What Can Nerd Culture Teach Us About Mobile Marketing?

In case you didn’t know it, I’m a huge nerd. I’ve read the mathematical equivalent of twenty Harry Potter books. I own the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings BluRay collections. On my first day of school, I wore a Yoda shirt. And as anyone in the Digital Relativity office will tell you, I have pretty much zero knowledge of anything remotely related to sports.

But, what does that mean for Digital Relativity? What does my vast knowledge of Star Wars anthropology have to do with mobile marketing or app development?

Here are three things that mobile marketers can learn from nerd culture.

While the destination is important, it’s the journey that counts. 

Frodo, the bearer of The One Ring.

Frodo, the bearer of The One Ring.

In case you’ve never seen or read Lord of the Rings, the core plot revolves around a young hobbit’s journey to destroy an evil ring in the volcano where it was created (the only place it can be destroyed.) Granted this is a very drastic oversimplification, that is the core.

Once the ring is destroyed, the hobbit realizes that he has no way back out of the wasteland around him. Suddenly, a giant eagle swoops down and picks him up and carries him to safety. This seems like a stretch, and it makes one ask “Why did it take three books to tell the story of this creature’s journey when he could have just ridden the giant eagle straight there and straight back?”

It’s because that would have nullified the journey. In this scenario, the destination was incredibly important, but the journey was equally important.

In mobile marketing, results matter. If a mobile campaign is not working toward some goal or destination, then there is no point in it existing. But you can’t just demand “results” with no plan. There has to be a journey. There has to be a trip across Middle Earth, or your campaign, to get to the final reward. Be it an app, a qr code, a mobile site or any combination of those, there has to be a journey of some kind.

Revenge Won’t Make You Feel Better

Christian Bale as Batman

Christian Bale as Batman

The Batman story centers around one man, Bruce Wayne. The Waynes were a very wealthy family, with a lot more money than they knew what to do with. When Bruce was very young (eight years old, by most counts), his parents were murdered in front of him while the three were on their way home. This incredible tragedy shifted young Bruce’s worldview so that he devoted the rest of his life to doing whatever he could stop criminality. He wanted to hurt the people that hurt him. He wanted revenge.

In mobile marketing, revenge can be very easily compared to “feature-chasing”. For example, let’s look at two imaginary companies: company A and company B.

Company A releases device A, with feature A.

When device A is released, company B has no comparable feature. So what does company B do? They chase feature A so that they can offer it as well, even if it is a blatant rip-off.

While adding new and exciting features is the best thing any mobile company can do, no one likes a thief. Think of the innovation that could take place if instead of copying features, companies devoted that time and energy to developing new and exciting alternatives.

Fear Leads to Anger 

Jedi Master Yoda in Star Wars

Jedi Master Yoda in Star Wars

In Star Wars, the omnipotent spiritual power in the Universe is referred to as “The Force.” By definition, it is “an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”

But, the Force is not an absolute good. It has two sides, one good and one bad. The path to the dark side is described as fear leading to anger, anger leading to hatred, and hatred leading to suffering.

Believe it or not, this translates very clearly to the mobile world. Mobile is new, and to some people so ingrained in the “desktop” way of thinking, mobile is scary. But what did Star Wars tell us about fear? It leads to anger. Most of the same people who are terrified of change and terrified of mobile will also be the first to become angry and offended when faced with new, mobile-centric ideas like the idea of designing for mobile first, and desktop second. Mobile marketing can be a very powerful ally if we are willing to embrace it.

What similarities have you found between nerd culture and mobile marketing?