Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

I sat next to a young gentleman who was on his way home from E3. For those of you not in the gaming industry, E3 is an annual trade show for the computer and video games industry presented by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). It is used by many video game developers to show off their upcoming games and game-related hardware. I’m what they call “old school,” so my idea of a video game is Tetris, Super Mario Brothers and Ms. Pac-Man, and I only had a passing interest in those during a few lonely years in my 20’s. The video games of today exist in a whole new world, literally. Game developers have created virtual worlds in which real people are transformed into imaginary heroes and villains with super human strength and special powers. I am more of a word nerd than a gamer geek, so video games aren’t really my style; but I do like to keep abreast of what’s “new,” so I enjoyed chatting with the sharp young developer with whom I shared the coveted exit row. He was more than happy to educate me about the ins and outs of an industry that changes more often than my wife’s mind. He explained in great detail how games are developed, which game Publisher is top dog (EA), and of course who their market is. He was a developer, not a marketing guy, so I was surprised at his acumen. He was certainly dialed in to branding, as it’s a big part of the gaming game.

Our conversation started me thinking about how marketing is relevant in every industry—every business uses it and is subject to its rules. Every single company in every type of industry from clothing manufacturing to packaged foods to video games must develop a brand and market their product or service. There are no exceptions—at least none that I am aware of. So, even though I get killed off in the first moments of Halo 3 and the kid next to me probably hasn’t read a book about something other than programming in the better part of a decade, we have more in common than not. I just love how marketing brings the world together. So the lesson for today is, “Everyone is a teacher and every product or service has a market.”

In honor of gamers and geeks everywhere, today’s featured item is Magnetic Backgammon packaged in a CD-style jewel case with all playing pieces. Sure, it’s primitive by today’s game standards, but it’s fun and challenging nonetheless. Let your clients enjoy a little light distraction on you. They’ll remember you when it counts—even if they aren’t hardcore gamers.

I’m off to play Guitar Hero with my son. Remember, “Life is the one game you can’t afford to lose.”