What can marketers in 2020 learn from the low-resolution stand-up video arcade games of the 1980s?
Here are five surprisingly-modern marketing lessons that we can learn from and implement today, with roots that come directly from vintage ‘80s arcade games.
Slap that fire button and let’s warp ahead and take a nostalgic look back at a simpler time in both video gaming and marketing, and then hyperspace ahead to today’s vastly different landscape.
1 — Defender: Fire & Forget for a Constant Content Cadence
Williams Defender Arcade Game
Photo by Author
Williams Electronics’ Defender is my all-time favorite stand-up video arcade game, an insidiously difficult side-scrolling spaceship-protecting-the-world shooting match juggernaut from 1981 programmed by early video game legend Eugene Jarvis.
I played Defender so much that I eventually won a local video game competition, and can still almost feel where I had callouses on my hands from hour upon hour of game-play long ago.
Defender teaches marketers the importance of keeping up a steady cadence of publishing content. In the case of Defender, the entire universe depended on firing off never-ending shots to protect humanoid figures from a variety of swiftly-moving alien invaders, while for marketers our success depends on keeping our content marketing fire buttons active to stave off audience abandonment and ghosting.
Smart content marketing features a steady publication of relevant information and best-answer content, which may not save the universe, but when done right can hold your audience’s attention and gain new customers, fans and followers through engaging content.
2 — Robotron: Find Marketing Order in a Sea of Content Chaos
Officially Robotron: 2084, this 1982 Williams 2D multi-directional shooting game also primarily developed by Eugene Jarvis is my second-favorite video game, another intensely challenging dive into a strange alien world populated by a colorful array of 8-bit digital baddies.
Robotron teaches marketers the importance of perseverance in what can at first seem like a stormy sea of digital content chaos.
Robotron’s game-play involves protecting the last humans in the universe as an intimidating collection of serious alien killing machines try to do away with the humans and — especially — you.
Marketers similarly can easily feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of social media platforms, digital asset creation apps, and the vast amount of data surrounding the content being published.
Making sense of it all takes time and a concerted effort to learn what can at first seem to be an alien landscape, which can be done when you:
Find out what your audience wants and the questions they’re asking
Learn new tactics through online events and from podcasts
Keep up with marketing industry changes
3 — Donkey Kong: Take Your Marketing to “Triple Elevators” Success
An entirely different flavor of ‘80s arcade game is Nintendo’s 1981 hit Donkey Kong, a deceptively simple multi-level platform game with such staying power in our culture that it is still making news in 2020, as the game’s previous world record high-score holder Billy Mitchell — who featured prominently in the cult indie hit King of Kong documentary — has filed a defamation lawsuit.
In Donkey Kong, an angry gorilla hurls barrels of death and other colorful impediments in the path of your player Mario — a character who debuted here, originally called Mr. Video and later Jumpman. Screen after screen bring newfound challenges in the game, culminating with a stage featuring intricately-timed elevators and then a diabolical conveyor belt challenge.
Donkey Kong teaches marketers that successfully avoiding obstacles can take a brand from the humblest beginning to the loftiest heights, especially when it comes to social media marketing.
Unlike Defender and Robotron, which each have many random and free-form movement elements and options, Donkey Kong instead can teach marketers the value of learning a particular industry’s unique facts to drive success in a known social media environment.
Educate your marketing Mario by dedicating the time to learn the details of each social media platform your brand is using or plans to have a presence on. We’ve written a number of recent articles exploring the latest social media firm marketing features and platform maneuvers, including these:
Should B2B Marketers Embrace Ephemeral Content?
6 Unconventional Social Channels for B2B Marketing
Active Social Media Listening: Tips for a New Era of COVID-19
32 Top Social Media Marketing Influencers To Follow
13 Top B2B Social Media Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020
“Successfully avoiding obstacles can take a brand from the humblest beginning to the loftiest heights.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellisCLICK TO TWEET
4 — Crystal Castles: Gather Gems & Avoid Tone-Deaf Marketing
Atari’s 1983 arcade game Crystal Castles is another favorite filled with its own marketing lessons even all these years