I’ve been reading the book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
In writing the first draft of my copywriting model acquisition instructions, I realized a way that Flow applies to marketing. First, an example:
In Toastmasters, we just launched our fiscal year. One of my positions allows me to create and promote incentives and competitions for members to be recognized. During the discussions that proceeded the adoption of one in particular, there was a lot of back and forth over the rules.
The point I was trying to make was that we had to make it fair or people wouldn’t do it. One competition in particular, Toastmaster of the Year, was tricky because we were trying to decide how we would choose the winner. The first idea was that all the criteria would count equally and receive a single point talley. I knew that wouldn’t work because one criteria is attending a weekly meeting while another one is mentoring a new club (a six month committment).
We ended up deciding to keep the judging subjective. Several experienced Toastmasters will have to subjectively weight all the criteria against each other and pick a relative winner.
Flow experiences are the intersection of skills and challenges. If your skills are high and the challenge is low, you’re bored. If your skills are low and the challenge is high, you’re anxious. Flow is the happy medium between the two extremes where high skill and high challenge intersect.
For a challenge to be legitimate, the rules must be established and easy enough for people to navigate. If you think about any sporting event, that’s what allows it to be recognized as a challenge. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of guys fighting over a ball without a point. And if you don’t know the rules, that’s probably what it looks like to you.
The reason I mentioned the Toastmaster example is that the rules have to not only be clear but they have to be fair. No one is going to play a game where their reasonable efforts won’t be fairly recognized. It’s impossible to get into a flow state that way because the challenge isn’t well defined.
The marketing application is that your message will be most effective when it helps create a flow experience for your prospect. Your ideal customer will be one who is at the skill level to recognize the solution to a challenge your product offers. Said another way… people buy when your product helps them overcome a challenge. And the particular challenge will be determined by their current skills.
No doubt there are all sorts of other applications to things like customer service as well.
When I just checked Amazon, they have used copies of Flow for $2.60.