael Levin photo May 2011

Writing a New Book? Here Are the Tools

Success leaves clues.  If you seek the tools for writing a New York Times self-help best seller, look no further than a new NYT best seller, called, appropriately enough, The Tools.

Phil Stutz and Barry Michels are Los Angeles therapists who have written an outstanding book encapsulating their approach to guiding their patients to successful living.  The book is a tutorial for people who want a better life.  It’s also a tutorial on how to organize and write a great book.  So let’s take a look at the tools Stutz and Michels use that you can put to work in your book.

1. Great title.  A title ought to be what the movie industry calls “high concept” – something you grasp and connect with immediately.  Who wouldn’t want tools?  And then it’s a great title because it makes the reader ask questions:  what tools?  Do I have these tools?  Do I need these tools?  What’s going on here?

2. Solid subtitle.  A subtitle must reveal the promise or “unique selling proposition” of the book clearly and powerfully.  Here, it’s “Transform Your Problems Into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity.”  Well, who wouldn’t want that?

3. Killer blurbs.  The title sells you on reading the subtitle.  The subtitle sells you on flipping the book over in your hands to read the blurbs.  And here you have Marianne Williamson and The New Yorker endorsing the coauthors, along with one other respected author and a top Hollywood client.  That’s the kind of third-party verification that sells books.

4. Chapter one asks a knockout question.  Why can’t therapists solve problems quickly…or at all?  Great question, right?  And then we get just enough of the authors’ backgrounds to know who they are.  They’re therapists profoundly dissatisfied with the limits of traditional therapy.  They tell of the pain they felt when their clients went away without solutions…and so they came up with a new approach.  The Tools.  So you have a problem that we can relate to…authors we can relate to…and the promise of a new solution.

5. Clear organizational plan.  One tool per chapter for the next five chapters, and then a couple of chapters to wrap things up.  Within each of the five chapters describing the tools, a vignette involving a patient, an explanation of the tool, a description of how to use the tool, and other uses for the tool.  Simple and clear.

6. Out-of-the-box “case studies.”  A foul-mouthed road comic.  A young, bitchy, sharply dressed fashion entrepreneur.  A gorgeous yet almost fatally insecure actress/model, afraid that her working class background keeps her from acceptance from the well-to-do West LA soccer moms.  They may be composites as opposed to real people, but they feel so real to the reader.  You get caught up in their stories.  You relate.  Stutz and Michels raise the bar in terms of how to craft case studies.  This is essential for anyone writing a self-help book, because these compelling stories keep us riveted to our seats so we’ll actually learn how the tools work.

Authors have it hard today.  Technology has shredded the average attention span.  Bookstores are a vanishing species.  Infinite entertainment options, or just simply playing with your iPhone, compete for leisure time.  So if you’re going to succeed as an author, put down the toys and pick up the tools…specifically the tools that Stutz and Michel provide in their excellent, and excellently planned and executed, book.

And if you aren’t planning on writing a self-help book, read it anyway.  The tools you’ll gain when you read The Tools will absolutely give you a better life.

New York Times best selling author and Shark Tank survivor Michael Levin runs www.BusinessGhost.com, and is a nationally acknowledged thought leader on the future of book publishing.

social.media

10 Tips to Write a Social Media Policy in Business

Most business owners are now aware that having a social media presence is important for the success of their businesses. While social media presents unthinkable growth opportunity, it also opens the company up to risk.

Thus, it is critical for a business owner to create and implement a strong social media policy that gives the company and its employees the freedom to grow through social media, while putting a set of concrete rules and guidelines in place that will keep the troops in line.

However, when you consider that no two social media policies will be the same because different organizations will have their own unique environments, it is important to call in the experts.

Steve Nicholls, author of Social Media in Business, international speaker, and social media strategist offers 10 tips to write a clear, well-defined social media policy.

1. Create a Task Force: Opinions and ethics may vary between different people; it is preferable that all members of upper management be consulted when developing a social media policy so that all reach agreement on policy content.

2. Define Appropriate Internal Use: It is important to outline what is acceptable and what is not to your employees when it comes to using social media platforms in the workplace. How much freedom employees will have when interacting on social media needs to be clarified based on your workplace environment in order to avoid any confusion.

3. Define Appropriate External Use: As we have seen time and time again, one slip on Facebook or Twitter can ruin a career or a business. Thus, it is important to define who will be allowed to communicate with the public and put an approval process in place.

4. Confidentiality: Content posted on social media platforms need to comply with the organization’s confidentiality and disclosure of proprietary data policies.

5. Accountability: Employees need to be held accountable for everything they write on social media sites.

6. Protect Employers Reputation: Employees have the duty to protect their employer’s reputation. It would also be useful to make employees aware that competitors might read what they post and thus that sensitive information is not to be disclosed as a consequence.

7. Be Clear on Copyright issues: It is advisable to include a clause dealing with copyright, plagiarism, libel and defamation of character issues.

8. Regularly Review and Update Policy: Regular reviews need to be organized and performed. A policy is not always consistent with what is actually taking place and the company need to pay attention and adjust accordingly to make sure it is a relevant and effective policy that promotes growth and safety.

9. Work Hard, Play Less: It is important to stress that social networking sites cannot interfere with primary job responsibilities so that employees do not lose perspective

10. To Whom Does it Apply: The social media policy needs to clarify who to treat as internal staff and thus who will follow the social media policy rules when external resources are brought in.