How to Effectively Guide Your Customers Through the Journey of Decision

How to Effectively Guide Your Customers Through the Journey of Decision

Do you want to be more intentional and effective in your marketing?

Maybe it’s time to refocus on the journey you want customers to take. As a map is to a road trip, a sales funnel can serve as a guide for your prospects.

Sales are more than just transactions; they involve several stages of decision. Push too hard, and people run. Keep it too casual, and they delay. What is the ideal balance? Creating a sales funnel (or a content path for prospects to follow) can engage people every step of the way.

People can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist, and they won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you.

Here are five stages to consider as you seek to move them from a posture of spectating to the point of final sale.

1. Awareness

In this step, prospects learn about your existence.

Just like dating, before you can introduce yourself to someone, you need to catch their eye. As you consider this stage of communication, ask yourself, “what will drive traffic in our direction? What will spark curiosity or attract interest?” Combining excellent print and digital marketing will put a memorable face on your business.

2. Interest

Now that you’ve got their attention, be sure to keep it!

Here, prospects move beyond general awareness to intentional engagement. Ask yourself “what will engage them enough that they won’t drift away?” Seek to grow a top-of-mind presence while you showcase your skills and build their trust.

3. Consideration

Beyond just flirting, now two parties consider a match.

Your prospect evaluates your product or services, and you work hard to gain their commitment. Ask yourself, “what information do they need to make a decision?” Identify what is holding them back and outline unique selling points or benefits.

4. Action

Now it’s time for the big ask.

What irresistible offer or personal touch can you use to tip them toward action? Use incentives, bonus products, or hints of urgency to close the sale.

5. Retention

Did you know that the probability of selling to a new customer is 5-20 percent, while the chances of selling to an existing customer are estimated at 60-70 percent?

Perhaps the most essential part of your funnel is convincing current customers to keep coming back! After closing the deal ask yourself, “what messages of gratitude or additional incentives can I offer? How can I invite feedback, involve customers in an on-going conversation, or upsell the clients I already have?” The best part of a working funnel is turning one purchase into 10, or 10 sales into 100.

Begin with the End in Mind

To build a successful funnel, you need to start at the bottom. What is your ideal outcome? Define how many subscribers you want or how many products you hope to sell. Quantify the goal, then work backward to plan your marketing. Here’s one example:

The Apple Blossom boutique noticed that when they sent a printed direct mail teaser, about 20% of recipients visited a specific Apple Blossom URL that was created as an online landing page. Of these online visitors, 10% of browsers made a purchase. Using this data, Apple Blossom started at the bottom of the funnel to work backward for their marketing goals. The boutique wanted to make 100 sales for its spring promotion. If 10% of URL visitors would ultimately purchase, Apple Blossom knew they needed to bring around 1,000 people to this online landing page. If only 20% of direct mail recipients would visit them online, the boutique needed to send printed mail teasers to 5,000 individuals.

The Backbone of Customer Relationships

Sales funnels are the backbone of your customer relationships, helping you focus on the right customers and honing these relationships for maximum potential.

Offer people value at every stage and customers will put their trust in you with their wallets and their loyalty.

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How to Sell Your Brand Through Story

Have you ever been introduced to an overly chatty person?

They pause briefly to learn your name, then launch into an extended monologue about their life and interests. After finally “escaping” the interlude, you realize they didn’t ask you a single question.

When you meet someone like this, does it raise a red flag?

This pushy demeanor causes you to lose trust in their entire character. The same can be true in marketing when companies spend too much time talking about themselves instead of authentically connecting with consumers. Without building adequate rapport, marketers prematurely oversell or repel prospects for good.

How can you avoid this mistake? By building connections through story.

The Human to Human Connection

Building brand stories sets buyers at ease and creates the best possible customer experience.

Today’s consumers prefer an increasingly personalized experience, and sharing your brand through story is one of the best ways to build relationships. Brand stories offer a friendly introduction to your company, building trust with a generation that craves distinct, authentic connections.

Many companies don’t think of themselves as a brand or believe they have a story to tell. And that’s just not the case! A brand story isn’t simply a chronological account of your history, it’s a portrait of who you are. Your brand story consists of:

  • What your brand says about itself
  • What your brand does in the world
  • What others believe and say about your brand
  • How people interact with your brand

Here’s an example of one business bringing their story to life:

Chipotle’s Mexican Grill is a brand known for serving “food with integrity.” Chipotle has labeled itself “as real as it gets,” using only 51 ingredients and no heat lamps, freezers, or microwaves. A recent print ad included the line: “For real foods. For real actions. For real change.”

Chipotle seeks to fulfill people’s desire for clean eating and to change the way people think about fast food. The core of this ethos includes respect for farmers, animals, and the environment, and transparent displays of ingredients and producers on every menu. Tipping toward satire, the brand’s recent 51 ingredient billboard campaign featured this phrase: The only ingredient that’s too hard to pronounce at Chipotle is “Chipotle.”

Finding Connection

On a neural level, the brain actually “feels” a story.

Story-based communication brings greater comprehension and allows your listeners to grow in confidence and receptivity because people buy in to what they trust!

To create meaningful customer connections, begin by intentionally discovering who you are talking to and deliver the message your audience wants or needs to engage with.

Build a narrative that is captivating, concise, consistent, and conversational. Then do your best to share this everywhere! Think of your brand story as a steady IV drip of content, delivered to multiple audiences, over many years, in a variety of formats.

Whether it involves large-scale displays, mounted core values, or social media content, ensure your story stays consistent across mediums. Keeping attributes simple and clear will allow consumers to recognize you in every setting and to feel at home with all that your brand stands for.

Bring Your Story to Life

Stories make life interesting because they fulfill curiosity and craving in every person.

Telling your brand story is mission-critical in forging relationships with a generation that desires to buy into more than just a product, but into a narrative that gives meaning and pleasure to their daily lives.

We cannot write your brand story, but we are always happy to help visualize it using print marketing.

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Build Rapport with Readers Using Concrete Customer Personas

What is the value of print in an increasingly paperless world?

An international 2017 study revealed print brought readers greater enjoyment, deeper understanding of a product, and more willing engagement.

  • 68% of people say they do not pay attention to online ads
  • 57% do their best to avoid them.
  • Conversely, 52% prefer to read product catalogs in print
  • 45% of consumers said they like receiving personally addressed advertising or leaflets
  • 46% said they would be more likely to respond after seeing a newspaper or magazine ad (versus viewing the same copy online).

As you craft print messages, how can you build rapport with readers?

A 2014 Edelman Brandshare survey found that the majority of consumers are suspicious of brands’ intentions (only 30% believed companies had a sincere commitment to customers). With this in mind, your marketing should focus less on giving information and more on building trust.

Make Your Marketing All About Your Customers

To create the best possible experience so your prospects are ready to buy, begin with a deliberate focus on the audience (not the company) and invest intentional energy to discover who you are actually talking to.

How do you do this?

By detailing exactly who your target markets are: chronicling their pain points, struggles, or aspirations, and articulating how you can provide a delightful solution or experience for them.

3 Steps for Building Customer Personas

Here are three steps for building customer personas:

1. Ask the Right Questions

Building accurate personas means identifying what your ideal customers have in common, how you can address their desires, and how your products or content can solve their problems.

Ask questions like:

  • What do my ideal customers desire? What do they need help with?
  • What is our target demographic? What are their hobbies or interests? What risks or decisions are they navigating?
  • What professional, personal, or family challenges are they facing? What stirs their emotions (like fear, excitement, or pride)?

Focusing on identity keys makes it easier to develop high-level content that set a relevant tone and cuts to the heart.

2. Talk to People

Once you craft sample personas, go directly to current clients (via calls, e-mail, online chats, or through your sales reps) and find out as much as you can.

Test your assumptions, look for common threads, and write down individual phrases or stories people share. Fill in the gaps and gather as much information as possible.

3. Condense and Consolidate

Once you’ve gathered data, comb through and collate.

Look for common themes like concerns, hopes, desires, challenges. At this stage, craft a rough draft of several marketing personas (at least three to start with).

Brainstorm attributes for each persona, make a succinct list of identity keys, and list connection points your brand can make with these people. Name each persona (i.e. Sarah Student, Soccer Mom Sally, Broker Bill) or add images to make them come alive.

Finding Common Ground

Ultimately, humanized marketing is about delivering the type of messages your audience wants to engage with in mediums they trust the most.

Personas also give you a launchpad for asking the right questions and giving them the power to “win” as they choose for themselves.

In the words of Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible:

“People don’t like to be sold to, but they love to buy.”

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Get Proactive With These Summer Marketing Ideas for Outdoor Events

Get Proactive With These Summer Marketing Ideas for Outdoor Events

Family Relaxing At Outdoor Summer Event

With school ending and summer starting, adults and children alike will be spending as much time as possible outdoors at home and community events. In most locations, summer weekends are chock full of local and regional events that attract a wide array of people. Some events attract local residents of a community or region, while larger events can bring tourists into an area for a few hours, day or an entire weekend.

Summertime creates both opportunities and challenges for marketing to clients. While you may have more opportunities to provide products and materials for events, getting customers to walk in your front door is more difficult. Customers who like to participate in summer activities spend as much time as possible out of doors including taking vacations, days off and leaving early. So how do you take advantage of summertime doings instead of having them take advantage of you?

Opportunities

Let’s start with the opportunities. Since people are out and about during summer at farmer’s markets, fairs and concerts, you may run into clients in one or more of these casual setting simply by participating in them yourself. You should always be ready to hand out marketing materials everywhere you go, especially if most of your clients are local. Fill a pouch or tote with apropos marketing handouts for people you meet when out. Handouts should be family-friendly and summer appropriate such as:

  • Water bottles
  • Water toys
  • Lip Balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Visors
  • Hats

If you give out marketing items that people actually will use in the summer, they will love getting them which puts your contact information in front of them for at least that day. Parents will also love anything that you hand out to occupy their children’s time such as foam fingers or other toys.

Beat the Heat

If handing out materials isn’t appropriate for an event, another idea is setting up a mister tent to help people beat the heat. In fact, handheld fans, water bottles (with water in them), squirt guns and other products that help people cool off will always be appreciated by prospects. Just be sure that your logo and contact information is big and bold. Misters are so delightful during hot summer events that they are very popular with all ages. To engage prospects, hand them small towels with your logo and information to dry off after they get wet.

Keeping Drinks Cool

For food events, cup or can holders that insulate are a fantastic handout. Arrange with food vendors to give them to every customer that gets a drink. Or create event promotional materials such as cups that have a coupon imprinted on them. The ultimate goal is to invite people into your brick-and-mortar business or visit your website, so a coupon offer for a free or discounted service is ideal for giveaways.

Challenges

The biggest challenge for marketers during summertime is to drive customers indoors to your business. People are inclined to spend time outside during warm weather. Additionally, customers may be out of the office for a significant number of days and can’t be reached. Therefore, it is important to think outside the box creatively to find prospects and offer them an incentive that will overcome their reluctance to come in. Every locale has one or more special events unique to that area. Go out of your office to where you will find crowds of people and offer them something that they can’t wait to use.

 


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Affordable Offline Marketing for Your Small Business

Do you have a small business that could use a revenue boost?

Most marketing strategies are crafted around costly advertising campaigns, but there are many free or affordable tactics you can use to grow your business at any stage.

Here are a few offline marketing fundamentals to get you started, no matter how small your budget!

1. Take part in local events.

Sales are based on relationships, and relationships require connection.

Network in proactive ways by attending or taking part in local events. Get to know other small business owners and have your business card or flyer ready; you never know when the opportunity will present itself!

2. Create customized stickers or labels.

It’s not just a kid thing – people truly enjoy stickers!

Create a colorful custom sticker and pass them out anywhere your target users might be. Stickers and labels can be used on car windows, water bottles, notebooks, and more.

3. Start a simple rewards system.

One of the easiest ways to boost your profits is by offering current customers a loyalty incentive.

If you have repeat customers or need subscription/service renewals to succeed, you can print loyalty punch cards, start a digital point-tracking system, or mail coupons to customers who make a baseline purchase with your business.

4. Offer demonstrations.

Life is more fun when you try new things.

If you wanted to learn yoga, woodworking, or the violin, would you learn by watching or by trying? Participation is an essential way to engage the body, mind, and emotions of your prospects.

Brainstorm ways you can combine learning and doing through presentations. Whether it’s giving samples, making online teaching videos, or offering live demonstrations at an industry event, engage your customers by getting them involved.

5. Launch cross promotions.

Is there some way you can build rapport between your business and another firm?

Work with another entrepreneur to offer giveaways, contests, or product discounts. During one holiday, GameStop and PayLess shoes partnered on a cross-promotional campaign. Shoppers at the video game retailer received register coupons for the shoe store, while shoppers at PayLess got discount coupons for GameStop. Because many of their stores are in close proximity, it was a winning strategy for both retailers. Cross promotions can include joint mailings, coupon partnerships, shared booth space, or promoting each other through social media.

6. Spread the word.

Got flyers? Door hangers and sell sheets? Looking to share the love? Go classic and canvas your area.

Pound the pavement and leave your print materials on porches, doorknobs, windows, cars, and more. Leave your business cards on restaurant tables, at coffee shops, in libraries, or even on mirrors. If you’re feeling brave, do some cold calling after you canvas and ask if you can share some follow up info.

7. Perfect your pitch.

What do you sell? What problem can you solve? If you can’t explain yourself in a single sentence, then you have a problem.

Like a great campaign slogan, an elevator pitch should summarize your business, product, or service in a concise, convincing fashion. YOU are your best advertisement, so have a short, convincing statement ready to introduce your business to new customers or colleagues any moment the opportunity is at hand!

A Building Block for the Future

Most of these tactics are inexpensive, but they do take time and effort.

Remember, results won’t come immediately, but boosting your name now can increase your revenue and enable you to cast a larger net in the future. Give us a call or visit our website to chat about affordable printed resources you can add to your offline marketing arsenal today.

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Test Your Brand Messages to Maximize Impact

Donald Miller is an author, speaker, and CEO of StoryBrand, a company that helps businesses clarify their message.

StoryBrand helps hundreds of brands to eliminate confusion, connect with customers, and grow sales. Miller says many brands struggle to break through because they don’t test their brand messages before sharing:

“We have a mantra at StoryBrand: If you confuse, you lose,” said Miller. “The answer to confusion is always ‘no’. When people are so close to what they offer, they tend to be either really vague or they speak inside language. I’m amazed.

“I’ll actually say to somebody, ‘Do you think on a scale of 1-10 that your message is really clear, from 1-10 with ten being clear?’ They will say they are a 10. I will tell them to come up in front of the group [and] ask them to tell me what they offer. They will say, ‘Nutritional packages that allow equestrian products to flourish.’”

Clear as mud, right? Miller says professionals often fail to use simple phrases people can easily understand:

“Here’s the thing, test it at Starbucks. You’re standing in line . . . there are strangers all around. Say, ‘I’m so sorry to bother you, but I’m actually starting a business. Can I tell you what I offer and then ask you if you understand?’”

Does Your Message Resonate?

Companies allocate enormous resources to hone their message.

A brand message, communicated to your target audience, describes what you do, the value you bring, or how you’re different. Your brand message should resonate with the needs, wants, or luxuries of your niche, sometimes with simple slogans like these:

 Eat Fresh.

     Designed for Driving Pleasure.

     Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There.

Strong brand messages are memorable, stir an emotional response, and distinguish a brand from its competitors. But when companies hone their identity, they sometimes miss a key element: relevance to their customers. What’s important to your company may not be the thing that matters to your customers. Consider these questions to clarify:

  • Why does my brand matter? Why does it matter to our customers?
  • What does our brand stand for? How will this affect our customers?
  • How are we different than competitors? Why does this matter to our customers?

When you don’t speak to customers on their terms, you are probably falling short. Be clear on what your customers care about and how you can address their situation. Use language that is authentic and messages that align with your clients’ desires or purchasing plans.

Also, consider testing brand messages before publicizing them. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by simply reading your copy out loud to yourself. Does it sound conversational and real? Then test it out on others. Poll your friends and family, create anonymous surveys for staff and clients, run focus groups with target audience members, or do a website trial with a third-party testing tool. As you move forward, consider logging the impact of:

   Product descriptions

   E-mail subject lines

   Print ads, graphics, or layout options

   Call to action statements

   Packaging colors or logo designs

   Slogans/taglines

   Online landing pages

   Advertising campaign concepts

   Time or location an ad is presented

While testing takes work, business leaders agree it is worth the effort: 72% of advertising professionals said it’s important to test an ad before it’s launched, and 85% of product-focused managers said testing is vital to their success at work. Testing content can sharpen your focus, make your message more relevant, and boost the response to your marketing pieces.

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Use Short Deadlines to Get Lasting Results

In a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, scholars found that longer deadlines can be a detriment to workers.

The study asked volunteers at a local community center to answer a short survey about retirement planning. One group was given seven days to access the online survey, while another group had 14 days to respond. Results showed that, though the 14-day group gave more thoughtful responses, they were more likely to procrastinate or skip the assignment.

A second study revealed longer deadlines affected outcomes on tax filings. In this research, a short deadline group received their “lost” W-2 tax form later (closer to the filing deadline) and had less time to complete their taxes. Despite the setback, the short-deadline group spent less money than their peers to get the same job done via tax professionals or self-help software.

Beat Those “Last Mile” Blues

Do you struggle to take projects across the finish line in an efficient manner?

There’s a reason! Parkinson’s law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Longer deadlines lead people to set easier goals and decrease effort, costing more time and stress overall. Researchers also found that longer deadlines sometimes make workers think an assignment is harder than it is. When people commit more resources to a difficult task, they procrastinate and are more prone to quit.

For managers and workers alike, it is important to set achievable goals and appropriate time limits using four simple strategies.

Think Small

Procrastinators who avoid finishing struggle to break projects into manageable tasks.

To overcome this barrier, psychology professor Joseph Ferrari (author of Still Procrastinating: The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done) recommends a narrow focus. “People who have trouble finishing a project don’t have problems seeing the big picture,” Ferrari said. “It’s how to break it into manageable tasks that can be paralyzing. Just do something now. Start something and get going.”

Starting small breaks your fear of failure and shortcuts perfectionistic hang-ups.

Stay Disciplined

Sometimes when the finish line is in sight people accelerate the pace but lose focus.

Discipline slips, which can lead to delays. Overriding budgetary constraints, ignoring quality control checks, or fast-tracking publications can bring painful consequences. Instead, stay on track with small deadlines to ensure work on larger projects is done in a timely, precise manner.

Call in the Closers

Burnout and fatigue are genuine risks near the end of a project, and high-value contributors are often needed to airlift the next big project.

Consider deliberately structuring your team so starters take a project to 90 percent, while fresh eyes step in for the final spit-and-polish.

Use Incentives

When deadlines are distant, shift attention to everyday outcomes.

“Can you get that to me by the end of the day?” isn’t a request many people like to hear. But quick turnarounds can actually boost morale because lethargy breeds inertia but accomplishment spurs accomplishment.

From cash incentives to extra work-day coffee breaks, consider attaching small perks to fast-action deadlines. Self-starter rewards can work for yourself too. When writing her thesis, one grad student filled a glass jar with tantalizing chocolates. Throughout a year of writing, she rewarded herself with one truffle per week as she stayed on schedule. Progress was visible, and the rewards were sweet. When the jar was empty, the project was done!

Short turnarounds on urgent tasks elicit attention and improve outcomes. Whether you’re managing yourself or others, consider adding incentives, bringing in closers, or breaking large projects into daily deadlines to achieve better results.

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Four Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content

Do you want to bring your brand story to life and make your marketing messages more memorable?

Andi Bell, the World Memory Champion of 2002, appears to have memory superpowers.

He can memorize the order of several decks of cards and recall them on the spot. How does he do it? Bell uses a location-based memory strategy, like this:

Bell picks a route through London and walks it repeatedly until it is fixed in his mind. As he walks, he associates cards of the deck with a character (like a bear or a pineapple), then connects each character and card with a site along his route: the bear becomes the House of Parliament, the pineapple becomes Buckingham Palace, etc. In this way, the deck transforms from a string of facts to a story to share. Each deck has roles that come to life mentally as Bell “walks the plot” of his route in London.

Make Your Words More Memorable

While you may not have memory superpowers, we all recognize the power of retention and its impact on marketing.

When you share memorable content, it shapes people’s perceptions and positively disposes them toward business with your company.

Do you want to bring your brand story to life and make your marketing messages more memorable?

This is harder than it used to be. In a recent study, Microsoft found our average attention span has decreased from 12 seconds (in 2000) to about eight seconds today, with viewers exposed to up to 5,000 ads daily.

Audiences are bombarded by content, so yours needs to be memorable! Here are four principles to keep your communication as “sticky” as possible:

1. Follow the Rule of Seven

Sales are more than transactions; they involve a journey of decision.

People can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist, and they won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you. Typically, people need to see your message at least seven times before they consider your offer. Don’t expect people to respond immediately. Offer different methods to replicate your story to increase the odds that they’ll respond.

2. Use Powerful Headlines

Advertising guru David Oglivy estimated that, because four out of five people only read the headlines, when you write a good headline, “you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Since we encounter volumes of content each day, we can’t possibly read it all. Great headlines come in many forms. Some are short, others are newsworthy, and many feature a strong product benefit. The best headlines are specific. Which of the following impacts you more?

“How to Improve Production Yields This Season”

OR:

“This Little Mistake Cost One Farmer $3,000 a year”

3. Be Funny

The most memorable messages make you laugh.

When Clutch Media interviewed consumers to find what kind of ads they prefer, people overwhelmingly chose ads that made them want to eat or laugh!

Humor is key to making content memorable, especially when messages are specifically tailored to your audience. Data showed that 53 percent of consumers are likely to remember content that is humorous!

4. Use Detailed, Personalized Stories

Which is more memorable: A stroke response fact sheet or a heart-wrenching brochure about a woman who dismissed her husband’s fatal symptoms when he said he was “just tired?”

Stories share messages in solid, emotionally moving, unforgettable ways. The more people connect with a story, the more they’ll remember it, so use stories that are specific, personal, and relatable to the clients you want to reach.

Package It With Perfection

In the end, HOW you share is just as important as WHAT you share.

Looking to package your content with noteworthy style? From stunning sell sheets to dynamic postcards and brochures, we’ll bring superior craftsmanship that is guaranteed to add impact!

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Grow Creativity with the Brainstorming Strategies of Walt Disney

Grow Creativity with the Brainstorming Strategies of Walt Disney

From Tarzan’s treehouse to the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Disney’s creative team has spent decades constructing fantasy lands depicted in Disney movies.

Bringing dreams to life is Disney’s business, and its empire spans 11 theme parks, a town, four cruise ships, dozens of hotels, and many waterparks and restaurants that help guests experience the happiest place on Earth.

The dreamers, or “Imagineers” at Disney are the brains behind the vision. Peter Rummell, who served as chairman of the Imagineers for 12 years, said creativity doesn’t just happen. It has to be engineered:

“It is a process and if you don’t understand that and if you sit around and wait for the lightning bolt, you’re not going to be very productive.”

Walt Disney himself was a master of creative thinking and brainstorming. Not only was he talented in discovering ideas, he knew how to convert possibilities into reality. One associate said this about Disney:

“There were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler. You never knew which one was coming to the meeting.”

Disney’s Strategic Brainstorming Techniques

Over time, Walt’s team used his own attributes for guiding thoughts to build parallel thinking in groups, while at the same time generating concepts, critiquing ideas, and solving problems.

NLP expert Robert Dilts helped bring the technique to life, like this:

  • Four parts of a room were set up for different thinking methods: imagining, planning, critiquing, and for stepping outside the concept. Arranging a physical space for each mindset prepared teams to switch from one thinking mode to another.
  • Teams gathered with a target objective: an innovation to brainstorm, a problem to solve, or a process to improve. While dreamers practiced unhindered green light thinking, planners used red light critiques to define the how, the timeline, or the plan.
  • Meanwhile, critics and the concept overseers analyzed weaknesses of the plan, defining missing elements, gaps in the process, or obstacles to address.

Rotating between spaces allowed teams to transition from unhindered passion to logical plans. Impossible ideas weren’t immediately squashed. And through this defined creative process, teams could generate solid creative ideas with an action plan to apply it.

Unlock Creativity in Your Team

Though Peter Rummell has since moved on from the Imagineers, he says his time at Disney taught him three valuable lessons for guiding teams in creative thinking:

1. Entertain ideas from everyone.

“I think one of the major lessons I learned was that despite the hierarchy of an organization, an idea can come from anywhere.”

Top leaders should be willing to listen and younger team members should be encouraged that everyone has a voice.

2. Build an eclectic team.

“An accountant sitting next to a poet is a really good idea,” Rummell said.

High IQs are not pre-requisites to creative success. When teams are full of variety, often the least likely people can generate the best concepts. Varying skill sets help to energize the best ideas and to round out gaps in the plan.

3. Vet even the strangest ideas.

When Rummell’s team was brainstorming waterpark ideas, they were totally stalled.

“We didn’t want to do another Pirates of the Caribbean or some Caribbean island,” Rummell said. “We were trying to figure out what would be fun or different.”

Everything sounded silly until someone left for the bathroom and walked by a cubicle decorated in snowstorms. Though the idea of a freak Florida snowstorm sounded ridiculous, eventually the idea became “Blizzard Beach,” the theme of an entire waterpark in Orlando.

Creativity doesn’t just happen, so get resourceful and create some new brainstorming processes of your own. When you’re ready to roll out new concepts, we’ll help you bring them to life in print!

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Use Game-Based Learning to Train Your Employees

Ethel Merman thought people should lighten up to really live, crooning these lyrics in 1931:

“Life is just a bowl of cherries: don’t take it serious, it’s too mysterious . . .

Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh at it all!”

Is life all fun and games? Definitely not.

But leadership experts are finding that one of the best ways to train people is by helping them laugh and compete as they learn through play.

United States… Gaming?

Recently, the US Army employed “serious gaming” to address challenges in their leadership training.

While soldiers were very capable in weapons and war strategies, the Army found its forces need to grow in their soft skills by increasing familiarity with the values, norms, and cultures where they were deployed.

First Person Cultural Trainer, a gaming simulation, was developed specifically to help junior leaders understand the consequences of their speech, body language, temperaments, and choices. Trainees used a 3D avatar to interact and work with individuals in a foreign community and to gain feedback on how their choices affected their ability to build rapport. Students progressed through four levels of gaming to build communication, interpersonal, and intelligence gathering skills.

Games for the Win

Advances in game-training strategies have steered many organizations toward a more recreational focus in their corporate cultures.

Games and stories are a fundamental part of human life: according to one study done by Essential Facts, in 2016 more than 60% of households in America had someone playing video games regularly. Humans excel in games because we love reward-based challenges, especially when objectives become progressively harder or more addictive!

To embed gaming in their corporate training culture Cisco used a “LiveOps” call center to challenge competing agents, ultimately reducing call time by 15% and improving sales by an average of 10%.

A Colorado restaurant gamified its objective to increase sales of specific menu items. When they sold a 4-pack of cinnamon rolls, staff could play online “point-yielding games,” and reward points were redeemable for a branded debit card. One study estimated this restaurant realized a 66.2% ROI due to the increase in sales productivity.

Why do games work? Game training is effective because it:

  • Motivates employees to surpass expectations or to complete training exercises
  • Allows people to fail and try again without negative repercussions
  • Makes time for real-time reflection and feedback sessions
  • Grows individual confidence in carrying out tasks (as people practice, break challenges into micro-learning segments, and accurately perceive their ability to succeed)

Game Options of Your Own

Want to improve productivity or increase the cost-effectiveness of your team training?

Games offer hands-on, motivating opportunities that can be used over and over. Purchase simulations like GameLearn training platforms, or consider three hands-on options of your own:

1. New Hire Scavenger Hunt.

Whether it’s a physical or online hunt for facts, facilities, or people, get people competing and moving and calm their nerves in the process.

2. Product Knowledge Mix and Match.

Employees take turns being introduced to a variety of customers (including purchasing needs, budget, or personal background).

Players then compete to match the best product to each customer while negotiating a deal or completing the sale.

3. “What If” Training Simulations.

These games give teams the opportunity to explore hypothetical situations.

If they made XX decision, what would happen? Assign real-life tasks and challenges, allow teams to collaborate and present options, and process together about the benefits or consequences of the strategies they chose. Added bonus: supervisors learn alongside employees and gain hands-on experience in leading their teams!

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