Let us face an awkward truth about the Credit Union Christmas Pageant.
If you had to go through the list of floats and mark them as brilliant or boring, I fear that most of us would have a selection destined straight for the latter.
I also have a sneaking suspicion a core group of floats would be on most people’s ‘boring’ lists and it has little to do with the floats themselves.
And that is the point of today’s post: the best floats in the pageant were actually the ones that were flanked by people putting energy and effort into their antics and who weren’t afraid to interact with the crowd.
In marketing, we call that engagement.
In sales, they call that the key to survival.
A parade of insight
As I shivered in the shadows of the Adelaide police station in Wakefield Street on Saturday morning, I had a field day watching people watching the annual pageant.
What struck me the most were the noticeable drops in crowd energy as certain floats went by.
Typically, kids got a bit restless and the aches and chills became more noticeable when the people parading past were lost in their own worlds or visibly showing signs of disinterest or discomfort.
What also struck me was how quickly those ills evaporated when a new set of performers came through who DID engage the audience.
Suddenly, hands waved and eyes were focussed on the parade.
I first noticed it when that bizarre combination of pandas and roos wandered past me.
Wang Wang, Funi, and the secret of engagement
Those quiet, slothful pandas who live a blissfully dormant life at Adelaide Zoo, feature in a float portraying an almost Salvador Dali-like beach scene of skewed waves, umbrellas and native fauna.
I had noted it as odd last year upon my return to pageanting-as-a-parent but this year before I could dismiss it as underwhelming, my attention was grabbed by the ‘zoo keepers’ who were waving and smiling and delivering a burst of energy as they waltzed their Matildas alongside the strange scene.
It was then the coin dropped that it didn’t matter how bizarre I thought the float was, the human to human communication of interest, eye contact and energy transcended everything.
Suddenly it all make sense
I then noticed often how floats I had written off as quaint or tired could still carry their weight if the people around them carried theirs.
And so it is with our marketing communication and business systems.
It can be more important to be out their in the marketplace TODAY, than to be waiting or wishing for your packaging to be perfect or your office completely polished, for your website to be a prize winning piece of design or your brochures worthy of an art gallery.
Maybe it is more important to ‘just ship’, as the late Steve Jobs used to say, so that you are out there in the game while you finalise finer details as you progress?
It might also signal that even if you are not as light, bright and snazzy as the new kids on the block, as long as you truly engage with your marketplace (not just turn up, but actually engage), you can still make an impact.
The question to deeply ask yourself is how would people rate enaging with you and your team? Boring or briliant?