There is no better compliment for the Creative Ventures team than to have our strategies take hold in a company and help guide their decision making. July was a hectic month with Stops in California, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York. A big thank you to all of our clients who trust us with their most valuable assets, their people. Our clients continue to challenge us to create new and innovative strategies to move their needles forward and we welcome the opportunity to leave a lasting impact.
We just finished working with a client that underwent some serious organizational changes. One of the problems they are currently dealing with is how to manage remote employees with the same effectiveness they had working with their regional employees. At Creative Ventures, we deal with the same issue and in this months over coffee, we share our solution for managing remote teams.
Our brain is an incredible thing, a complex system of approximately 100 billion neurons firing to take care of movement, thought, organ function… oh, and imagination.
The brain receives information, interprets it, and creates patterns. Patterns help us determine outcomes. We don’t have to spend a lot of thought-processing power when we recognize the same thing, when we encounter similarities. We just slip into a comfortable pattern. We drive to work the same way. We shave and shower, or shower and shave. We sleep on the same side of the bed (yeah, you do!). Our ancestors recognized weather patterns and got inside when rain was on the way. They followed animal migratory patterns for food. They recognized predators. Patterns ease the pressure of success. They are also strategic levers.
In the universal need for data, data mining has become an essential pattern-generating element in decision making. Grocery stores can discover buying patterns and will stock more beer, chips and avocados for the weekend. Sequential data will show web site click patterns that, theoretically at least, show web designers the path to simplicity. Pattern recognition allows us to learn from data in an intelligent way.
There are also key behaviors that develop into patterns. Things we do that, through experience, lead to success and allow us to avoid repeated failure. It is the foundation of the data we collected and analyzed in The 21 Secrets of Million-Dollar Sellers and The DNA of Success (our leadership program). We have become proficient in the ability to discover real and true patterns. We found the behaviors people were actually DOING that created their success formula. If you know the patterns of both success and failure you can create a model that will work for you. Patterns often determine the outcome. If you understand the pattern you can impact the system!
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?:The advantage of knowing a pattern is really one of discovery. Oh yes, the patterns are in there, you just have to find them. In big data, algorithms represent the old sailing ships that discovered new trading routes. You have to know what you are looking for. It should be defined as part of any pattern-driven strategy. By clearly identifying the goal you create a level of discipline that establishes a beginning. Without that, you’re simply throwing darts. If the search strays, you need to bring it back to its stated goal. In pattern recognition, it’s easy to succumb to a “squirrel” mentality! Any strategic project needs a firm, well thought out foundation.
STRUCTURE THE SEARCH: It helps to have the right tool for just about anything you do. Try building something with lumber, nails and a trout. Not gonna happen. In behavioral models, our tool is always a series of questions, questions that are well designed to result in a firm stream of information around what you are looking for. Sometimes patterns are hidden in data and the right tool is some type of computerized search. Part of your planning time needs to be on what tool will best lead to the discovery we talked about above. Spend a good portion of your time BEFORE you start. It took me a month to develop the 10 questions that gave me the power behaviors of top sales producers.
THE WHOLE PIE... AND ALSO A SLICE: So, you have all the stuff you need to leverage the pattern. You know what’s coming: now SLOW DOWN before you sprint toward your conclusion. Patterns are tricky things, and our brain, as powerful as it is, is often fooled (think optical illusions). Do this:
Take a look at everything you have, the WHOLE of your efforts. This gives you a big-picture view and can provide just about everything you need to start strategically planning around your recognized pattern, AND ALSO…
Take a look at the individual pieces as if they were all you could find. This allows you to analyze the pattern one piece at a time and you often discover things that don’t belong, items that take the pattern in the wrong direction. This is a great way to see things that are often hidden.
IS THAT A BEAR, A BIRD, OR A BEER?:Busch beer, whose marketing has featured the manliest of men drinking beer in every lumberjack’s most comfortable environment, the woods, is bringing their beer to…the woods. The Anheuser Busch namesake beer, Busch, hosted a pop-bar somewhere in the wild woods of America on July 20. They had a fantastic digital marketing campaign to engage their audience, a type of treasure hunt for those among their most loyal followers to find said hidden bar. The event’s concept was three-fold. First, of course, was the marketing of their Busch beer line and new limited-edition cans. Secondly was to plant a hell of a lot of trees. They partnered with the National Forest Foundation and pledged to plant 100 trees for every person that found the backwoods bar. If you’ve forgotten the benefits of having a lot of trees, just check out this link. More trees are, generally, a good thing. But isn’t having a bar in the woods going to create a bunch of trash in nature? Why yes, it would. Which brings me to their third objective, modeling how booze and nature can be enjoyed responsibly. It turned out that Busch fans are loyal fans indeed and this party hit max capacity. If you’re looking for new ways to engage with your clients or audience, the Busch model might be one you can emulate. Check out the hashtag #BuschPopUp on social media to see how it went.
CALORIES, PROTEIN, FATS, SODIUM, AND THE CONFUSING WORLD OF FOOD LABELING:Food labels are all messed up! From a compliance standpoint, lobbyists galore have fought tooth and nail for what you can and can’t say about the food being sold in this country. For instance, you can say PopTarts are “part of a complete breakfast” because it’s an ambiguous statement. Your mind may make the leap to PopTarts’ being nutritious or healthy, but the term “nutritious,” and even more so the word “healthy,” have extremely stringent rules attached to their use. Add to that the fact that the FDA is making summary judgments about food products based on outdated food science, and you have a market that is getting slowly fed up (pun intended) with the current state of things. Kind Snacks, a snack food company and purveyor of delicious, and dare I say nutritious fruit and nut bars, is leading the fight not only to redefine FDA processes in the form of a massive overhaul of nutritional science, but snacking as a whole. This is a pretty big deal since about a third of the average American’s calories come from snacking. Kind Snacks’ goal is to have some common-sense reform, such as if you want to call your product nutritious it should contain a meaningful amount of nuts, whole grains, fruit, and the like. This whole process could easily take years to produce any significant changes in the industry, but in the end, we could see some serious progress for domestic consumers. The best part of this is that the industry-changing path Kind Snacks is pursuing is a byproduct of a marketing war between them and Clif Bar that dates back years.
FOOT LOCKER'S UNSUNG SWAN SONG: If you’re a fan of sneakers you may have heard that shoe manufacturers understand the $95 billion shoe industry is no longer just about the right athletic shoe for your sport, but about making your sneakers choice define your style and even convey what’s important to you as a consumer. A handful of companies are constantly trying to come up with clever strategies to cater to their various markets. Reebok is focusing on producing their classic old school sneakers look, Adidas is trying to make a fully recyclable shoe, and Nike is working to produce a shoe that leaves a smaller environmental footprint. In the midst of all the sneaker talk, there is one industry that is primed to go bust without some serious innovation, the shoe store. You know, the middle man between the manufacturer and the end-user. Nowadays most brands offer their products online directly to consumers. If you don’t want to go that route, you can find any shoe you want at big retailers that don’t only sell only shoes, like Dick’s, Sports Authority, and Academy. But what about stand-alone shoe stores that are most mainly in malls, which in and of themselves are having enough problems. Well, Footlocker, a staple in the mall shoe store arena, decided it’s not going down without a fight. They have doubled down on the growing and largely underground sneaker market, where hard-to-find sneakers can sell for thousands of dollars. Footlocker has invested in a heap of new projects and companies, including a new sneaker design incubator (Greenhouse) aimed at creating new in-house brands; two of the largest sneaker resale companies out there; and a women’s activewear company, just to name a few. Talk about hedging your bets! The shoe store is just one of the victims of an ever-changing digital economy that will likely affect numerous other industries as manufacturers try to control more and more of their product-to-buyer journey.
Pretty cool stuff ...
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