Warlords of Draenor Cinematic and interactive marketing

Before we get to some thoughts, give this a watch:

Admittedly, as a hardcore World of Warcraft nerd, this made me happy. For those who are not fans, I won’t bore you with the interesting plot twists from that universe (or multi-verse, technically).

What I do suggest you think about is this: that cinematic (as with many of Blizzard’s cinema tics over the years) was just as compelling and well-produced as any motion picture studio trailer.

As marketers, we spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on broadcast media, on one-way “conversations”. This is partly because many marketers grew up in a non-interactive environment, and partly because one-way media is easier to manage and much easier to scale.

The landscape has changed, however, and will continue to change under our feet if we don’t adapt. World of Warcraft is a decade-old example of mass interactive media as over 100 million people have played it, including some of the biggest name celebrities in the world.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Games like Ingress are bringing players into the real world, visiting locations around them as our smartphones become our portals to the game world while we navigate the physical world.

Something to think about: if you were going to go all-in on a massive media buy, you might want to look at having a game built for you. As long as you hired the right developers and designers to create a game people actually wanted to play, your media buy might become a franchise of its own.


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How much does brand name matter to SEO and marketing?

These guys will be fighting an uphill branding battle

I was asked recently, “how much does name matter when it comes to setting up a new company? Is it more important to have a distinguishable brand, or more important to be found in generic search?”

This is an excellent and more complex question then you might first think. Being known for something is important; when you’re tackling a space which is very crowded with generics and commodities, having a distinguishable brand matters a great deal. Ideally, the brand is something that is not already in heavy use in the space. Ideally, the brand is also easy to spell and passes the Siri/Google now text where you read out the brand name and domain name to a computer and see if it gets the website address correct. An easy to pronounce, easy to spell brand name is an easy to share brand name.

Naming a company after a generic category would mean that you might capture some portion of generic search about it, but you’re better off creating product pages that are appropriately tagged and structured for a generic search while working to make a distinguishable and distinct brand.

Let’s say you own a coffee shop. You might attempt to create a coffee shop named Boston Coffee Company, on the assumption that people searching for coffee at Boston would find it. However, since Google has given more prominence to existing brands there is a good chance that you would lose what little search ranking you’d get to companies like the Boston Bean Company.

Rather than challenge at a company brand level, you might be better off creating a distinct brand-name for your coffee shop, but have individual coffees that are reflective of the geography and the market you intend to take. You could have, for example, the Jamaica Plain coffee, the Roxbury espresso, is the Newton cappuccino, the Dorchester doppio. This will accomplish your goal of geographically named/obviously named products and services for the purposes of search, while still retaining a sense of individual identity.

A real-life example of this? Look at the brand name of the bread in the photo above. Are you likely to forget it? It’s also easy to find in search, and the domain name is easy to find and share via word of mouth.

Remember also that one of the key drivers of search is inbound links. One of the key drivers of inbound links is public relations work, building word of mouth and endorsement through third parties and media outlets. A clever, fun, easy to pronounce brand name that’s unique will likely be better remembered and linked in stories about you.


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The cognitive importance of storytelling

Last week, I shared Dr. Klaus Oberauer’s research into how working memory operates and how multitasking is more fiction than reality. One of the key findings in Dr. Oberauer’s work is that there are three functional components of working memory: the active center of attention that is being processed by the brain, the active data being stored in working memory, and passive working memory that is associatively linked to long-term memory.

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For example, let’s say we’re at a networking event, a mixer or a reception. We may be paying attention to the person in front of us and listening to what they have to say. We may be keeping the name of the person in active working memory. But how often do you remember that person or the dozen other people you meet that evening? What makes one person more memorable than another?

The answer is in Dr. Oberauer’s work – our ability to store data in passive working memory is based on our ability to associate it with information stored in long term memory. We can form stronger links to things we already have stored in our regular memories; thus, we might remember someone more easily if we share associative memories, such as going to the same college or sharing interests in the same TV shows.

So what does this have to do with storytelling? Cognitively, if we remember best when we can create linkages from active working memory to passive working memory to long-term memory by associations, then it makes logical sense that stories with familiar components are more easily recalled. Thus, if we learn to tell stories that contain good flow, entertainment or emotional content, and plentiful associative material, our stories are more likely to be linked to passive working memory and long-term memory; doing so makes our stories more easily recalled later.

This is one of the many reasons that content marketing using pop culture is so powerful and effective; you’re essentially using existing stories and the pre-formed associations to quickly build more links from active working memory to passive working memory to long-term memory. This is why you remember some people more than others, or you recall certain facts more easily than other facts. You probably can’t remember the name of your elected representatives, but you can still recall the ingredients of a Big Mac (and might even be able to sing it).

Take this knowledge and incorporate it into your own content marketing efforts. Add associative elements wherever and whenever you can do so reasonably, so that you maximize the chance of leveraging as many different parts of working and long-term memory as possible.


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