Recreate Marketing by Playing

Recreate Marketing by Playing

Recreate marketing by playing.

Musicians play music. Athletes play sports. But marketers work.

I wonder why. What if marketers reinvented marketing by playing, as musicians and athletes do?

Great marketing sparks engaging, intriguing conversations.

To me, great conversations feel more like play than work. How I love a lively conversation with a workshop full of smart clients!

Marketers, are you secretly having fun?

What if we gave ourselves permission to bring more play into marketing, instead of focusing on the drudgery? You might:

  • Find your job less of a grind, and more of a joy.
  • Become more playful by turning tasks into games.
  • Open up to others to discover new points of view and consider new ideas.
  • Head off burnout.
Recreate Marketing by Playing
Relieve stress by playing games at work.

Are marketers allowed to ‘play’ marketing?

In my marketing and communications jobs at Fortune 500 companies, my cubicles and offices came with empty bookshelves.

What made my bookshelves different was that they were stocked with toys, not books: Magic wands. Wind-up toys. Snow globes. Kaleidoscopes. And more.

toya: wind-up robot, motorcycle, Nunzilla and a snow globe
Do your toys tempt you to have fun at work?

I never thought of displaying toys in my office as a risky practice – until one day when Ameritech’s brand-new CEO, Dick Notebaert, made a surprise appearance at my door.

Dick was walking around company headquarters, introducing himself to staff by showing up unexpectedly. He stepped in, glanced around my office, chose an electronic ray gun from my bookshelf, and started shooting it – laughing as he played.

Permission to have fun at work.

Without a word, Dick granted me permission to have fun at work.

It was my first encounter with him. A year later, I was lucky enough to become his communications coach – accompanying him on every speech, news media interview, earnings release, and acquisition announcement for years to come.

Dick turned out to be my best boss, out of the 52 bosses I worked for during my decades in corporate jobs. We worked together at two companies, Ameritech and Tellabs.

Relieve stress by playing games at work.
Designate a day to make music at work. At Tellabs, every Friday was Guitar Friday.

All this makes me wonder: How can we bring a better sense of play into our workdays? Wouldn’t our clients benefit from more inventive marketing, since it’s simply more fun?

For example, check out this video of an incredible 3-D pop-up book from Sappi, a paper company. I smile every time I see it.

Marketers’ secret: marketing is play

In my content marketing workshops, marketers love playing with a toy (call it a tool if you must) that measures the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) of headlines. It’s a great approach to optimize your existing content marketing.

Here’s how to play the EMV game. It prompts you to generate increasingly emotional headlines for your content:

  • Go to the Advanced Marketing Institute website’s free “Headline Analyzer.”
  • Compose a headline of 4 to 20 words in length.
  • Analyze its EMV, on a scale from 0 to 100.
  • Check out which kinds of emotional appeals you’re creating – spiritual, empathetic, intellectual, or a combination of the above.
  • Write more headlines until you’re satisfied with the score and the type of appeal.

For writers like me, EMV is a fun – and challenging – game to play.

Yes, it’s incredibly hard to write a 100-point headline, just as it’s hard to bowl a perfect 300-game. But it is possible. Whether or not we hit 100, writers have fun climbing up the scale. And readers get a hookier headline.

It feels like a game, but it’s one with a practical purpose. Headlines with high EMV scores are more likely to be shared, a study of 1 million headlines showed.

Bar chart: headlines with an EMV of 39 are shared 10 times more than headlines with an EMV of 19.
The more emotional your headline, the more it gets shared.

Here’s proof that high-EMV headlines move people to action. Out of 1 million headlines, those that scored an EMV of 18 were shared 100 times. Headlines with an EMV of 39 were shared 1000 times – 10 times more.

I hope you’ll have fun playing with the EMV toy.

What’s your favorite toy?

What toy do you use to improve your marketing? I’d love to hear from you about your favorite toy(s) at