Marketers, like most professionals, find their work a mental challenge – not unlike playing chess or other games of strategy and tactics. A favorite mental game that marketers play is called "How would I do it?" Want to play?
The rules are simple. Just observe how others are marketing and ask yourself, "How would I do it better?" Okay, ready to play?
On your way home from work this evening, I'll bet that you need to stop at the grocery, the drug store, or the cleaners. As you approach, start playing the Marketing Game by judging the store's appearance and the images you see. Observe as you zoom through the aisles; is the entrance inviting, clean, and well organized? Are you welcomed or ignored by staff? Is the signage clear? How's the housekeeping? Ask yourself how your customer experience could be improved.
Open your mail; look at the catalogs and brochures. Judge what catches your eye and what specifically captures your attention – graphics, message, or offer? Consider what would help make both your eye and your thought process linger, leaving you to ponder and perhaps make a purchase.
At lunch, read the menu critically – how do they attempt to entice you with mouth-watering extras like appetizers and that crave-able piece of "Mom's Famous Apple Pie" with a scoop of ice cream?
Look at the ads in the newspaper, those that pop up in your cell phone, and the ones you see on TV. Read the messages and look at the graphics. Each time, attempt to understand their strategy, check if their message is communicated effectively, and ask yourself, "How would I do it better?"
Play the game every chance you get. Think through the marketing challenges for each. How would you improve the strategy? What do you think the message should be? How could you improve the word usage, graphics, attitude, or media usage?
Of course, it's very easy to play the Marketing Game at a business you are not involved in because you do not need to deal with the constants of time, money, and projects competing for your attention and effort. You are just being the critic.
As you continue to play the game, transfer the thought process to your business. Think about your overall strategy and ask the same questions about message, media, attitude, words, graphics, etc. The longer you play the game, the more you think like a marketer. Over time, you will become better at it. Better marketers win!