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Our son is a video game professional.  

You’re probably thinking, “A ‘video game professional?’ Isn’t that an oxymoron?” 

It isn’t… 

Gaming is serious business—billions of dollars per year serious, with thousands of developers employing tens of thousands of professionals.

This is where you scratch your head wondering, “Why should I care? What does this have to do with me or my shop?”

The answer is simple. More than you think, starting with the basic premise that story matters. Long before the written word is communicated in stories—whether it’s recited, sung or painted on the wall of a cave—we think in pictures, and depend upon language to paint those pictures on to the canvas of our reality.

Stories are something we all share with one another. Or, can.

You have a story. Your business has a story. Is telling it an integral part of your marketing effort?

Seth Godin, bestselling author and entrepreneur, suggests that, “Marketing is the difficult work of telling a story that resonates, of bringing a consistent set of promises to people who want to hear them.”

You should care because the elements that determine whether a game is good or bad have a lot to say about how your business is likely to run. 

A “good game” must meet a precise set of criteria. It must have a clear objective and that objective must be perceived by everyone who plays as worthwhile. It must include the tools necessary to achieve success, a compelling story, an immersive universe and an enticing reward. 

A great game teaches you to win through failure and continued play.

A “bad game” leaves the player wondering, “What’s the point?” The path to success is unclear, forcing the player to wonder, “What do I do? How do I win?” Resulting in a level of frustration that takes the joy out of playing.

Consider these questions in terms of your business:

  •  Have you communicated clearly and often what your goals and objectives are?
  •  Do those goals and objectives resonate with the individuals tasked with achieving them? 
  • Are they consistent with their personal goals and objectives or are they in conflict?
  • Are you heading off in one direction while members of your team are happily marching off in another?
  • Have you provided your people with the tools they need to succeed? 
  • What are their chances for success if you haven’t?  
  • Is your story — the story of your business — compelling enough to fuel your journey toward success? 
  • Is the universe you have created at work immersive and inclusive enough to engage and involve your employees? Your customer-base? 
  • And, finally, are the rewards you have established sufficient? Or, even adequate? 
  • Have you created an environment in which success remains less than clear? 
  • Does each member of your team know and understand what their specific role is? 
  • Do they recognize how their active and voluntary participation will contribute to a “Win,” and how that “Win” benefits them?

Game developers—at least, the good ones—know what it takes to motivate a player. They entice participants with recognition, achievement, affiliation, status, challenge and fantasy. 

That’s no different than running a small business. 

Are you trying to increase routine maintenance sales? Referrals? Positive reviews? Would you like to sell more accessories? Increase the tenure of both your employees and your clients? 

Where do you start? 

I would suggest you become a game developer. Perhaps, not literally. But, in understanding the elements involved in creating a successful future aren’t very different from the elements required to create a compelling video game. A game you’d like to play and win.

If that makes sense, start by defining the “Win.” 

What does success look like? Is it clearly defined, recognized and understood, by everyone? Are you constantly reinforcing the importance of winning and what it will mean to everyone involved in the game? 

Develop and refine your story. That story is far more interesting than you think it is, especially to those who aren’t willing to take the same chances, accept the same risk and uncertainty you experience every day?

Define yourself and your company by that story. Tell it as often as you can, everywhere you can.  Be certain everyone on staff knows and understands it as well as you do, along with the important role it can play in ensuring a win for everyone involved.

Recognize that the game is already in play and that you are more deeply immersed in it than you realize. You’ve already committed all your assets to success: to a win, and there is no real reason for you not to win. After all, others before you have played and won. Why not you?

 

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