The Difference Between a Customer Journey and a Buyer Journey

April 8, 2021 I hear B2b marketers use the terms customer journey and buyer journey interchangeably. While it’s not only incorrect, this misunderstanding creates lost opportunities to build early relationships with customers (or potential customers), create a more efficient buyer journey, and develop stronger conversations when it comes time to connect with a sales person. Let’s start with the basics… …

Storytelling Lessons from the Cheese Aisle

April 1, 2021 When I was growing up, the sophistication of my cheese palate was limited to bricks of Velveeta and jars of Cheese Wiz. Fast forward a few years and I’m working at my first marketing job at a small architecture firm in Lincoln, Nebraska. My boss, Dave, buys everyone breakfast, bagels with cream cheese. CREAM CHEESE! I felt …

2021 Edelman Trust Barometer: Trust Crisis Creates Leadership Opportunity

January 21, 2021 Global pandemic. Fake news. Social protests. Economic turmoil. Political instability. If 2020 were a movie plot, no one would believe it. Unfortunately, this is the world we’ve endured the last 12 months. The effects of this imperfect storm come out this month in Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer. This annual index measures the average percent of trust people …

5 Tools That Make Strategic Planning More Innovative

December 3, 2020 It’s the time of year when people begin looking heavily at the change in the calendar and planning ahead. For every company, team and leader, strategic planning is the most important activity they do on a regular basis. It sets the tone for the vision of the company, and the priorities and milestones of getting there. Yet …

5 Other Words for Innovation (and When to Use Them)

November 5, 2020 The manufacturer of window-unit air conditioners wanted customer input but they weren’t sure how to go about it without being overly technical in their questions. They knew the noise level of their units was loud, but they wanted to figure out if customers would pay more for a quieter unit. And if they did, how much would …

20 Examples of 2020 Innovations

October 8, 2020 I’m not going to try and sugar coat it, 2020 has been a hot mess. And we still have the 4th quarter to go. But one of history’s greatest lessons is people’s resiliency during a crisis. John F. Kennedy pointed out that the dual message in the Chinese word for crisis: “The Chinese use two brush strokes …

5 Great Lessons You Can Learn from Curiosity

September 17, 2020 Most successful – not to mention remarkable – discoveries throughout history have come because someone was simply curious. Inventors interested in flight were curious about birds. Curiosity in whales inspired scientists to invest the submarine. A Swiss engineer was curious about how burrs stuck to his dog’s coat and invented velcro. People are born naturally curious. You …

What is Innovation?

September 3, 2020 If you asked 10 different people to define innovation, you’d get 20 different responses. It’s one of those things that seems simple to define and understand but turns complicated when you’re pressed for specifics. It’s no wonder. Innovation has turned into one of the biggest cliché words executives use to talk about how they differentiate their companies …

How Kamala Harris’ Pick as VP Nominee Impacts Innovation

August 13, 2020 “Haven’t I seen you before?” It’s a cheesy pickup line that’s been around for ages. And while it makes people roll their eyes, there’s something to the familiarity quotient. Studies show that we’re attracted to what we find familiar. The more we’re exposed to certain people, the more familiar they become and the more we like them. …

What Serial Innovators Get Right (and You Can Learn to Do)

July 30, 2020 In the 2018 GE Global Innovation Barometer, nearly three in four global executives believe that a lack of skills is an issue facing their industry. And 64% say this hurts their ability to innovate. Sadly, this situation’s only gotten worse. How to do the most innovative companies get that way, much less sustain their innovation efforts? That’s …

Innovation, Independence and Ideas for All

July 2, 2020 July 4, 2020 marks the 244th birthday for the United States. We’re not alone in our celebration of independence this month. Canada, Rwanda, Somalia, Hong Kong and Burundi have July 1 as their Independence Day. The French celebrate Bastille Day on the 14th. In total, 20 countries recognize days in July for their independence. Independence for any …

The Late, Great Storytelling Hoax (and How to Fix It)

June 18, 2020 A significant number of companies have received scathing responses from customers and the media in the last few months – and rightly so.  They’re making claims to support people and causes when everything about their behavior proves they believe otherwise. It’s clear many brands have a gross misunderstanding of the difference between fiction and nonfiction storytelling–and don’t …

Why Business People Speak Like Idiots

May 14, 2020 It was early 2001. The dot-com-boom had taken people on a Thelma-and-Louise ride and sailed them off a cliff. Enron’s crazy accounting debacle ended up in the largest corporate bankruptcy (until WorldCom out did it a year later). Arthur Andersen execs looked the other way while Enron did their dirty deeds and even helped their buddy out …

Innovation in a Time of Crisis Consulting Speaker

Innovation in a Time of Crisis

April 9, 2020 There’s a scene in the Apollo 13 moviewhen the services module’s No.2 oxygen tank exploded and No.1 tank failed. The explosion forced the mission’s astronauts, Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert, to abandon the command module and squeeze into the lunar module. With no more space than the inside of a VW Beetle, the three found …

Business as (Un)usual

March 20, 2020 I’ve worked from home for the last 19 years. There are a slew of articles that give you tips on how to be productive from your kitchen table or even your couch. Normally, that’s exactly what you need…when it’s business as usual. Getting into a regular routine in your new home office. Or getting the hang of …

Interview with an Innovator: Kathy Button Bell on Creating Whole-Brain Innovation Teams

March 5, 2020 In one of the episodes of the U.S. version of the comedy series The Office, Michael Scott rushes into the scene demanding everyone give him ideas. As the narcissistic regional manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin paper company, he’s looking to make his mark. On his way into the building that day, Michael saw wet …

How to be More Creative (77 Ways)

January 9, 2020 Creativity is one of those things that sounds romantically easy to do, but often leaves you scratching your head. Even the creative geniuses get stumped from time to time. The key to getting your creative mojo going is practice. Consistent practice. Since January is International Creativity Month, I wanted to give you some ideas about how you …

Interview with an Innovator: Tim Washer on Inspiration, Humor and Embracing Vulnerability

November 20, 2019 Mark Twain said that, “Humor is the great thing, the saving thing after all. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations, and resentments flit away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.” He’s not wrong. Studies show that a sense of humor can make you mentally and physically healthier, make you more …

Interview with an Innovator: Michael Brenner on why Mean People Suck

October 24, 2019 Many of the best innovators I know don’t carry an “innovation” title on their business card. They are people who understand that new ideas can happen anytime and anywhere. But that’s not how most of the world looks at innovation. “Innovators” are the design thinkers, the data scientists and the engineers. They’re the ones who have a …

How Embarrassing Moments Lead to Creative Genius

October 11, 2019 I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was my first “real” job – I was the marketing director for a mid-size architecture firm. Every Monday started the same, with a meeting in the conference room. Just me and the five partners of the firm. I felt completely out of my league. They were well-traveled, experienced …

The Rise of the Citizen Innovator

September 26, 2019 Plato once said that your archetype describes “your ideal self.” When a person embraces who they really are, that’s when they’re at their best. Archetypes are the secret forces behind all human behavior. They dwell in our unconscious and influence our every move, much of the time without us even knowing it. If we had to answer …

Making Choices About Choices

September 12, 2019 Making lists is one of my favorite things to do because I like to check things off. At the end of crazy days when I’ve had no control, I’ll make a list and check off what I got done so I don’t feel like I wasted my day. I grew up living near my grandmothers, with whom …

3 Steps to Map (and Improve) Corporate Culture

Last week I was in Singapore to give a workshop and speak at the B2B Marketing Forum. I enjoy talking to marketers from all parts of the world and in all industries, because each person has a perspective that teaches me something new. One thing that bubbles up in conversations is the culture of the companies in which people work. …

Is Your CX an Awkwardly Long Hug?

August 8, 2019 Everyone’s grumbling about customer experience getting worse. Is it our imagination? Nope. It’s a real thing. At least that’s the findings from a report from Oracle and Customer Experience Expert Jeanne Bliss. The new study, One Size Doesn’t Fit All, highlights the lousy experience consumers have with brands. In fact, 82% give brands the thumbs down. Tapping …

7 Ways to Build a Culture of Learning

July 25, 2019 LinkedIn research says that nearly every employee would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. And younger employees – millennials and gen Zs – say the chance to learn and grow is the top thing that inspires them and makes them want to work harder. In fact, this group gives learning …

5 Missed Opportunities for Storytelling

July 11, 2019 Storytelling is everywhere in your company, whether you realize it or not. Marketers are getting the hang of it in their own domain, but miss opportunities to tell stories behind the scenes in every company. Here are the top five that people miss most often: 1. Brand values Your values aren’t window dressing, they’re the ethos for …

Questions or Full Stops

June 13, 2019 There’s an ever-widening gap between what’s natural to us as children and what’s taught into us through the educational system and corporate culture. American author, educator, media theorist and cultural critic, Neil Postman says “children enter school as question marks and leave as full stops.” The same thing happens to employees as they enter the work world. …

How to Build a Culture of Original Thinkers

May 30, 2019 Disruptive innovation celebrates the renegade brands that take an industry by storm. Other companies sit on the sidelines watching with envy as they grab market share and generate incredulous revenue. “Why can’t we be like them?” they ask. People believe true innovators are a rare breed. But in reality, most people are original thinkers. They just need …

Which Type of Employee Are You?

May 16, 2019 In 1968, the deputy director for NASA came to George Land with a problem. Land was a general systems scientist who founded a research and consulting institute to study the enhancement of creative performance. The deputy director told Land that they had a lot of smart people working for them, but they needed a way to root …

Is Management the Enemy of Innovation?

May 2, 2019 A couple of weeks ago I spoke at a conference in Stockholm, Sweden about how to bring new ideas into an organization. At the end, a woman in the audience raised her hand and asked a question: What do you do when management kills your great idea? Hands down, when I talk about innovation and how to …

How to Find Insights

April 5, 2019 Hiero was a tyrant who believed that his goldsmith was cheating him. He didn’t know how to prove it – he suspected the goldsmith was swapping out gold with silver – so he hired Archimedes, a local mathematician and engineer, to prove it for him.   This was an important assignment. The object in questions was a …

Learning Through Looking

March 14, 2019 We spend most of our days tuning out the world. But, if you put down your phone, take out your earbuds and look around, you can find massive inspiration for anything you need. All you have to do is learn how to observe. When we’re kids, we notice everything around us. We paid attention to the smallest …

How to Set Objectives

February 28, 2019 Now that business has moved into the digital world we’re able to measure and predict things like never before. This makes a lot of marketers very uneasy. Marketing’s long been given a hall pass when it comes to accountability. There’s a lot of things we do that, in the past, were impossible to measure. I remember sitting …

Who Owns Innovation?

February 14, 2019 It’s not easy to create an innovation track record like Amazon or Google. But companies that hope to outperform their competitors and shake up their industries are pouring money into innovation programs – labs, hubs and design thinking tanks. But are they successful? Several years ago Booz & Co. (now part of PwC) conducted a Global Innovation 1000 report. …

How to Conduct a Brand Transplant

January 31, 2019 There’s a story of a young boy who showed great promise as an artist. His father, an art teacher himself, sent the boy to schools to hone his talent through rigid academic exercises. A natural finesse had him easily mastering difficult techniques. Instructors entered his work in competitions against more established artists and the student quickly gained the attention …

Why You Have Brand Detachment Disorder

January 17, 2019 In the world of great ideas, there’s iconic brands that get all the credit. Take LEGO, for example. This is a company that sells little rectangular pieces of plastic. But they consistently churn out great idea after great idea. Go to their website and besides ordering products, you can build things, share them with friends and watch videos. Five …

4 Archetypes of Innovators

January 3, 2019 When I give talks or workshops about how to bring new ideas into a company, one of the first things people ask me is how their company compares to other businesses. They’re curious about where they fall on the innovation spectrum. This is how I explain it to them. Who’s allowed to contribute When it comes to innovation, I …

Where Great Ideas Come From

December 21, 2018 One of the biggest complaints I hear from leaders is, “My team never comes to me with new ideas.” They chide. They coax. And they coerce. But…nothing. How can that be? These are the same employees who, their first six months on the job, constantly stood in the doorway of their boss’ office with a slew of …