Two Underserved Roles in Marketing

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. – Albert Einstein

Many companies I work with simply do not understand their customers and to some extent, their core capabilities in the environment or eco-space their companies reside. When you understand your core customers, core capabilities it empowers you to explore your edges, through inspection and adaption. It allows you to be part of a new space through learning and collaboration versus trying to be the expert, the problem solver.

Anthropologists take a broad approach to understand the many different aspects of the human experience. They have the ability to deeply understand core issues, primarily humans interaction with the environment or customers within your space.

From the MIT Course Curriculum Outline.,

Anthropology studies humankind from a comparative perspective that emphasizes the diversity of human behavior and the importance of culture in explaining that diversity.

While the discipline encompasses the biological nature of our species and the material aspects of human adaptation, it takes as fundamental the idea that we respond to nature and natural forces in large part through culture. Anthropology, then, is the study of human beings as cultural animals. Sociocultural anthropology draws its data from the direct study of contemporary peoples living in a wide variety of circumstances, from peasant villagers and tropical forest hunters and gatherers to urban populations in modern societies, as well as from the history and prehistory of those peoples.

If you understood this about your customers and your environment, it would easily define your existing core customers. But more importantly, it would identify the outliers. Customers that don’t quite fit the target. This is where the real work begins, and your growth engine is empowered. It is these outliers that the Anthropologist study can hand off to the Gamer to inspect and adapt.

A good book that ties the past to future thinking is The New Leadership Literacies by Bob Johansen. He actually goes into quite a bit of depth the role gamers will play in future companies. One of his main thoughts is the gamer’s ability to handle voluntary fear. One of those fears is the ability to recognize that early failures can lead to success. Most gamers are very resilient, extremely malleable and recover quickly from stressful situations. This is what Angela Duckworth called Grit, “the tendency to sustain interest in, and effort toward very long-term goals.”

Johansen also goes quite in depth of the formation of guilds which we are all familiar with, but in gaming, they are all about connection. The guild creates the connection for people to play and learn together. A space for exploration, versus selling. What Gamers obviously can provide is an innate way that we connect and experiment with customer together

And let’s not forget one of the most obvious traits of all gamers, immersion. As Johansen says,

Immersive Learning Ability: The ability to immerse yourself in unfamiliar environments, to learn from them in a first-person way.

A common thread between the Anthropologist and the Gamer that is well worth thinking about is conceptual thinking.

Conceptual thinking is the ability to understand a situation or problem by identifying patterns or connections and addressing key underlying issues. Conceptual thinking includes the integration of issues and factors into a conceptual framework. – From

In my experience for example, what separates professional gamers is not the mechanical skill, though they are good, but the understanding and integration of issues and factors into a framework of inspection and adaption. They cannot do that without a very deep understanding of their craft.

The Ying and Yang of this are an Anthropologist proves that understanding of where we are and have been. They do it not through some Kumbaya session of post-it-notes but rather through evidence-based research. Scientific methods to include both qualitative and quantitative methods and verified with triangulation. It is how they learned, how they work.

Standard work is a way of pushing boundaries, edges to new thinking. It is not Ansoff matrix; it is more how can I empower, what platforms will enable, engage and explore the new. The gamer or at least the gamer mentality has no fear of exploring the edges through little experiments. They know how to operate within a guild to gain consensus, practically instantaneously.

The future of your market growth is not about changing mindsets by peeling resistance away. Or searching for answers that resolve the tension between opposing thoughts. Gamers believe that together with their guild, or in business terms customers and markets, they can generate great choices. They do this without changing mindsets but rather exploring edges, changing boundaries.

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