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Web marketing is not a video game

Over the years, pundits have talked about how the generations coming up that have been raised on video games have a different take on digital marketing than us oldsters. Younger folks understand viscerally the difference with experiential marketing and old-fashioned brand marketing—video game experience surely plays a role in this. I’m certain that But my ten-year-old son had an insight today that I hadn’t considered.

“Dad,” he piped up, “Have you ever noticed that with video games, they always make it possible to win, but that real life doesn’t work that way?”
Well, I knew the real-life part, but I hadn’t thought about the video game part. And it has explained some behavior that I have seen a few times with folks just too stubborn to let go of their ideas.
I’ve watched marketers work on campaigns that weren’t working, but they wouldn’t let go of them. They kept tinkering, kept working, kept tweaking and fussing, but they wouldn’t just kill it. They wouldn’t throw it away in favor of another idea. It was as if they were sure there was some way to make this work—they just needed to find it.
But my son’s right. Sometimes the idea is just not workable. Sometimes we need to give it up, admit it was dumb, and move on to something else. And that’s hard. As resistant as some of us have been to the idea of experimental marketing, most of us know we need to do it. But experimentation includes failed experiments that just will never work out.
Can we put bad ideas out of their misery quickly? Sure, it makes sense to try several variations to see if the idea is OK but the implementation was wrong. But eventually, we need to move on when something isn’t working.
That stubbornness that serves us well in video games might be misplaced in Web marketing. Because in real life, sometimes you can’t win the game and you need to play something else.

Mike Moran

Mike Moran is a Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also served as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He was a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and is now a Senior Fellow of The Conference Board. A Certified Speaking Professional, Mike regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide

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