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A 70’s board game can be an inspiration…

Growing up in the UK in the ’80s was a great experience for me.

I was lucky, I lived in a quiet cul-de-sac, meaning I and my friends in the area were regularly out and about playing on the streets. Whether football, cricket or bombing around on our bikes, summer was a blissful time.

When we moved in, many of the houses on the street weren’t finished being built, and on many a weekend we’d run around the scaffolding  and partially built homes have lots of fun (obviously the concept of health and safety wasn’t very strong at the time considering some of the scrapes we got into!)

However, once summer was over it and the rain started to fall it was back indoors for more fun.  Nowadays, you wouldn’t get most teenagers away from the computer/ipad/console, but for me growing up, it was rather less technical.

This was the golden age of three dimensional games.  We’re not talking about the flat board games such as Monopoly or Risk… rather the more interactive games that were manufactured in plastic (and garish colours).  Raise your hand if you remember Buckaroo, Kerplunk, Battleships, Operation and Guess Who.

Many a happy hour was wasted in childhood playing these games… but one in particular always sticks in my mind.

Mousetrap!

The game mousetrap (for those not a child of the ’80s) is a combination of a traditional board game, along the lines of snakes and ladders, but pushing a mouse around the board, combined with a Rube Goldberg/Heath Robinson contraption that you built throughout the game. The end goal being to use the device to trap your competitors mouse in a cage and win.

I still remember the joy I had when I received the game at Christmas… and if memory serves me right, ignoring the game completely and building the mechanism just to see it work.

…and it didn’t.

Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I was learning a lesson that would resonate throughout my career as a marketeer… that if it doesn’t all fit together, it won’t work.

The thing was that MouseTrap was essentially lots of bits of plastic that you linked together to construct the final process… and whether due to poor manufacturing process, my baby sister chewing on one of the pieces, or not packing it away quickly, it was always really hard to get everything linked together perfectly…

When they did finally click and link together with a bit of brute strength and twisting… and it worked, it was great… but checking and testing it to make sure it did fit together and work was a labour of love (and a bit of frustration).

So what’s all this got to do with marketing and email marketing?

Well I’m hoping it’s quite obvious… if you look at your marketing as a process (and it is), does everything fit together, or will it breakdown at some point and you’ll lose the customer you were so carefully handling?

Technology and the internet has enabled any small business to develop and handle clients on line. Whether it be through social media, email marketing, online advertising or websites, a business can handle the communication process efficiently and effectively without ever actually speaking to the potential client until the right time.

The reason however that many small businesses fail at this is down to things… they don’t treat it as a process (and thus handle every client differently, which takes loads of time and money), and if/when they do deal with it as a process, it doesn’t link up effectively… much like MouseTrap!

Consider a typical online lead generation activity.  You spend money on a google advert which drives traffic to your website… but what happens when they get to the website?

The “what happens next?” question is the key to your entire marketing process.  If you don’t know what happens next, then neither does your potential customer and you lose them! Just like all the parts of the MouseTrap game had to link together, so does your marketing.

An example of a “good” process may be something like:

  1. Prospect arrives at your webpage from an online advert.
  2. Prospect can complete a form to register and receive more information
  3. Prospect is signed up to a mailing list and receives the information they requested
  4. Prospect receives further emails adding value and educating them on the best solution for their needs.
  5. Prospect received a special offer via email which encourages them to buy
  6. Prospect buys

Now this is a very basic process, but the idea is sound.  At each point of the process there is something that happens next – all driving them to the end goal of making a purchase. Just like a MouseTrap game that actually works!

What Happens Next?

So when you are developing your marketing process, bare in mind that it all needs to be linked together.  If you’ve a process that isn’t linked effectively, you’ll end up with a gap where potential customers can fall through… lost forever. Keep asking “What Happens Next?” and make sure you’ve got an answer.

The joy that I got when I finally managed to get MouseTrap all connected up could be equal to the joy you experience when you get a new customer because your marketing process was effectively joined up!

….

p.s. It seems that even now, with more advanced production techniques, that they still can’t get the game to work effectively – check this amazon review out!

p.p.s. If like me you’re into these 3D plastic games (look out for more blog posts on this soon!), then you really should check out this website of a defunct American Toy Manufacturer.  I discovered it about 15 years ago… and these toys make me smile!