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  • Writer's pictureGlenda Beagle

Marketing is Simply a Game of Survivor

After many years of watching (or at least half watching) seasons of survivor, I have to say that this year is the best yet. Winners at War.

Talk about your social experiment of the generations come to life. Each player has won at least once during the last 20 years, yet the tactics are so different. Some are different from generations while others are different based on the tools that they had. The last time some of these players played, social media wasn’t a thing, well Myspace was a thing (but really who remembers that?). Facebook was still four years from launching when the first show was played.

My inner marketing geek instantly saw a connection with how survivor is played and how business owners market their businesses. Yep, I’m that much of a geek, and proud of it.

The OG team (old school for the real old schoolers) is focussed on calm, deep relationships. The current generation is all about chasing shiny objects. Running around searching for the idols and sharing the ideas with everyone. The generation caught in the middle is doing a bit of everything. The one constant is that every player keeps commenting on how much the game has changed and how hard it is to keep up.

Sound Familiar? Perhaps it sounds like what it feels like to stay on top of marketing your business?

Marketing is a multi-dimensional with so many options. I see it all the time when working with business owners, or simply studying communities across the country. The Old School Businesses that have been around for generations. They’ve had a great location for years, marketing in the traditional ways, newspaper, flyers and radio. Then across the street you will find a brand new business who is all in on the social channels. They are spread across every channel they can find an app for. So is one of them right? Is one of them wrong?

In Survivor Boston Rob is one of the OG’s. He is an incredible player and provides a unique perspective. While he has doubled down on his core principles, he isn’t ‘set in his way’, and therefore getting in his own way. Let me say this before I go any further, I wrote this based on the episodes that have aired prior to March 4, so in the event he’s voted off right away, still take away some of the lessons he’s laid out - and remember he’s playing a game. Boston Rob has taken what he knows, believes and yet is open to evolution. He is aware that there are things such as idols that can epically shift the game in a heartbeat. He also knows that the relationships he’s building, the knowledge he’s gathering and the effort he is putting out is what will ultimately take him closer to winning.

There are other players such as Adam and Ben. These two can’t seem to keep quiet. They are so proud of their ideas and accomplishments that they are sharing it with everyone. They remind me of the businesses (or people) who are constantly oversharing on social media. I won’t say that this is wrong either - because honestly some love to know where you’re coming from. In business people want to know you so that they can decide if they like you and are willing to trust you. If you play your cards too close to the chest, it’s a lot harder for people to get to that relationship building stage. The question you need to ask yourself is - is what I’m sharing going to benefit my business in the long run or am I only playing a game that gets me through the next tribal council? If you aren’t looking steps ahead of each move you make, you just might find your torch snuffed earlier than you expect.

Ethan one of the OG’s from waaaay back. He struggled to keep up with the pace of the game. He struggled so much in fact that he never even saw his time coming to an end. His tribe spoke but he was still in a daze of overwhelm. The game of business just as in survivor is a fast game. It moves at lightning speeds and not all of the struggles or obstacles will come from the outside, but rather from within your own tribe. Having a cohesive message that your entire team gets behind and can put out to your audience will allow your marketing to have an even bigger impact.

Tony learned his lesson in past seasons, he was so busy racing around trying to find the idols, that he forgot about all the other elements of the game. This season he is fighting all of his urges to race around looking for those idols. I’m curious as to how his season will play out. This is a common mistake that many business owners make. They get focussed on just one element and let the others all slip through their fingers. Holding on so tightly to that one piece of the puzzle, not realizing you need all the pieces for the puzzle to be finished. The best lesson in Tony’s story is that everyone can have a second or even third, fourth or … well, you get the idea, chance. We can all change what we are doing, we just need to have enough awareness and willingness to change it up.

One of the biggest epiphanies that came to me after coming up with this topic and sitting on it for a while, is that it isn’t always the best physical player, but rather the player with the best story. Sandra for example, the only two-time

winner - and a true OG, isn’t a physical threat. Sandra is however the best storyteller. She knows exactly what to say, when to say it and how to capture the attention of her audience and direct it right where she wants it to go. Many businesses are trying to have the best sales, sponsor the most events, have the loudest voice, but in reality, in this noisy world, it isn’t about having the loudest voice, it’s about having the best story. When you hear a story you’re bored by, you keep on going, but when you hear a story that captures you heart, you stop and listen. When that story hits to the gut of your problems and offers a solution you hang on every single word they say. No one does this better in the game of survivor than Sandra. Her stories evolve over time as well based on what threats are coming her way.

Is your torch going to be snuffed? Or are you willing to learn a new strategy?

Just like those playing the game of survivor, business owners need to evolve. Shift strategies, be open to new ideas, but they also need to know what the deal breakers are. The strategies in marketing in 2020 are very different than they were in 2000. The way we build relationships is different. With people buying so many things online, the mom and pop shops need to double down on the experience their customers are receiving. Recent studies have shown that there is a desire to return to experiential shopping. You really aren’t going to be able to beat the convenience of online shopping or the hours, but you can certainly out experience the internet.

The tools we use now are different. When the game of Survivor began in 2000 there weren't any hidden immunity idols or advantages there was just the game. In the year 2000, your options for marketing were somewhat limited. Today we are flooded with opportunities to market to our customers, to find ways to connect with them. This doesn’t make it any easier, in fact, some would argue marketing is even harder today than it was. I have to say I agree. In 2000 the average number of messages your customers were flooded with daily was a fraction of what they are experiencing today. Trying to get their attention today takes significantly more effort than ever before, however, I would have to say that when you do get their attention, it has the potential to have even bigger payoffs today than it did before.

I can’t wait to see how the season plays itself out. Every time I watch an episode I can see business owners in place of the players. Some that are strategically evolving and growing their businesses, while others are fighting to be right seeing their torches snuffed far too early. Business isn’t about just making it to the next episode, it’s about Outwitting, Outlasting and Outplaying the competition.

If you are struggling and feeling as drained as a survivor player, there is help available. Reach out to me, I help businesses just like yours to get the foundations of their marketing rock solid so that you can make easier decisions, maximize your return on investment, grow your foot traffic and most importantly grow your sales. Don’t wait for your torch to be snuffed out, find yourself an alliance and get yourself back in the game.

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