McNuggets vs. Improv

When you think about a McNugget, what are some words or phrases you’d use to describe it? I’m betting these would be among the common ones:

Does it really taste like chicken?
Does it really taste like chicken?

You know what I’m getting at. They all look the same, taste a bit like chicken but not really, have a strange texture, and just aren’t all that trustworthy. Maybe they’re better when they’re dunked in some mystery sauce. Most of us would rather eat something that looks like it wasn’t manufactured on a production line. Doesn’t a free range chicken breast sound much tastier and that you’d actually get some nourishing sustenance out of the experience? The same is true of the content we consume.

I just completed some product training this week. It came in two halves and was delivered by different groups on different sets of products. The first had some presentations and demos which got us familiar with the products and how our customers use them. The next morning we split into groups and everyone in the class presented it back to the class with our own lead-ins followed by demos in which we highlighted the product’s selling points. The intros were all over the map for content. One of my colleagues likened it to Professor X in Cerebro in the movie X-Men (Here’s the closest clip I could find. See 0:57) , someone else likened marketing which wasn’t targeted to a seagull flying overhead and crapping on a crowd, there was talk of ground war tactics vs. air war tactics, and I delivered mine via the iPad sketching app I’ve been using for the blog. Everything was different and we were wondering what approach was going to be used next. The friendly competition to outdo each other kept us engaged and fed our brains with different perspectives. It was free range chicken.

A beautiful day at risk from seagull marketing.
A beautiful day at risk from seagull marketing.

While the first half of the week was going on, the crew doing the second half was polishing their presentations in a conference room next-door. They had their content coordinated down to the syllable, had some upbeat videos to play, and were able to pass the slide clicker with the precision of an Olympic relay team. This synchronized swimming part of the presentation delivered the content it was designed to and more than one person noted that the lead presenter had a gameshow-host-like flair. We also did product pitches and objection handling as a group. That drew people in and gave us a chance to get creative with our answers.

If I had a low point, it was some of the videos. There were some inspiring digital age ones which were posted to the Web by different people and went into what an amazing time we live in. There were some others which were corporate visions from a variety of companies. These last ones came across as McNuggety in comparison to the rest of the week’s more personal exercises and performances. They were closer to buzzword bingo with nice graphics.

The same experiences can be found elsewhere in life. It’s why people pay to see a live concert when they could just buy a studio version of the music for far less than the cost of the ticket. People will go out of their way to experience something engaging. Unless you’re in an absolute rush to cram a meal in, you’d rather have a nice free range chicken than go through the drive through and order a pack of McNuggets. We like to be sucked into that experience and have our brains a bit more nourished on the other end.


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