We aren’t in an information age, we are in an entertainment age. – Tony Robbins
In the book Just for fun: The story of an accidental revolutionary about Linus Torvalds, the inventor of Linux, talks about his three rules or basic categories of motivation.
He says people do things to survive, for their social lives and for entertainment.
And, actually, the things they do tend to follow that order.
For example, we once needed fire to cook food and stay warm – it helped with survival.
In many societies the number of chimneys you had started to signal status – in fact there were taxation systems built around the number of hearths you had in your house.
And now we have fireworks, firepits and arson – forms of entertainment for different folk.
It’s a loose categorisation – a sort of derivative of Maslow’s hierarchy – but is it simply an interesting point of view from someone who has a giant profile in a particular field or is it actually something useful?
You might find it surprisingly useful if you use it as an aid to thinking about the way you market what you have to sell.
Few of us can really claim that what we do is essential for survival.
If you live in a relatively modern economy everything you need to survive is found in a shop somewhere – or on Ebay or Amazon.
It’s unlikely that what you do is necessary for people’s social life either – unless you’re in the business of making BMWs or a dating app.
The majority of us probably don’t work in businesses that really address points 1 or 2 in the picture above.
That must mean that what we’re selling is entertainment.
How can that be? If you sell training courses on video creation, for example, how is that entertainment?
Is it not something to do with social life – something that means the person learning has status or an income from their content?
Linus seems to have quite a loose definition of entertainment – it’s not just limited to lounging on a sofa watching telly.
Instead, he counts doing work as entertainment.
Especially if you work on a computer.
The fact is that if you are affluent enough to own a computer or work on one at work you probably are ok on the survival side of things.
And really, whatever you work at needs to do more for you than suck the life out of you.
There’s a Dilbert cartoon that sums up that kind of life perfectly.
Dilbert goes to his manager to have a chat about his career.
His manager says, “My plan is to work you until your health deteriorates and your skills are obsolete. Then I’ll downsize you.”
Dilbert is ill at the thought – his manager has never had a plan work so quick before.
So, really, if you’re at work you need to enjoy what you do – you need to be entertained by what you do.
Maybe not laugh out loud entertained – but entertained in a this is good fun and I’m doing something useful with my day sort of way.
And if that’s good for you that’s good for your customer.
Which means that your marketing might need to focus on how you entertain your customer.
How do you make their day better, and how do you make it easier and more pleasurable for them to get their work done?
How does the thing you offer help them to do their job better and get the satisfaction that comes from being competent at their job?
Many of us don’t think this way – we think about savings and return on investment as being key drivers.
The key driver, however, is perhaps how you help someone be entertained.
Because that’s what they’ll probably put some money down for.