The Powerful Motivation of Almost Winning

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While on vacation, I watched two kids play a claw game at the local Walmart. If you’re unfamiliar, claw games are games of chance in which users attempt to pick up prizes with an unstable mechanical claw:

Grabber machines // Jeu des pinces

Watching the kids play and listening to them talk revealed an interesting motivation: almost winning was more compelling than actually winning something.

Think about how this motivation shows up in other games.

  • In Pokemon Go, we expend more Pokeballs trying to catch a difficult creature, but that raises our motivation to catch it.
  • In casino slot machines, getting 2 out of 3 winning bars encourages us to keep putting coins in the machine.
  • How much more compelling is a football play when your favorite team is at 4th and goal versus 4th and 20? How much more closely do you watch?

Almost winning taps into our competitive spirit. It taps into ego and a potent stew of emotions, from hope to anxiety. We feel these emotions even when we’re not directly playing, when we’re watching others play.

Consider how you might use this motivation for your marketing operations. If you manage a team of people, instead of setting either ludicrously unachievable goals or goals with a bar so low that you stumble over it, what if you set marketing goals that were just barely out of reach?

Consider how you might use this motivation for your marketing itself. Suppose you had a sales goal or a fundraising goal, and you invited your community to participate and be a part of it. Could you make your marketing efforts more compelling to watch, like the football game, if you’re almost winning rather than a hopeless cause or an effortless winner?

Almost winning could be a powerful ingredient for you to actually win at marketing.

Photo credit: DocChewbacca

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Solicited Review: Mohu Curve 50 Indoor HDTV Antenna

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During Prime Day, I saw a deal I couldn’t pass up: the Samsung 55" 4K curved TV. I love 4K TVs as second monitors for my laptop. The amount of real estate and high DPI means you can have a dozen windows open at the same time and not feel cramped.

I don’t watch much TV other than CW’s The Flash, but it’s nice to have a live feed for things like the Super Bowl, major news events, etc., especially since cable and telecom providers make us jump through absurd hoops to watch anything online. So when the Mohu team offered me a chance to demo the Mohu Curve, I dived in.

Features: What’s in the Box?

At its core, the Mohu Curve is nothing more than a digital TV antenna. However, unlike most of its competitors, Mohu attempted to make it look reasonably nice. The Curve is about a foot long and 8 inches high, and looks like… well, a curved piece of plastic. This is an improvement over most HDTV antennae that look like plastic sheeting stapled to a cable.


The Curve plugs into the nearly ubiquitous USB power supply found on most modern TVs; it’ll also work plugged into any other powered USB source.

Once you unpack it and place the antenna where you want it, you plug the Curve into your TV through its coaxial jack and tell your TV to tune to it. After 5-10 minutes of scanning through all the channels available, your TV will be ready to use it.


The Curve is dead simple to use. Plug it in, follow your TV’s instructions, and you’re up and running with live feeds. There’s no additional software to configure besides whatever your TV is built with.


The Curve also has better reception than many of its competitors; you don’t need to monkey around with positioning. Just place it near any window or wall that isn’t a Faraday cage.

If you’re unfamiliar, a Faraday cage is any metal enclosure which blocks electromagnetic frequencies. Some houses have substantial amounts of metal in the walls; putting any antenna next to a metal wall will give you poor reception. Rule of thumb: if a room or place in your house has terrible Wi-Fi and mobile phone reception, it’s probably not going to have great over-the-air TV reception either.

Drawbacks & Limitations

The Curve has a few limitations; first, I don’t understand why it only comes with a coaxial output. If it had an HDMI output, I could plug it directly into my laptop as well as a TV. That’d be nice. Perhaps in a future version!

The Curve’s maximum resolution output is 1080p. This is a limitation of over-the-air TV. No TV station that I know of broadcasts over-the-air at a 4K resolution, so if your TV’s up sampling engine is poor, you’ll have a grainy picture.

For TV stations that broadcast in regular SD (aka 480p), you’ll have a picture that is unwatchable close up on a very large screen.

The Curve is also only as good as the local TV stations and what they broadcast. The Curve’s edition numbers indicate the maximum practical range of that antenna; the Curve 30 is designed for a maximum 30 mile radius from the transmitter. I would strongly recommend that you cut range estimates by 25%. I wouldn’t buy the Curve 30 if I lived 25 miles away from the station; buy the Curve 50 instead.

Use Cases

Mohu talks about cutting the cord, which is certainly one use-case for the Curve and their other products. However, the use-case I find more valuable is for second/alternate TVs. I have regular TV coming into my house from a Verizon FIOS line. I’m unwilling to buy a second converter box and a bunch of wiring just to make my second monitor a TV set. That’s a lot of hassle and extra monthly expense I’m not interested in, especially since I don’t watch much TV.

The Mohu Curve brings live feeds into my second monitor affordably and conveniently. I didn’t need to run any extra cable or pay Verizon a dime more. Combined with the smart functionality of my TV (built in Netflix, etc.), the Mohu Curve can either help you cut the cord or never need more cord.


If you want to cut the cord, or you want more TV without more recurring expenses, and you live in an area with good over-the-air TV reception, consider the Mohu Curve. It’s available on Amazon and a bunch of other places.

Disclosure: Mohu is a client of my employer. The Mohu PR team gifted a Mohu Curve to me as part of a blogger/influencer outreach program. I was given no other compensation, but indirectly benefit financially from their patronage as a client. All product links in this article are Amazon affiliate links.

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Summer Re-Runs: Content Marketing Strategy and Analytics

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Once a year, I head to the backwoods of Maine for a week off-grid. No phone, no Internet, nothing except my family, a cabin, and a lake. It’s a wonderful, glorious experience that helps me to recharge, refocus, and recover from the stresses of modern life.

However, as a marketer, a week with no activity doesn’t help my marketing. All other things being equal, activity yields results in digital marketing; no activity means no results. So, my plan for a week off hearkened back to classic television: summer re-runs. While I was away, software would do the sharing for me of previous content.


The next question I had to tackle: which content should I re-share?

Instead of just picking content at random, I chose a data-driven approach. I scanned all my blog posts from 2016 for the most shared posts of the year, then re-queued those in Buffer for the week. After all, if I’m going to have a week of re-runs, best to re-share the things people liked most the first time around.

Using the social sharing scanner I built for SHIFT Communications, I identified these 25 posts based on their popularity the first time around:


If you’re not one of my clients, feel free to just use the native analytics built into Facebook, Twitter, etc. instead. Or, become a client of mine at SHIFT and you can have access to the fancy tools 🙂


How did the experiment do? Did my re-runs do better than taking a week off entirely?

  • I began with a total of 2,278 shares across 8 social networks.
  • Over the week, that total rose to 2,637.
  • Overall, I netted 359 additional shares.

What was most interesting was where I picked up new shares.


While most articles picked up a handful of new shares, a few broke through the pack and carried the weight for most of the re-sharing, such as:

  • Keeping your marketing skills sharp, 37 new shares
  • The future of social media measurement, 56 new shares
  • How we’ve failed marketing automation, 68 new shares

These top three newly re-shared posts have little in common; this time around, audiences approved of these posts instead.

Other Insights

What else did I learn from this experiment?


Sharing isn’t traffic per se, but it sure helps. I saw a week over week increase of 62% in traffic driven from social networks.

Conversely, because I was posting no net new content, I didn’t please our search overlords. Week over week, I saw a decrease of 3.27% in organic search traffic. I also saw declines in other areas such as referral traffic because I was away, not conducting normal marketing activities.


Should you use the same recipe to populate your social channels when you’re on vacation or otherwise unavailable? I can’t give you an absolute answer, but my results indicate that re-runs are better than nothing. Give them a try using the data-driven methodology of your choice and measure your results. You might be surprised at what gains new life in your content.

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