Videogame cutscene movies and your marketing storytelling

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If you’ve played any modern, non-casual games recently, from Halo to Warcraft to Mortal Kombat, you’ve likely seen cutscenes, short videos that help advance the story.

Here’s an example of a cutscene from the end of Act I in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor:

These cutscenes provide bridges in the story, taking you from one burst of action to the next. However, some games lend themselves to an entirely new level of cutscenes; there are enough of them and the story is strong enough that, sewn together, you end up with an actual movie. Here’s an example, an hour long, from Halo 4:

The average game company puts minimal effort towards cutscenes, if it invokes them at all. The excellent game company, recognizing the power of storytelling, uses cutscenes so well that they are a story unto themselves. These cutscenes are so compelling that we enjoy watching them for their own sake.

Consider how you approach your marketing. You have campaigns, the big things you do: end of year sale! Quarterly closing deals! Holiday special! These are the big moments, the big events which you rightfully invest a lot of effort. In video game parlance, these would be the action sequences where you as the player would be fully committed, fully participating.

The question is, what’s in your marketing ‘cutscenes’? What are the storytelling pieces you create when you’re not executing major campaigns?

These might be:

  • Your daily social media updates
  • Your daily blog post
  • Your weekly email newsletters
  • Your ongoing digital ads
  • Your earned media hits
  • … in short, the little bits of storytelling glue that are woven between your campaigns.

    Here’s an exercise to try. Take your last 10 social media updates and your last 4 newsletters. Print them out. With a pair of scissors, cut out and remove anything promotional and campaign-related.

    What’s left? If all that’s left is the logo and footer, then you have no cutscene content, no glue, no story between the story.

    The next test: how much of your cutscene content is good enough to stand alone? If you sent out your social media updates, your newsletter, your blog posts, do they get shared and commented on? Do people care enough to save your newsletters to read again later? If the answer is no, your marketing cutscene content needs improvement.

    Your marketing ‘cutscene’ content should be robust enough that if you never executed a major campaign, you’d still tell a coherent, compelling story.

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3 Key Tactics for Local SEO Success

Whether you have a retail presence or not, local search engine optimization is good for your business. Why? Big brands with big budgets have won the Internet, by and large. Certainly, there are a fair number of unicorns (startups with billion dollar valuations) but compared to the vast number of total companies, most startups competing for search engine placement against large brands don’t do well at the global level.

This scale advantage can be partially mitigated by becoming excellent at local search; Google has made numerous statements that local search, particularly on mobile devices, can give some advantage to smaller businesses that are closer to the querant. Thus, if you’re searching for, say, coffee, a small coffee shop that’s well optimized for local search could reasonably compete with nearby mega-brand franchises.

The same is true of any business that doesn’t serve customers at its location. If you are, say, an email marketing company, having appropriate geographic and local business data will help you win searches in your home city.

In order to effectively compete, at least on Google, for local search, you need to do three activities.

First, set up a My Business account with Google and populate it with the appropriate data. You’ll want to specify your mailing address, phone number, website URL, and any other business data you can provide. This will tell Google where you are located and bind your website URL to your physical location:


Second, tag your geo-data on your website appropriately with microdata. This involves making relatively simple edits to any postal address text on your website that declares the contents are geographic data:


Once you’ve implemented your microdata, you’ll want to verify in a few days that Google has detected it by looking in the Structured Data menu in Webmaster Tools/Search Console:


When you log in, if you don’t see the above entry, your markup data may not be correctly formatted.

Third, ensure your Google Maps listing is correct. If it’s not, use the Suggest an Edit function to fix your listing:


These three tactics must be done together in order to achieve maximum local search impact. Most organizations and competitors do one or two of them, but rarely do companies do all three. Do them well, and you’ll level the playing field a little when someone searches for you on any geo-aware device.

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You probably don’t need a marketing dashboard

I love a good dashboard. The challenge of assembling one, of unifying data sources, of cleaning, transforming, and showcasing your data is fun. (This version of fun is why no one invites me to parties.)


Despite all this, most of the dashboards I have seen in my career are useless. In fact, they are worse than useless because the dashboard is an excuse, a substitute for the hard work we actually need to do.

Why? Decision makers don’t need data. They don’t need charts. They don’t need scatter plots with regression lines.

They need actionable answers to their questions.

What should we do?

What is the next step?

What is your recommendation?

What’s the plan?

When you hear these questions after you showcase your data, your dashboard, your analysis, it means you’ve fallen flat. It means that your work, hard though it was, ultimately didn’t achieve the goals that your decision makers wanted it to achieve.

Every analysis you do, every presentation you make must implicitly answer those questions above. Most of the time, a dashboard can’t actually do that. At best it’s a visual aid to your explanation. At worst it’s a distraction.

Before you launch a dashboard project or buy a dashboard tool, ask whether you need it to see that data for yourself or if it’s for your decision makers. If the latter, you probably don’t need a dashboard at all.

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