Alright it's HOT. I know it's summer, but damn! It seems that in all my travels there is no escaping it. From the midwest to the east coast it's been a sauna this July. Here is a quick run-down on what's hot with Creative Ventures.

  • rocksI completed the launch of a major strategic initiative around "simplicity," our ELEGANT SIMPLICITY Platform, for a major client and now begin the process of tracking the impact.
  • I launched a new education platform for a client that will kick off in August with a class that combines our Planning and Thinking programs into a single offering. Very exciting stuff.
  • measuring tapeI continued a project in benchmarking that will launch a very strategic support staff training initiative. More and more companies are looking to move their sales efforts forward by creating a well-trained and rewarded support staff. There are continuing corporate studies that show support staff training is a differentiator when measuring sales success. This is a field worthy of resource allocation.
  • energy ballMy latest program--18 months in development--made its presentation debut in July. DAZZLING BLUE: The Short Journey Between Ordinary and Extraordinary hit the stage twice, and I have three additional bookings already on the calendar. This new idea has already been in play strategically with two clients, but until now has not had an idea introduction presentation. This is an amazing debut, since I haven't even done an official client announcement on the idea.
  • Repeatable Successful Acts is now part of the sales program for two additional clients as we added elements of the 21 RSA's to their training curriculua and made them required steps in their sales processes. This brings the total to 15 major clients actively engaged in the RSA program. September's work will include the first major update to the data that have driven the majority of my sales strategies in the presentation, education and consulting areas.
  • I added two new clients in July in two brand new industries for me - video/computer gaming and the medical supply field. These clients are really great people with a unique and powerful desire to move their thinking and behavior to a new level of performance!

I am always in a state of intense gratitude and honor that all of you engage with the way I think, can see measurable impact in moving toward my ideas, and take the time to read my "stuff" every month.

Stay cool. Football season is just around the corner, and that has to mean fall is just a short distance away, right?


It's just a game, right?

"You have to learn the rules of the game. Then you have to play the game better than anyone else."-Albert Einstein

dart boardAs I announced above, I recently began working with a video/computer game design company, which for me was a brand new field, as I am one of those people who has NEVER played a computer or video game (unless you count "Pong"). I've always wanted to. I've wanted to hunt aliens on exotic planets or connect with hundreds fighting elf wars, but I just never learned. I remember watching my sons play Laura Croft Tomb Raider and trying to get a little instruction from them, only to be quickly cast aside as an obstacle in their search for Cortez's gold.

I would love to say I was in the trenches with the creative design team, but I'm working on internal systems and their desire to simplify their processes; nonetheless, I am now in the middle of a fascinating industry filled with ideas that will continue to expand my framework of how so many industries are connected and how you can benefit from expanding your knowledge.

bar graph with trendlineVideo and computer games are a HUGE industry and their profitability is more than impressive:

  • Between 2005 and 2009 the entertainment software industry grew annually at a 10% rate while the US economy (GDP) grew at less than 2%.
  • In 1990 the computer/video game business was a $10 billion industry. In 2010 it was $50 billion, and the projections show by 2014 it will reach $84 billion.
  • The computer social network game Farmville has 72 million daily players.
  • There are nine computer/video games sold every second.

What are the elements that make these games both immensely popular and staggeringly profitable, and can we learn and apply these principles across various business lines and industries? Here are three ideas you should grab and start applying RIGHT NOW!

  • percentage characterIt Can't Be Too Difficult. The difficulty factors of achieving goals are a constant focus of attention in the gaming industry. Make it too hard and players quit. Make it too easy, and guess what? Players quit. In the daily measurement of more than a billion daily player data points, they have discovered that a difficulty factor of +/- 25% is just about right. So, check your goal structure. Is your sales team saddled with such an unrealistic sales objective that only a very restricted group can even approach it? Find that 25% difficulty factor and watch the participation increase. Don't believe me? That's OK, take those billion measuring points applied to millions of players and let that objectivity drive your thinking!
  • football fieldMeasure Differently. Video gamers always know how well they are doing. Real time measurements give them a "current reality" view of progress while at the same time providing incentive to get to the next level. Domino's Pizza and UPS use menu bars that allow everyone to track the progress of their pepperoni pizza or package of glassware. The NFL uses a four down measurement to keep us interested in a team's progress. They even add a virtual yellow line to show us how far a team has to move the ball to hit its next goal. Think about shifting your measurement metrics to a visual, real time method. At internet shoe giant Zappos, they track sales on a big tote board so everyone can see what kind of sales day it's been for this gigantic virtual shoe store. People are excited by good days and emotionally connected to bad days, wanting desperately to reconnect to that good day feeling. Measurement tools are also great competitive elements. With today's technology it's an easy thing to do. Feedback can be king when delivered right.
  • dollar bill staircaseReward, Reward, Reward. The key to reaching any business goal is ENGAGEMENT. The video/computer gaming folks know this and develop elaborate rewards structures to keep the gamers playing. According to expert Tom Chatfield, they follow a simple (you guessed it) three-part formula: WANTING + LIKING = ENGAGEMENT. This engagement is also very competitive. Keep in mind, these are games with winners and losers. Business can take a page from this book and develop reward programs for movement towards a clear goal. These reward programs can readily be applied to sales contests in which producers engage and see their progress, getting rewarded incrementally instead of at the end of the contest. Companies that develop simple "immediate" reward programs in which a manager is empowered to give out something as simple as movie passes or Starbucks cards when they observe a behavior they are trying to reinforce can see rapid movement towards the goal. The idea is to develop a culturally significant rewards system that has an incremental element that keeps a high level of engagement towards specific and clear goals. IT WORKS.

Competitive gaming has a history that extends back as far as 2600 BC and has been intensely studied since the first rock moved on the first game board.

The idea is one of "FRAMING." Expand your framework of knowledge beyond the edges of your industry to take advantage of other success models that can apply to your company. The bigger your vision, the better chance you have at moving forward in a world of rapid and constant change.

It doesn't matter if you are "in the box" or "outside the box." The only thing that really matters is WHAT YOU DO WITH THE BOX!

Detoxing From Your Crackberry: The once dominant Blackberry communications device from Research in Motion (RIMM) continues its fall to a distant third place in the telecommunication wars. Once the clear leader, the Blackberry has taken a major hit from the move to smart phones, a field dominated by the Apple iPhone and the Google Android. RIMM recently reduced its workforce by 2,000 and its stock fell another 4%, with shares down over 50% year to date. This is all about paying attention to what's going on around you. Keep your eyes open and expand your frame! Blackberry phone

Honesty Tea Honesty is Still the Best Policy: Jeremy Ryan at the Wells Fargo Daily Advantage reported on an unscientific but interesting study by beverage manufacturer Honesty Tea. They set up iced tea carts in 12 major cities on a purely honor system. $1 a bottle. They monitored the carts and declared which cities were the winners. Chicago came in at 99%, with Dallas (yea), Seattle and Boston tied at 97%. A little farther down the list was New York at 88% and Los Angeles at 86%. It's interesting that we remain largely ethical in times of adversity.

Social Media at its Best: Whole Foods is really a social media early adopter and is seeing the success of its very focused strategy. 85% of all its tweets are responses to customer comments. Only 5% are promotional. Their idea has always been about intimate, consistent customer connections through interaction. They know people who know more about food are more likely to be a Whole Foods customer, so their customer interactions are often about answering food and wine questions, providing both knowledge and interaction. Once they know your interests they can target specials around your interactions. Whole Foods has made themselves approachable by their customers and this ONE idea has made their social media strategy a grand slam success! Whole Foods Facebook screenshot

Interested in these ideas?


You can contact Steve at steve@creativeventures.com or give him a call at 972-490-7717.
See more at creativeventures.com and stephenharvill.com

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