We can reasonably describe business as a game.
There are certainly winners and losers.
Gaming is an important analogy.
These days, it’s not enough to merely play the game.
Because chances are, your customers are playing the metagame.
What’s the Metagame?
The metagame comprises all out-of-game elements that affect in-game decisions.
You’re playing the metagame if:
- Having learnt from past poker nights that I’m a bluffer, you ‘see’ me more often.
- Having read that tanks are popular with wargamers, you proactively build anti-tank guns.
So what’s this got to do with business?
I needed sour cream.
Out of sympathy, I went to the lady grocer being crushed by the new kid on our block.
She had cream, but it was a day past use-by.
I asked what became of post-use-by food.
She said she threw it away.
Given use-by dates’ error margin, I considered this a waste and a missed recycling opportunity.
So I asked if, since the cream had zero value to her, I could have it.
She said I could, if I paid for it.
Here the game ended, and the metagame began.
- Offering to sell a technically worthless item.
- Preferring to trash food rather than generate goodwill with a regular customer.
From wanting to support her, I couldn’t wait to cross the street to her rival.
Not Just Me
This thing scales.
When big retailers ran full-page ads demanding GST for online shopping, they ignored the metagame.
Instead of convincing government, they alienated their customers and drew even more attention to online shopping.
Tiny, seemingly insignificant decisions can lose you customers for life.
I grant that I’m a twitchy case. But in these tricky times, I don’t think any of us can relax in the comfort of our long-cherished (yet possibly quite perilous) perceptions.
The Tribe Speaks
What elements (if any) comprise your metagame?
Do your customers play it?
Have you ever ditched a supplier (or lost a client) due to something way out of left field?
Tell us about it.
We love hearing your thoughts and stories.
Paul Hassing, Founder & Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire