Brain-Trust Marketing

Maybe the term brain-trust or think tank marketing is new to you so here’s how I define it and how you can use it to your advantage. We’ve all heard the saying that “two heads are better than one”. Brain-trust and think tank marketing put this principle into action. If you want to really understand what’s happening in your community and become a vital part of its fabric you have to connect and become immersed in it. You need to expand the crowd you associate with and tap into the brainpower they possess.

Here are some ideas for gathering the crowd and brains to begin discovering ways to strongly integrate your business and mission with your community.

1. Secure a central location for your meeting: someone’s office, a room at a restaurant, a conference room at a local bank – anywhere that you can comfortably meet at for a few hours in privacy. Don’t forget, everyone appreciates a little food and sometimes it’s a great hook to get the group to show up.
2. Identify members who will bring insight and ideas on how to connect with your community in a stronger way. Here’s a short list to get your started:

  • Community outreach leaders: Crisis pregnancy centers, rescue missions, Teen Challenge and other similar life issue ministry groups.
  • Other local business owners and managers – think of businesses that can compliment what you do or that you could potentially partner with that would be of equal benefit. These could include restaurants (food and refreshments for events), print shops (flyers, business cards, brochures), hobby and craft stores – continue to think of other business leaders that can bring a different perspective to what you are doing.
  • Media:  radio and television personalities, newspaper journalists, local bloggers and social media influencers.
  • Your customers! Our businesses exist to serve our customers so inviting them to be part of a group that will help you connect and serve even more customers needs to be part of the mix of the group.

3. Spread the word and begin to gather!
You’ve identified a venue for your group to gather. You have spread the word. You have a group who is ready to start lending their brain-power to you. Now it’s time to put together the agenda for your meeting. Here is a simple outline to get you started:

  • Introductions (name, company, their responsibilities and expertise) from those attending the group
  • Share your goals for the group and how everyone attending can benefit
  • Ask questions and open the floor to begin to let the ideas and insight begin to flow. Sample questions:
  1. What are the biggest challenges our community is facing?
  2. What products and/or services do we offer that can help with those challenges?
  3. Are there products and/or services that we don’t currently offer, but could, that would make a difference?
  4. How can we (the people in the group) work together to create events or outreaches that will have a positive impact on our businesses and our community?
  5. Is there a local outreach organization like a rescue mission or soup kitchen that all of us could use as a focus point for generating awareness and support? Maybe a new organization could be identified and supported each year.

Set realistic expectations for this group. Understand that this is a beginning and a building process. Overnight success will probably take over several months and years. But the success will be solid and on-going.
Obviously the main goal of this group is to generate ideas that will increase sales and extend the mission of your business. But the ideas that are implemented as a result of this group will also produce: positive word of mouth, customer loyalty and long-term goodwill.

Have you created or been a part of a group like this?

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