Thursday, February 6, 2014

Marketing Preparedness...

How do you break through? How do you create messaging that resonates? How do you get people to care, to act, to change their behavior? These questions can be heard in the offices of marketers and advertising...but they can also be applied when considering how to market preparedness.

The challenges in creating awareness and ultimately action around preparedness messaging feels very similar to the challenges advertisers and marketers face when changing perceptions or introducing a brand. Creating value around an idea, or inspiring action can be a daunting task, especially when we're talking about subject matter that makes people uncomfortable. The ability to raise awareness while actually imparting knowledge or changing behavior is the end goal in both marketing and preparedness, so why isn't there more cross pollination done between the two disciplines?

Meet Jenny Gottstein, she is one of those people who is blurring the lines between preparedness, marketing...and dare I say something that sounds like fun?!

At preparedness events there is usually a long line of people coming for free stuff, and during the 15 seconds you have their "attention" you try to impart some wisdom that may help them in the event of a disaster. These types of events are more about moving product to make reporting look good than it is about changing attitudes and perceptions.

Urban scavenger hunts are a big deal thanks to shows like "The Amazing Race;" clues direct you to various point and challenges dictate how quickly you advance and it appears Ms. Gottstein has combined the two, and thrown our love affair with Zombie's in the mix. The result is a disaster preparedness training game under the guise of the Zombie Apocalypse.
She armed players with smart phones and Nerf guns, and had teams of people run around the San Francisco completing challenges like "light a BBQ without matches" or “pack a Go Bag” or "bandage a burn wound" all while being chased by zombies. She tried to incorporate practical skill building but in a way that is more fun than serious. There was a lot of coverage of the event as well, on sites like: SF WeeklyFunCheap SF, and 7x7 and from the looks of it, it was well attended and fun was had.

According to Ms. Gottstein "It was a huge success" and as a result she is working to develop this concept into a nation-wide phenomenon.

I like this concept because it takes everything that I've talked about and we as a community of practice talk about and is actually trying to do something with it. Of course it's easy to be negative about how it doesn't do this, or meet the standards of that...but what it is doing, is getting communities of young people engaged. By leveraging popular culture and tying it to concepts that we struggle to connect to people on, she may have found a way to make people care, which I believe is a huge step in the right direction.
Ms. Gottstein is working to create a version 2.0 and has applied to board Millennial Trains Project, a cross country start up incubator-esque environment on a train that stops in several cities along the way.

She has raised $5,000 and I believe secured her seat which is great news because she plans on meeting with some interesting people to build her ideas to adapt the game and make it better.
The Little Things Lab
Univ. of New Mexico Game Design Students
Code for America
Create Here

I encourage you to check out her page at:

Make a plan, build a kit, get engaged...and get attacked by zombie's adds a new dimension to a marketing message that many have tuned out. In order to communicate with the whole community, we have to revise the way we approach how we engage. I think what Ms. Gottstein is trying to do is different, fun, and allows people to interact with the concepts of preparedness...something I haven't too much of in preparedness programming up to this point.

What do you think? Do you have examples of unique or innovative preparedness programming?

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