Socks can make ‘wow moments’

Are you inundated with new autumn season catalogues in the post from clothes companies you’ve never even heard of? Or is it just me?

There is nothing eye-catching about them, nothing to tell them apart from each other. They are all trying to get my attention with a 10% off offer before a certain date. They all look the same. It also feels like they arrive faster than I can file them away in the recycling bin.

Then last week I received a catalogue from a company that make clothes from bamboo. They sent me some free socks. I looked for the catch. There wasn’t one. The director and founder just wanted to share the company’s story and send me some socks to show me the quality of his product that he was really proud of.

I thought it was a bit random – a bit of a gimmick. But then I checked out the socks. They’re really nice! Blue and purple stripes. Super soft and warm. I’m wearing them now!

The Bamboo clothing company’s catalogue is on my coffee table for consideration at the weekend when I have some time to look properly.

Why am I telling you about my socks?

How often do you receive something in the post that makes you smile, that is a lovely surprise? It doesn’t happen very often from people I know let alone from a company that I didn’t even know existed.

This company has chosen to be different. It’s taken a risk by investing to stand out in a crowded marketplace and wow its potential customers. Of course I don’t know how much it costs to send potential customers socks, how they selected their best prospects or the thinking behind it. Although according to Cialdini and Martins Secrets from the Science of Persuasion, the free socks fit into their universal persuasion principle of reciprocity – an obligation to give back when someone has given to you.

The charity sector is crowded with competition? Are your supporters and potential supporters bored and uninspired? Are they giving despite what you are sending them or because of it? Or are you wowing and delighting them at every opportunity?

I’m a customer in a lot of crowded marketplaces, from clothing to charities to utilities and most things in-between. I’m overwhelmed with similar products and marketing because rather than striving to be different, charities and companies copy each other.

I’ve worked with 100’s of individuals and organisations, helping them to think differently to get better results. The biggest barriers are lack time to think properly, then the confidence to give something different a try. Many organisations want to be different but also want to know that their different tactic will work. They’re anxious about failing and individual and organisational confidence dips and they revert to what they’ve always done. Somehow it feels safer to stick with the crowd than to be different and forge your own path.

Stop to think about what your supporters and your beneficiaries would want. I know I’m just a focus group of one but I’d swap bland monotony filling up my recycling bin for something different, something that makes me think (and keeps my feet warm!), like a great product and an insight into the founder’s mission every time. I’d take a punt that your supporters would too.

What wow moments might you achieve for your supporters if you had the confidence to really give it a try?

If you’d like to build your confidence, then check out the Lucidity Network.  A combination of online tools and advice and connection to a dynamic network that can help you build your confidence and get better results.

The Lucidity Network is open for new members a few times a year. Sign up to the waiting list to be the first to know when the Network is open for new members. In the meantime you can join the Lucidity Community free Facebook group  for clearer thinking and better results.  




Everything I didn’t know about video games

When you think about video games – what springs to mind?

When I think of video games, I go back to my childhood. It started with Nintendo Game and Watch hand-held games like ‘Snoopy Tennis’, or my favourite that was called ‘Fire’ and involved catching people jumping from a burning building on a stretcher and bouncing them into an ambulance.

I think if I had failed my A Levels it would have been the combined faults of Sonic the Hedgehog and Zelda Princess Warrior.

So my experience of video games is limited which is why I decided that I should pay a visit to the Video Games exhibition at the V&A in London.

I arrived with a whole load of assumptions about video games. ‘Video games are for kids’  ‘Video games are for boys’  ‘Video games are violent’  ‘Video games are for bored adults with limited social lives’  ‘Video games are for people with limited social skills’

I was wrong. And I’m not alone there was a whole section called ‘Disrupters’ that called out these stereotypes and assumptions.

Here’s what I learned.

  • Video games are at the intersection of art and technology. They are a creative and immersive art form, from their appearance on the screen to the music evoking emotions to the carefully designed interactions of the characters.
  • The design tools and accessibility of technology has made it much easier to make games. There is an exciting emerging group of creators writers, designers and artists experimenting and breaking boundaries of what it means to make a video game.
  • Video games can take the players on an emotional journey. For example in the game ‘Journey’ you’re surrounded by mesmerizing visuals as you take on the role of a robed traveller voyaging across an immense desert towards a distant mountain. Communication is through sounds (not speech) and movements. Players explore, help each other and share the emotional experience. It was relaxing – almost meditative to watch.
  • Video games are stories. I saw how some were designed with the character arc of the hero’s journey. The storyboard in addition to the visuals, reflected the players emotional states which in the final games were represented by colour tones showing emotional progress at each level.
  • Players and designers are tackling complex issues with sensitivity and opening up nuanced conversations about topics that people don’t like to talk about. For example eating disorders, homophobia, violence and abuse.

In the charity sector we’ve dabbled with gaming, for example kidney apps to help patient’s take control, Zynga linking their Farmville players to making charitable gifts in the offline world and Armistice themed games raising money for War Child.

With advancements in technology it’s becoming simpler and cheaper to prototype and test games. What was out the grasp for all but the big charities is becoming more accessible for all charities from service delivery to public education to raising awareness and raising money. I think there is a lot of opportunity for the charities prepared to venture into new ways of engaging with the public, supporters, donors, volunteers, service users and employees.

I left the exhibition feeling exhilarated that I’d taken a couple of hours out of a busy schedule to think and learn. And I was also delighted that one of my clients came too – and also left with a notebook of ideas to apply to their fundraising.

It’s really hard to make time to learn, to think and to be creative, but time to think is your fuel for your productivity and your creativity. Because how we’ve always done things won’t continue to deliver results.

That’s one of the reasons I set up the Lucidity Network – designed to help you take the lead in getting the results you want. It’s a pick and mix of online and offline practical tools and advice as well as access to a dynamic network of expertise.

The Lucidity Network is open for new members a few times a year. Sign up to the waiting list to be the first to know when the Network is open for new members. In the meantime you can join the Lucidity Community free Facebook group  for clearer thinking and better results.  

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