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This article was supposed to be about Pinterest. More importantly it was an article that was going to make Cynthia Sanchez of Oh So Pinteresting, Alisa Meredith of Scalable Social Media and Jeff Sieh of Manly Pinterest Tips very happy and excited.
Alas, life took a left turn and you’ll have to wait two weeks to learn what I have to say about Pinterest. I hope you’ll come back for that, but right now I want to talk about social media and video games.
Wait! Hold on. Hang in for just a minute it’ll all make sense.
I want to share the story of a friend of mine that has hired and fired many marketing companies of various disciplines.
SEO company? Hired. Then fired.
Social media marketing company? Hired. Then fired.
Social Search Guru Shaman Rockstar? Hired. Then Fired.
What they all had in common is that none of them got close to the three month mark with my pal. By the second month he was reading the bail out clause of the contract to figure out how quickly he could fire the company. His rationale was simple: they weren’t producing results. In casual conversation I explained to him that programs need time to take root before they can have a noticeable effect, but he was having none of it.
A few days ago, a news story popped up on my feed that was so amazing that I had to share it with him and with you.
If you aren’t familiar with gaming, there is a game series called Halo that reinvented the first person shooter on the Xbox in 2001. The game was a critical and financial success and has spawned a number of sequels and spinoffs.
One spinoff is a game called Halo:Reach, which was released in 2010. The storyline isn’t important, but one level of the game is. It’s called The Long Night of Solace.
This level takes place in a hangar when you as the hero need to defeat various enemies and escape unharmed. The level itself is beautifully designed and rendered. No detail was spared. The hangar where the gameplay takes place has many details, one of which is a room way up near the ceiling where a flying combat aircraft known as a Banshee sits. The room is utterly unreachable due to its height and location, not to mention the energy shield which bars entry.
Of note is that this room is cosmetic only and has no impact on gameplay or the narrative of the story. But that has not stopped legions of gaming fans from trying to get into that room.
Let’s be clear that the room is not a useable surface by the player. But that has not stopped legions of gaming fans from trying to get into that room.
It’s also important to recognize that the shape of the area surrounding the room doesn’t have steps, railing or any other architectural element that would allow a player to attempt to gain access to the room. But that has not stopped legions of gaming fans from trying to get into that room.
As it turns out, the fact that the room is utterly unreachable did not dissuade a small contingent of fans from painstakingly agonizing over every detail of the level until in mid 2015, five years after the release of the game, a group of interstellar spelunkers made their way into the unreachable room.
The article I mentioned before described this as “amazing and ridiculous.” Yep. I agree.
So what’s important about this? Is this a story about perseverance? Is this a story of sheer will?
As it turns out, no.
It’s the story of strategy and tactics. The group responsible for getting into the room didn’t just button mash their way in with brute force. They spent years testing and noting every aspect of the room. An organized group of players broke down the research into chunks and each one was tested, evaluated, retested and either abandoned or evolved. The article that I link to has a video of a successful attempt at accessing the room.
Despite being a huge Halo fan and having played and completed every game several times, I can’t possibly explain or understand how they did it. But one thing is for sure: they created a strategy. Then went tactical. When the tactics failed, they reassessed the strategy and developed new tactics.
This went on for five years.
So what does this have to do with my friend?
The room in the story is just like your marketing. No marketing program can be successful without strategy, tactics and measurement. But more importantly, you have to take the successes and failures as data that can be used to inform a new wave of strategy and tactics.
But there is another lesson here. Good results take time. Surely no business wants to invest in a marketing program that doesn’t work for five years, but I’m standing firm that two months is too short.
Like the heroes in the hangar, marketers need time for strategies to unfold. Without time, the room and your business goals will be forever out of reach.