Welcome to the Campfire of the Fearless

Homecoming Cowboy Boots

photo by Texas to Mexico


This post first appeared on the National Arts Marketing Project Conference Blog

I have always wanted to be a cowgirl.  Never mind that I was a very tall Chinese American kid in a Jewish Italian neighborhood in Queens.  I still longed to be a wild and free cowgirl with great looking boots of course.    OK, there were not a whole lot of role models out there for me so I had to reinvent myself and my reality to fit my dream.
I still do.

Why is this important?
A lot of what I heard at the National Arts Marketing Conference in San Jose had to do with exactly that.  As a conference blogger, I kept my ears open to all kinds of discussions in workshop sessions, in networking sessions, in the hallways.  Reimagining, reinventing or experiences that we want to share with our audiences on all levels – marketing, the creative process, technology.  There is one idea that has struck me as something extremely unexpected and surprisingly effective.

Try this, design for failure.
Accept that whatever you do successfully today will be a failure tomorrow.  So plan to fail at strategic intervals where you can learn quicker, reinvent yourself and get a newer product out in the marketplace fast.  Consistently.  That is how you build presence and consumer confidence.  It is counterintuitive on all fronts.

Be a game designer, not a game changer.
What is a great game but a carefully and intelligently constructed experience that puts the direct control of the experiencing in the hot little hands of the players.  Failure is built into levels that, instead of punishing you for not succeeding (think back to how you felt when you failed a test in school.  Like crap, I bet and certainly not eager to repeat the experience unless you came from a silently overachieving Chinese family like me and had no choice if you wanted to live another day), players simply replay that level until they master it and move on.  This failure actually breeds thousands of focused, engaged, players across all audience demographics that are extremely loyal to the game and that particular experience.
Who wouldn’t want an audience like that?

How do you do it?
There is art, what we do.  There is technology, and there is marketing.  What will attract that rare commodity of attention, will always be the unique curated experience.  People know they can find infinite amounts of everything on the Internet.  What they are looking for, and will be willing to spend dollars on, is packaged, curated, filtered and singular experiences.  Like a game environment.

Art is the constant of this equation.
Technology and marketing are the shiny and constantly changing variables.

Create failure.
Incentivized failure makes you fearless.  People like that.  They associate fearlessness with leadership.  Let them.  In the mean time, go out there, try new stuff,  (this is the wild wild west for all of us.  You might as well ride the fastest horse and shoot straight).  Fail fabulously, fast, figure stuff out, repeat.

Howl!
Be a good cowboy and come round the campfire later and share your tall tale with the rest of us.

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