As with our previous videos (Shovel Ready, Mother’s Day and 4th of July) we’d like to share them with any green-industry company that would like to use them. We think we’ve made it easy, and we’re giving you options.
Option #1: Simply link to the video “as-is.” Just put the link on your homepage, in an e-mail, or on your Facebook page.
From a new channel I just opened, which is a generic, umbrella name, Cheerful Gardener…which won’t promote my company…in the past, I had used OpenHort as a channel, but I think “Cheerful Gardener” seems a little more consumer-friendly…
Dear Open Hort:
I think maybe the Zombies have already eaten your brains. What an over-reaction! You seriously think people aren’t buying plants because of this game? The truth is that most people want their yards to look nice, always have and always will. The fact that many also want mindless entertainment is nothing new, and it won’t go away either. You’d better focus more on your business (and, you know, those customers who actually want plants) and quit obsessing over Zombies.
You’ve got to admit, that’s a very rational response to last week’s Zombie post. Small, isolated business can’t afford to be distracted, right? “Keep your eye on the ball!” Good advice, but that’s exactly the kind of thinking that ensures we’ll never change.
The evidence has been there for a long time: we aren’t making a case to the world for our value. We shouldn’t rush to dismiss this Zombie game as irrelevant to us when the lesson is that we’re the ones who are irrelevant. My hope is that the shock value of “Plants vs Zombies” is enough to jolt some of us to look outside and say, “What kind of world is this? What’s going on?”
Please allow me to present the first three points to what I’m calling the OpenHort Manifesto.
No. 1: We compete. The competition for attention, relevance and value is global. We are up against everything else that’s trying to capture people’s interest, time and money.
Listen to this and see if it rings true for you: “We’ve seen our sales plummet. The traffic just isn’t there. People aren’t coming in and we don’t know how to get them back. It seems like the only way to make things move is to slash prices. What do we do? We just cut back on purchases and expenses to minimize the losses. We’ve gotta hope for better days.”
Think those missing customers are at your green-industry competitor? Or are they over at the Apple store buying devices to play games like “Plants vs Zombies?”
No. 2: Winning is important. Given that we compete, we should try to win. It’s important that we compete well for our own viability and profitability, and also because our product uniquely helps the world while many competing products do so much harm to our earth, culture and well-being. (Side question: What will winning look like?)
No. 3: We are losing. Wake up. We’re losing this competition, if we’re even in it at all.
OK, enough melodrama! In my next post, I’ll consider three lessons I have learned from “Plants vs Zombies”…Pay attention, Define Value, and Find our voice.
Thanks for reading! There’s a lot more to come, and there’s a lot to do. Also coming soon: some ideas I have about how we could make some of this Zombie-power work for us.
(PS: The quote that began this piece was written by myself to myself. I welcome any comments, especially the negative ones!)
Think things are bad now? You don’t know the half of it. We’re under attack by Zombies!
Times are tough everywhere, but it’s especially bad for the green industry. The worst part is that most of us don’t know why we’re suffering so much. Sure, it’s easy to blame Wall Street greed, Washington incompetence, staggering unemployment and, above all, the massacre in the housing market. But that’s not the real problem.
You better wake up and recognize the enemy we face: Zombies! They’re on the lawn and heading for the house. They’re going to eat our brains!
This is our wake-up call.
You think I’m kidding? Allow me to explain.
Even in the midst of the rising tide of the “green movement,” the value of plants is eroding at an alarming rate. This point was brought across to me in an alarming way last week when I sat down at my computer to make a simple web search.
Type the word “plants”: into a Google search bar. Don’t press enter. Look at your screen. Hold on a minute, see that list that pops up? What in the world is that? “Plants vs zombies?”
Strike you as odd?
Does that seem strange to you?
It’s even worse over at YouTube, and before you roll your eyes and say, “YouTube? Who cares? There’s nothing good on YouTube,” maybe you should know that YouTube, bought by Google four years ago for a staggering $1.65 billion, is the second largest search engine in the world, far bigger than both Yahoo and Bing with about 4 billion searches just like the one pictured below every single month.
What in the world is going on here?
What you’ll find if you click on “plants vs zombies” is a music video with over 3.8 million views. It’s an advertisement for a video game. You should watch it now in the video player below. (Just click the triangle.)
I spent some time last night looking into this phenomenon. Check out what I’ve found. ”Plants vs Zombies” is a computer game that was released in August of 2009, first for PCs and then for the iPod and iPhone. It won the “Game of the Year” award. It’s the #19 best selling app on iTunes. According to the game’s maker, PopCap Games, they sell a copy of their second most popular game, Bejeweled (which is currently #26 at iTunes) once every 4.3 seconds!
And before you rationalize, “Hey, this is just a fad. It will blow over like everything else,” consider this: the game’s popularity has just begun. Don’t you think there will be a marketing push to coincide with Halloween? Then the game will be released for the Nintendo DS in January 2011, which will give it another spike. (As a father of four, I know a little bit about this. There are a lot more kids with a DS than with an iPhone). But watch out, because it’s also not available on the Android yet. That will likely happen some time next Spring. With something like 16,000 Andriod phones sold every day, there’s no telling what kind of explosion the game’s going to have.
Of course, we can then look forward to the inevitable sequal.
Seen enough yet?
“Whatever. It’s just a kid’s game.” You think so? According to PopCap, they’ve received 38 movie deal offers so far. Still don’t get it? Take a look at YouTube. There are six “plants vs zombies” videos with over 1 million views. There are another 12 with over 390,000 views. After that, it trails off a bit…there are 52 other “plants vs zombies” videos with over 100,000 views each! How many videos in total? Just 7,180.
This is staggering. I’ve been trying to make relevant videos all year for our industry that would show plants in a fun, positive way. Thanks to the promotion of Kellee Magge of the ANLA, Sid Raisch of Horticultural Advantage and most of all Chris Beytes of Grower Talks, the best I’ve accomplished is about 1,000 views. And, of course, that’s pretty much an “inside industry” audience. What’s the point in that?
Here’s the sobering truth. Plants are not as relevant or valuable to the marketplace as we think. Far, far from it. A stupid game called “Plants vs Zombies” kills us like we don’t even exist.
All right, hopefully I’ve gotten your attention, so let’s forget about this game for a minute. We all know, from the relative safety of our cozy little nurseries, that “Plants vs Zombies” won’t distract ‘Mrs. Jones’ one bit from buying plants. Okay, I get that. The people buying this game aren’t our target market, right? They’re all probably Gen Y slackers with no disposable income or houses that need landscaping. These aren’t our customers… [Crickets chirpping]
Anyway, the real message, which should be crystal clear, is that there’s a big world out there that doesn’t value our product nearly as much as we’d like to think they do. The lesson to learn is that we, as an industry, not only are not effectively telling our “story” to the world, we don’t even know what story others are telling about us. We see demand for our goods and services fall, and we think, “It’s the economy, stupid.” But that view doesn’t offer any hope. What can you do about the housing market? The downturn in our economy, like a draining river, has only revealed the rocks. When people have to choose more carefully how they will spend their money, they reveal more sharply what they value. The value proposition of plants is really, fundamentally in question. How relevant are we?
We have a lot more to gain by asking “How can we make our product more valued?” than we do by asking “When will the economy finally turn around?”
Think about it for a while. Next week I’ll post what “Plants vs Zombies” and the people playing this game can teach us. And the following week I’ll post some ideas I have to turn the Zombies on the lawn to our benefit. Hey, if you can’t beat’em, join ‘em, right?
If you’re impatient and would like to know my plans for the whole “Plants vs Zombies” guerrilla campaign right away, register here on OpenHort.com and I’ll e-mail it to you ASAP. Otherwise, thanks so much for reading all of this! I hope you’ll come back, and most of all, I’d really love to hear what you think!
My daughter and I made a video last week. We’ve done a couple others, which I have posted on previously. This time, I did not include my company’s name or contact information in the video. Feel free to link or use as you wish. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9UDwXO9uC0
Here’s my own critique of this video and what I was trying to do and what I would do differently…
I’m not very good at planning. Normally, I see an opportunity to make a video and we just go for it. That was the case here with Julia. I had shot a video with Matt Nagle covering Snapdragons and we weren’t really happy with his performance!
So, I went and got Julia and I asked her to run around and say some things and then play with the Snapdragons. That’s why her “story” of the Begonias “are going to look bad” doesn’t really sound convincing or polished.
I wish I had taken 15 minutes to think about what she was going to say before we began!
I shoot with two cameras, a Panasonic DVX100 and a Canon Rebel T2i. The “dolly” shots were accomplished by using a $99 slider from Indi Systems.
We are in an experimenting stage here, trying to figure out what we’re doing! Part of our thinking is that, promoting our own company to our customers is short-sighted. We want to make videos that work on both levels. Our customers can see it and know what our plants look like, but the message is in a form that is interesting and entertaining/informative (?) to anyone who has any appreciation for plants.
It doesn’t feel like we’ve nailed it yet, but I think we’re on to something.