Tag Archives: experience

Pinball Wizard

Creature pin

I love pinball machines and that’s partly because they remind me of those halcyon days of my youth – inexorably linked to car culture – of carefree days (and nights) cruising to games arcades, milk bars and making a play for pinball wizardry.

Apart from the nostalgia trip, they’re also works of engineering, design and art crammed into a wooden cabinet.  If you don’t know what I mean, get a load of one some day and take note of the artwork, the design, the colour, the screen-printing (yes, screen-printing; heard of that?), the lights, the sounds, the themes and of course the design of the game play.  Way more character than a PlayStation, but I digress.

Most of all though, I simply love the challenge of playing them because no two games are ever the same (ever).  That got me thinking about the insight to be drawn from pinball, applied to marketing and business planning (particularly in the context of a more strategic, longer run view).

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“Come fly with me…”

Being remarkable and memorable involves deliberate steps.

Change the scheme.
Alter the mood.
Interrupt the routine.
Be unexpected.

Need an illustration and example? Watch how this (now famous) airline steward does just that during the usually mundane cabin announcement before the tragic experience that’s air travel in the now times.

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“Won’t bind your legs”

ActionJeans_ChuckNorris
Have you ever had one of those days where you learned absolutely nothing, gained no knowledge at all?  It feels empty and incomplete.

A day without gaining any knowledge at all is a day wasted, no matter what else happens, because knowledge is currency and one day you might need to draw on it.

Whether it’s trivial or mountain-shifting, edifying or entertaining, there’s always something new to be discovered. Learning a single piece of something can also start you on a trail of discovery that can uncover a whole series of thoughts, ideas and insights, which in-itself is always exciting.
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Unexpectations

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If you want to change (or even reset) the way people think about your brand and what you offer, you won’t do it by telling stories that are expected.  Communicating the same idea as always doesn’t change behaviour, invite new actions, craft positive experiences or create deeper engagement.

At all.

You need unexpectations to do that.

I got a late call up to goal-umpire my son’s under 13 AFL match at the weekend.  I’ve never done it before (it’s a high pressure job and I like to keep Saturdays a bit calmer) but, ever the willing helper, I jumped in there with my white flags and did the job.  It didn’t take long for the controversy to follow.

The goal umpire’s job (expectedly) is to call if the ball goes through for a goal or a behind.  When a goal is scored in AFL, the goal umpire is supposed to get quickly to a spot exactly in between the posts, stand very straight, leave a little pause for suspense and then shoot both cuffs with elbows bent, followed by a choreographed waving of both white flags.  This tells the opposing goal umpire that a goal’s been scored and both cards are compared at the end of the game to make sure the scores match.

It’s expected that this will all be done with an impressive level of sequence, poise and steely seriousness.

During this particular under 13′s game, where there’s no salary cap and all the players have day-jobs (i.e. school), I concentrated on getting the main thing right and was less worried about the formalities, which is to say calling the goal, casually shooting the cuffs and waving the flags without necessarily thinking about whether it was the right way (which I didn’t know anyway), just that it was seen.

As a result my actions invited the attention of the officials and evoked a response.  It wasn’t positive but it was a response all the same (elbows bent).  I’d raised their unexpectations.

The goals (and behinds) were still scored and recorded.  The opposing goal umpire’s tally matched mine.  I wasn’t less professional than the other umpire though I certainly had more fun.  It was the expectation that I’d act like all the other goal umpires that attracted the attention and response of the officials (and one or two of the crowd).  I’d cut through by being unexpected.

The next time you’re crafting or telling a story about your brand, wanting to cut through and attract attention, you could probably do a lot worse than bringing an unexpectation or three into the mix.

What do I know?

Before I meet you I may not know what you do, what you sell, what it does, who (or why) it impacts or what market gap it fills or shifts.  I may not know anything about your business, cause or mission.  In fact, there’s every likelihood that as far as your business, product, market and goals go, you know bucket loads more than I do.

So what qualifies me to tell you how you should market, what media channels you should look into, what strategies and tactics you should employ to build your brand and your business as a whole?

I’m not going to bore you with my background but if you want to, please follow this self-promotion link.

Learning and experience is where most strengths lie.  Knowing what works, how and why.  Taking what’s basically a standard marketing framework and adapting it to your unique proposition via thoughtful analysis and following it with daring action.

Insight is one of my strengths.  I see angles and stories not everyone else does, which form the basis for cut-through strategy, creating unique positioning, memorable experiences and communications tactics that raise a ruckus with desired audiences.

Through my experiences and learning I created my own pathway, if you like (framework is kind of last year) that I use to bind and check the elements (and progress) of a plan, both strategically and tactically.  It was a long, provocative, creative process to get to this, though it doesn’t look that way when you’re just reading 6 words on a page (one never sees how much work goes into something and in a sense, that’s a good thing).

Invite, Entertain, Interact, Experience, Engage, Motivatetm can be applied at the grass-roots level of a single, tactical piece of communication or as deep, strategic and paradigm shifting as organisational change, IT systems, value-chain integration or account management systems, customer experience systems or brand repositioning.

Though it’s my trademark, it’s not a trade secret (but the way I apply it is).  In fact I think it’s pretty basic, though it’s amazing how many marketing or communications plans I see that don’t do it.

If what you’re planning doesn’t answer “yes” to the question “does it?” for the first five words (or binds together with another tactic to answer the queston), then you’re going to struggle to create motivation, which should be the desired action of any marketing or broader business plan.

I felt it was important to say that.

Activation, not information, is the key

We’re all bombarded with government ads, community service announcements, new websites and nice, glossy (expensive) brochures that tell us what we should be doing to change our habits for a positive impact on us or our environment.

For the most part, most of us agree, but then what do we do with the information?  What motivates us into action?

I could write lots of theory and puff up my own successes, but this site shows us exactly how it’s done http://thefuntheory.com/

If you’re not smiling after watching this, check your pulse and call a medic.  This site demonstrates exactly how to things get done (not just talked about) and is a fried gold initiative.  Not only does it have longevity built in, the strategy rewards the creator (Volkswagen in Sweden, in this case) by rewarding entrants for true innovative action.  It builds massive brand credibility through active engagement with community, not just through an idea but through real, solid, measurable action.

The idea also has connotations for your marketing communications strategy as well.  Information is important but activation is the key.  Activation will follow experience by a factor of millions (slight exaggeration, but it’d be a lot) over an ad alone.

Make your messages more engaging and outcomes-focused by BEING engaging.  Think it through, be daring and provocative (not controversial) and your cause, brand or business will benefit.