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Five Planning Disruption Tips for Small to Medium Sized Businesses

Planning Disruption combines several of the most influential marketing ideas we’ve seen and read – MIT’s Joi Ito’s Nowism Ted Talk, Discovery Driven Planning by Rita McGrath and Ian MacMillan, and A Good Digital Strategy Create A Gravitational Pull in Harvard Business Review. We combine ideas to share five tips for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

  • Community & Collaboration – Leave Room for “them”
  • Nowism – Build flexible processes capable of responding to what is happening now
  • Thinking – Think like a startup but value people over things
  • Mashup – Take advantage of OPP (Other People’s Platforms)
  • Ask for Help – Be confident and courageous enough to ask for help

Planning Disruption – Collaborative Community

How we create, develop, and execute strategic plans is changing. Planning used to be a hermetically sealed internal process. Planning disruption can’t be hermetically sealed. Listening is the first step to developing a collaborative community and a disruptive plan.

Listening, like any skill can be learned, incorporated into plans, and valued. Value, it turns out, is the best signal to send. When you hold up and share something, you learned from a customer your, “We listen,” talk matches your walk. Every company says they care about customers, however few follow more than 50% of their social media followers. Don’t make that mistake.

Here are examples of ways to build “digital listening” into your planning disruption process.

  • Polls – Polls are great because you’ve done most of the work and are only looking for reactions
  • Surveys – Surveys require more work so ask your most committed customers to take them
  • Sharing – Share important details about your business such as “best sellers” and “favorites” by different customer segments
  • Examples – Find and share examples that illustrate your brand philosophy, commitment, and reward system
  • Language – Look to use customer language, keywords, and phrases as much as possible (you modify to them not other ways)
  • Schedule – Schedule weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly features to reinforce digital listening and increase feedback
  • Value – Provide 90% social rewards and 10% somewhat serendipitous rewards (don’t violate the Drive rule)

Planning Disruption with the One%ers

“Drive” refers to Drive: The Surprising Truth Behind What Motivates Us book by Daniel Pink. Pink asks an important question – why do we presume money and material rewards are the most significant enticement? His research shows material reward is relevant to a minority. “Do the right thing” and “quid pro quo” guide the majority.

When planning is an extension of your collaborative community, it’s easier, faster, and better. A friend who managed a psychology website complained when his request for reviews didn’t produce content. That’s not the way trust works online. Do more than asking for help. Show how much help matters, is valued and makes a difference.

We like to “seed” reviews by asking one%ers to contribute. One%ers reference the 1:9:90 Rule:

  • 1% of a website’s traffic will provide user-generated content (UGC) and other substantive content, comments, and ideas
  • 9% will share a site’s content especially when content shared comes from the one%ers
  • 90% of a website’s traffic reads and so is harder to engage, but “readers” are necessary to rank heuristics such as time on site and pages viewed

When you digitally listen asking for help produces results. When you build listening into disruptive plans you do what larger sites such as Amazon, Google, or Twitter can’t do – you hear, respond and change. Customers want inclusion, to be asked to join, and recognition. Low prices and fast delivery are great, but they don’t create relationships with the majority of your customers. The majority looks to join something bigger than them.

Planning Disruption – Nowism

Best to let MIT’s Joi Ito explain why NOW is the only time that matters online.

Planning Disruption – Startup Thinking

Startups are hungry, willing to take risks, and disruptive. Startups are courageous. They look for ways to matter, make a mark and find a movement others want to join. Startups are natural “movement marketers” with a single flaw.

Startups often focus on things and processes instead of people. In a land of plenty, we buy from those we LOVE and from those who love us. Share your journey, feelings, and mistakes. Listen more than you talk. Your website, company, and business will find fellow travelers willing to help, collaborate, and share. Startups know another important “new marketing” truth – they can’t go it alone.

We are only as good as our ability to form tribes. No one climbs this new Everest alone. You must share until it hurts. Community starts with one entrepreneur, owner, or passionate advocate willing to risk all in service to a cause, love or passion. No risk, no reward, and no risk mean no community, collaboration or trust.

Planning Disruption – Meshing Mashups

Meshing and mashups are key ideas for any small to medium sized business who wants to create planning disruption. Little guys must use OPP (Other People’s Platforms) to succeed. Here is the author of Meshing: Why The Future of Business Is Sharing explaining how to use Other People’s Platforms to succeed against giants.

Planning Disruption – Ask For Help

Researcher, storyteller, and author Brene Brown write how vulnerability is crucial to our ability to connect and creating a connection is the reason we’re here. We agree. Asking for help is an expression of online vulnerability.

Brown’s research shows those who embrace vulnerability see it as part of why they are “beautiful” in their imperfection. The parallels to digital marketing and web design are too numerous to list. Is your marketing suffering from a tyranny of perfection or are you out there, warts and all, sharing and connecting?

Watch three minutes of Brown’s TED Talk to illustrate why perfect is a prescription for frustration while vulnerable, incomplete and imperfect wins hearts, minds, and loyalty online.

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