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The Fun Theory

If you google "what does fun mean," you will get an answer that sounds like a quote from Cookie Monster:

F is for friends doing stuff together U is for you and me N is for never ends

But when you think about marketing, fun is something that engages people in an unexpected way that they like. It makes people smile or laugh and look at the person next to them. It delights them. And if you do it right, they will tell their friends, who tell their friends, and you get a lot of people talking.

This is beyond being or doing something different and unique. It is about engaging people in a way that they welcome and surprising them with your cleverness. It is about taking interests to another level or making something commonplace interesting again.

For example, how do you get people to stop riding the escalator and choosing to take the stairs instead? Watch this video to find out:

This video is part of The Fun Theory, an initiative by Volkswagen, based around "the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better." Take several minutes and look at their other videos too.

Think about the everyday communications you have with your customers. How can you make your service more engaging and more fun? How can you entertain your target market? Are there elements of fun that would encourage your current customers to keep coming back for more?

These same principles go into the creation of games. If a game is too easy or too predictable, people quit playing. If a game is too hard, people quit playing. But if the game involves their personal interests, creates a feeling of success and a hierarchy of reward, and is entertaining, people will keep playing.

Watch children playing, and you will see the same thing. Children are very focused and engaged when they are entertained. They are thinking, communicating, and using their imagination at the same time.

Think about how the element of fun can help other aspects of your business and your personal life. Managing people is difficult, but what if you reward the behavior you are looking for? What if you make it fun to come to work? If you are feeling burned out, how can you make work more fun for yourself?

Thank you to my advisor, Michael, for making me think of The Fun Theory this week.

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