Fun in the Sun

I just got back from Hawaii and boy are my arms tired…

How to be Unignorable

We have a running joke at every agency brainstorm meeting. At the point it gets quiet, when everyone is deep in thought on how to solve a challenging marketing problem, I slap the table and say. “I’ve got it! We get a guy dressed up in a costume and have him wave a sign at motorists driving by.” It never fails to get an improvised response. And a few eye-rolls.

Most marketers understand how hard it is to “cut through the clutter.” It the old days, before the internet, we used to say the average person experiences over 500 “ads” a day. That would include the usual radio, television, billboard and print advertising. But it would also include logos and signs one encounters in a daily walk or drive. Today we would have to include the 147 average emails we receive each day and the average 32 hours a month we spend online (I’m sure you spend much more time than that).

A recent survey by Oracle found that folks are now “dual screening.” In other words, they are watching TV and checking their phone. They are doing work on their computer and texting their honey. They are Twittering and Facebooking at the same time. Essentially, we are multitasking both at work and at home and whenever we can.

Which means advertisers have about 30 seconds to command our attention.

Are you still reading this?

The obvious solution to this problem is to be as loud and crazy as possible. At least within the norms of social acceptance. But as we all know, when everyone shouts, no one is listening. We counsel a different approach that is simple in strategy and offers a return on investment. And it’s deceptively simple:

1. Change the conversation

2. Be authentic

3. Engage deeply

The trick, of course, is in doing it just right. But let us elucidate further.

Changing the conversation means to avoid the cliches the rest of your competitors use every day. This requires thinking differently. It also requires thinking like a leader. And you don’t have to be the market leader or the sales leader to be a thought leader. Don’t play the game, change the game—and you will win. Just as we did with the Oregon Humane Society.

When is comes to being authentic, we advise brands to do a little navel gazing, or at least allow us to do it for you. It requires a discipline of recovering your core values and making sure your mission and vision are relevant for internal and external audiences alike. Naturally, we assume that your product or service is worth promoting. Because if it isn’t, the best marketing partner in the world can’t help you. We did exactly that for Pendleton Whisky.

It’s easier now than ever to engage with audiences on a macro and micro level. At the same time. But our belief is that you need to think about how to engage with your customers emotionally. This requires the ability to communicate on a human to human level, to provoke a response and to evoke a sense of personality. How can you go the extra mile to treat your customers as human beings instead of an ATM machine? Can you get more personal? See how we did that for Umpqua Bank.

From here you can choose a host of tactics to implement this strategy. Social Media. Public Relations. Digital advertising. The list goes on and on. But if you follow this framework you will succeed in being unignorable for a very long time. And you won’t need a guy on the street in a costume with a sign pointing to your business.

Would you like some specific examples? Download our brochure, “Be Unignorable,” to see how we created excellent results for clients such as Umpqua Bank, Tillamook Cheese, Benchmade Knives, Omega Morgan and more.

Do you have Infinite Game?

Most likely, you are playing a finite game. And if you are, you are short sighted.

Finite games are about beating the competition. They want to end with a clear winner. Infinite games want to continue forever. They are inclusive and collaborative. They are win-win.

Finite games have clear rules. You play within strict boundaries. Infinite games change the rules over time. They are more creative. The goal is to continue the game forever.

The idea comes from game theory. And it has the potential to inform business, politics and your personal life as well. Philosopher and theologian James P. Carse extended the idea to include all aspects of life in his book, “Finite and Infinite Games, A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility.”

Wikipedia describes the theory and practice:

“Finite games have a definite beginning and ending. They are performed with the goal of winning. A finite game is resolved within the context of its rules, with a winner of the contest being declared and receiving a victory. The rules exist to ensure the game is finite. Examples are debates, sports, receiving a degree from an educational institution, belonging to a society, or engaging in war. Beginning to participate in a finite game requires conscious thought, and is voluntary; continued participation in a round of the game is involuntary. Even exiting the game early must be provided for by the rules. This may be likened to a zero-sum game (though not all finite games are zero sum, in that the sum of positive outcomes can vary).

“Infinite games, on the other hand, do not have a knowable beginning or ending. They are played with the goal of continuing play and sometimes with a purpose of bringing more players into the game. An infinite game continues to play, for the sake of play. If the game is approaching resolution because of the rules of play, the rules must be changed to allow continued play. The rules exist to ensure the game is infinite. The only known example is life. Beginning to participate in an infinite game may be involuntary, in that it doesn’t require conscious thought. Continuing participation in the current round of game-play is voluntary. “It is an invariable principle of all play, finite and infinite, that whoever plays, plays freely” If you think about it, most businesses and individuals are playing a finite game. You achieve a goal and then move on to the next. You want to beat the competition and win the game. But life isn’t like that. We are involved in an ongoing series of events that arguably, continue even when we aren’t “playing the game.”

An example might be the “War on Terror.” Most wars have a beginning, a middle and an end. But with the war on terror, there is no nation or person to either completely subdue or surrender to. It’s not a finite game. It’s an infinite game. And once you reframe this game, you begin to look for multiple solutions, instead of just a handful.

Let’s look at the business world; Amazon is playing an infinite game. The rest of the world is only now catching up to the idea that Amazon wishes to control all of commerce — not just to sell books. The difference between Microsoft and Apple is a study in infinite and finite games. One is playing the infinite game, and one is not. I’m sure you have figured out which is which.

Once you begin thinking about this concept, it opens a new door to the world. One of infinite possibility. Where you can rewrite the rules as you go. And contribute to the ongoing story of our existence.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather play in the infinite game.

What’s Your Story?

When I was a child, around the age of one and a half, my mother would put me in a playpen while she did chores around the house. At the same time, she had the TV on for background noise. And at that time of day, she was watching soap operas. Naturally, a little boy of 18 months paid no attention to the programming. As my mother tells it, I would be happily banging my toys together and rattling my cage while General Hospital was playing. That is until the commercials came on. During the entire commercial break, I stood transfixed as each mini story passed the screen. And when the show came back on, I went back to chewing my toys.

Because of that, mom always knew I would become an adman.

This story is a nice example of the power of story. I could have given you personal stats on where I went to school, how many years I’ve been in the business or the types of clients I’ve worked for, but you won’t remember any of that. However, you will recall a story. Because as many psychologists and anthropologists have documented, human beings are wired for stories.

And now research shows that a good story can increase the value of a product, service or brand. Take a look at the graphic below. Clearly, a good yarn can increase perceived value. It is part of the human condition to be empathetic, to want to be emotionally involved in the theater of the mind. And when we do become involved, we also become attached.

Stories get better results.