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I checked out BigSpeak.com to see who’s on the speaking circuit these days and found several fighter pilots, celebrities, ex-CEOs, an Enron whistleblower, an undersea explorer, a swimmer, an “empathy warrior,” and to top it off, a “John Muir impersonator.”

I have no problem with an empathy warrior or a swimmer asking $40,000 to speak to your group, but in good conscience, what’s the value proposition for a speech about swimming laps when that speech costs $1000 per minute?

Don’t get me wrong; I love grandiose meetings. Years ago,  I cut my teeth producing meeting openers with multiple screens and thundering soundtracks. Looking back, the bombast was also kind of pointless.

Sales meetings serve as a key opportunity for the sales reps to become informed and effective evangelists for the brand. And, from the keynote to the wrap-up, meetings should be measured by the degree that people end up on the same page.

For this reason, I’m a big believer in using meetings to build the brand – the brand position and promise, the brand vision and voice. These values are carried out into the world through the attitude and understanding of the team.

Building a meeting around the Brand Story® – Every successful brand is built around a big idea (the brand concept) and a place in the mind of the customer (the brand position). In successful companies, everyone gets this. From the CEO to the person answering the phone, they know what the brand is all about. A BMW commands a different position in the customer’s mind than a Volkswagen.

But most businesses aren’t global brands. The brand position is often poorly defined, if at all.

The good news is that every company carries a wealth of first-hand brand knowledge among the associates. The person in customer service hears the complaints. The person making the sales pitch hears the objections. The guy making the PowerPoints sees the ever-shifting message.

Surveying this knowledge is an eye opener. Everyone isn’t on the same page. Marketing’s idea of the brand story may not be the same one they tell on sales calls, and so on. By surveying and sharing this knowledge while learning how the leading brands do it, the team can build the brand story together, effectively taking ownership.

In this way, an interactive sales meeting ceases to be a passive affair. When you work together to craft a brand positioning statement, that position becomes part of your DNA.

To learn more about the Brand Story® approach, read here.

Building the brand team virtually – I can’t overstress the value of inclusion in building the brand – of letting all voices be heard and including them in the story. But to do so, often requires creativity.

I created a meeting opener for Wing Zone, an international franchise organization that had a problem. As a small company, they didn’t have the budget to fly all of their franchise owners to the meeting. Many of the franchise owners are from the Middle East, Central America, and Southeast Asia. Wing Zone didn’t have the budget for any kind of big media either.

We created a video concept using a news anchor, roving reporter, and field interviews. Using a green screen (set up in my living room), virtual stage set, and non-professional young talent, we built the story around the brand concept: Wing Zone Flavor.

We also interviewed the franchisees around the country, and around the world, via Skype and inserted the videos into the news set. We also interviewed customers. You can see video excerpts above.

If we had had a bigger budget, we would have done it differently, but the goal would have been the same – to build the brand through inclusion – by bringing everyone together who touches the brand.

 

Bruce Miller | Miller eMedia