Several weeks ago, our team sat down to kick off a work new year.
It’s been a busy few months for us, a lot has changed, and we’re expecting even more to change in 2016. So when we sat down to meet, we had hours of work to do and an incredible amount of information to review and discuss.
So what did we do? We played a board game.
The game, Telestrations, is essentially broken telephone meets pictionary. Players have to pick a card with a list of ridiculous words (for example, Rodeo Clowns) and attempt to draw one of those things on a little whiteboard. The board’s then passed to the player next to them. It’s that person’s job to interpret what’s been drawn and make their best guess at what it is.
They then pass their guess onto the person next to them, who has to make an attempt to draw the guess that the previous player made. The process repeats until every player at the table has guessed and drawn their way through everyone at the table’s board.
It’s exactly as entertaining and ridiculous as it sounds.
So what we were thinking? Why did we spend 20 minutes before an important meeting playing a ridiculous board game?
Because, as crazy as it may sound, board games can be very powerful when introduced in the right work context. Especially for marketers.
For us, the meeting that followed was one of one of the most productive and engaging that we’ve ever had as a team. Kicking things off with a fun board game really seemed to get our team’s creative juices flowing and helped to foster a sense of openness and teamwork – all skills that are uber important for a team of marketers to master.
And that got me thinking. If Telestrations was able to help us think more creatively and work better as a team, what other parallels exist between common board games and the skills we need to master as content marketers?
So I dug into the nether regions of my closet and managed to uncover four random board games that I’ve played at one point or another over the years.
I’ve always loved how deceptively simple chess is. On the surface, it’s just 32 tiny pieces and 64 blank squares. Different pieces of course can make different types of moves, but it’s really not that complicated a game to learn.
But what sets chess apart is that it’s actually the ultimate game of strategy.
Chess is a game that can be over before it really even gets started. If you’re not careful, an early misstep or two can cost you the game before you even know it (in fact, a game of chess can be lost in as little as two moves in what’s known as the dreaded Fool’s mate).
If you’re not careful and deliberate, it can be easy to make the same mistakes when it comes to content marketing.
The best content marketing programs in the world have strategies that are deliberate, calculated, and thoroughly researched. After all, as research from the Content Marketing Institute has consistently found, marketers without a well-defined and well-documented content marketing strategy are far less likely to find success.
If you dive into content marketing without first thinking about your content marketing strategy, you’ll have already lost the game.
Here are a few amazing resources to help you master content marketing strategy:
If you’ve got 30 minutes to kill and you’re looking for a bit of light entertainment, the “game of global domination” otherwise known as Risk is almost certainly not the game that you’re looking for.
The last time I was brave enough to play, it took a mere 8 hours for the winner (not me) to conquer the world and mercifully end the game. Playing Risk is such a herculean task that the game even starred in its own episode of Seinfeld in 1995.
Obviously, Risk is a game that requires almost superhuman endurance and commitment. If you approach it with the wrong mindset, you’ll unquestionably end up disappointed.
Content marketing is incredibly similar. From the outside in, it looks so simple. It’s be easy to create a few blog posts, whip up an eBook or two, do a quick webinar and call it a day, right? Wrong!
As research from the Content Marketing Institute has found, successful content marketers tend to produce a ton of content. In fact, they use an average of 13 different tactics. That’s a lot of webinars, case studies, blog posts, newsletters, events, articles, videos, photos, white papers, infographics, presentations, and social media posts.
But creating lots of content isn’t enough. Scarily, the same research from the CMI found that only 30% of content marketers actually consider their organizations to be effective at content marketing.
You don’t just need a lot of content. You need a lot of knock-your-socks-off content. And that takes a massive investment of time and energy.
If you approach content marketing with the expectation that it’ll be easy, you’ll end up disappointed. It takes real persistence and determination to find success. If you’re not willing to put in the time and effort it takes to develop and execute a world-class content marketing strategy, it’s not worth doing.
Here are a few amazing resources that can help you get into the right mindset (and help you sell others in your organization on why content marketing needs to be a long-term commitment in order to be successful):
A classic commercial for a classic game (thank heavens for the “game cards do not actually talk” disclaimer, by the way).
Since 1979, Guess Who? has challenged its players to ask their opponent a series of probing yes or no questions in an attempt to find out who their opponent’s chosen character is (for example, does this person have brown hair?). A winner is eventually crowned when a player accurately guesses their opponent’s character.
It’s relatively simple and certainly not a particularly difficult game to play, but it does require the winner to demonstrate curiosity, an appreciation of context, and an aptitude for creative research.
And that’s a process that sounds a lot like the one marketers go through when developing or updating buyer personas, don’t you think?
Buyer personas, of course, are fictional representations of ideal customers that represent the foundation of any great content marketing strategy. Building buyer personas takes a tremendous amount of curiosity and diligence, along with the willingness to dig deeper to understand how you can provide value to your ideal customers.
Here at Uberflip, we regularly review our buyer personas to make sure they remain representative as our customer base, our industry, and the marketing ecosystem at large continue to change (in fact, we’re going through that process again right now). And it’s a process that takes a long time. Our marketing team spends weeks chatting with customers, conducting all sorts of research, and combing through statistics.
If you’re new to the idea of buyer personas, these resources can help:
Superfight is a game you’ve probably never heard of. And to be completely honest, it’s a game that I only discovered relatively recently. But from a content marketing standpoint, it might be the most relevant game on this list.
Here’s how it works. You start with two stacks of cards, split evenly between bizarre character cards (to steal an example from the Superfight website, a T-Rex) and cards outlining the powers that said characters can possess (for example, lightsabers and grenades). Combine the character with its powers and voila! Obviously, a T-Rex with lightsabers and grenades would be a force to be reckoned with.
Players then “fight” each other by attempting to gain the support of the other players at the table by combining characters with powers to tell a great story. The player who tells the best story wins.
The same is increasingly true of content marketers.
In the cluttered world of content, the ability to drive a narrative through the use of compelling stories has never been more important or more challenging. Stories help to build trust and encourage a more human connection between a brand a prospect or customer and the ability to build relationships with stories is what separates great content marketers from the rest.
If you’re looking to become a better storyteller, start with these resources:
Bring Your Board Games to the Office
If you have any board games lying around, try bringing them into the office. They’re a fantastic way to have a little fun while also subtly reinforcing several of the key skills required to succeed with content marketing.