August 20, 2014
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Many gameshows have rules that are incredibly easy to understand and have changed very little over the decades (apart from the increasingly orange-tinged hue of many of the presenters). Their simplicity is what makes them popular among people of all ages.
Although it would appear that digital marketing and gameshows are as distinct as chalk and cheese, they actually have a lot in common. One such similarity is that there is usually an element of luck involved — this is what makes gameshows so enjoyable to watch, and the world of online marketing such an exciting industry to be involved in. Even the brainiest of contestants/online marketers need to hedge their bets sometimes, and the result often hinges on things that are totally out of their control.
Therefore, as a self-confessed metaphor junkie (see how many you can spot in this post) and gameshow enthusiast, I turned to Bruce Forsyth et al. to highlight the some of the common characteristics that are shared by strategic planning and the typical TV gameshow.
In this popular Channel 4 gameshow, contestants have to answer eight general knowledge questions correctly in order to win £1 million. However, instead of having to be 100 per cent sure of an answer, contestants can hedge their bets by splitting their money across multiple options.
When coming up with a strategy, you need to take your £1 million (a client’s time and money) and invest it in the methods you feel will guarantee you the maximum output. This could be a mix of paid and organic, or technical SEO and content marketing. Whatever combination you choose, going for a rounded campaign strategy makes more sense than putting all your eggs into one basket in the hope of a big win.
In Tipping Point, contestants have to answer questions to win counters worth £50, which they then drop into an arcade-style coin-pusher machine. They choose one of four drop zones in the hope of pushing the most counters into the ’win zone’.
One of the most difficult parts of strategic planning is trying to invest your time and money in the channel/method that will produce the best output in the ‘win zone’. This applies regardless of whether your desired output is traffic, revenue, goals, conversions, links or newsletter subscriptions.
However, be careful not to focus on just one method too much, as this is somewhat inefficient and may be detrimental to complementary channels. Once you have spent a lot of time and effort to get the metaphorical pile of tokens to the ‘tipping point’, ultimately leading to a breakthrough in output, having to repeat the process from scratch and generate momentum all over again can be an arduous task. It is better to steadily build up momentum across different platforms, as the overall output will be greater.
The aim of this game is to provide the most obscure correct answers. ‘Pointless’ answers are the correct answers that none of the panellists gave, making them worth zero points and therefore hugely helpful in trying to obtain as low a score as possible.
Many strategies are designed in the hope of gaining sustainable competitive advantage, and one of the best ways to do this is by having unique resources. These could be anything from a tool or employee to relationships with influencers.
This is exactly the same as a ‘pointless’ answer: try not to get hung up on emulating your competitors, and instead come up with an idea that hasn’t been done before. However, it still needs to be a good fit for your business, in the same way that a ‘pointless’ answer has to be a correct one.
For anyone that hasn’t switched on a TV since 1982, Countdown is a gameshow involving word and number puzzles. Each episode has two contestants competing in three different disciplines:
I’m going to focus on the numbers round for this particular metaphor. This is because when coming up with a marketing strategy, you are usually given a range of assets (numbers), which you are supposed to leverage to achieve an agreed output (target number).
You may not need to use all of the assets, and it’s not always possible to hit the target exactly, but the key to a good marketing strategy is knowing how to harness the full potential of what you have in order to get as close as possible.
To recap, gameshows can teach us a lot about strategic planning:
Can you think of any other examples that would fit this post? Leave a comment below, or join the conversation on Facebook!
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