As the autumn grows colder, more and more people retreat indoors. Last Tuesday, well over 600 people were offered refuge from the chilling October winds by IGDA Helsinki chapter together with Wargaming. The international company, headquartered in Nicosia, Cyprus, is responsible for many successes, including World of Tanks.
The guests were treated to food and open bar during the fun and relaxed party phase of the evening, but over 200 people showed up already for the information-packed seminar. The IGDA Finland pioneer Jay Ranki, currently the Development Director at the Wargaming Nicosia HQ, gave a short recap of what the company has been up to over the years and introduced the speakers.
The audience was in for two presentations: Milos Jerabek, Development director for World of Tanks, talked about project management. Wargaming’s Global Head of Marketing, Juuso Myllyrinne shed light on how to tap into the surrounding culture for great marketing gains.
Read more about the seminar below, and see you in November!
“What is a lead and what they should really be doing”
After the traditional demo effects and tech hiccups, Mr. Jerabek took the stage. His presentation was mainly directed at team leaders, but offered interesting insight to anyone looking into becoming a team lead themselves one day.
His core messages was that bad management drives people away and damages your company’s reputation, harming future recruitment prospects. Hiring is expensive, so you shouldn’t waste it!
What is the best way to keep your team together, motivated and productive? According to Mr. Jerabek, the team lead should be an expert in their field, but more importantly, enable the team to do their best work. This includes knowing the team on a more personal level, finding out why they may be unproductive or unhappy and then helping them solve these problems.
Ideally, the lead should make themselves unnecessary in the everyday management, let the team have ownership of their work and avoid micromanaging. The manager should be further ahead of the team, clearing a path to the future, instead of putting out small fires.
However, it is just as important to decisively call the shots, especially when only bad choices are available. Mr. Jerabek stressed that making the choice you can live with is always the way to go. Not doing anything is the worst you can do.
Mr. Jerabek also gave more direct tips for managers:
Hire people who are more accomplished than you so you can improve.
Aim for a team that complements each other’s weaknesses and has many exceptional strengths, rather than a team where everyone is moderately good at everything, but not outstanding at anything. All superstars necessarily have some weaknesses due to concentrating heavily on their strengths.
Communication must go both ways. Listening and being approachable is crucial. Dictating and not explaining your reasonings will eventually lead to loss of motivation and employees leaving. And the best way to know someone’s about to leave is when they stop caring and arguing.
Always aim to improve!
Mr. Jerabek also reminded the audience that although teams need to build around experienced seniors, you should also bet on the future. Finland has great schools and amazing juniors, so empower them and bring them along to create great future professionals!
Milos Jerabek’s reading list as provided. Links discovered by the reporter, so while they are probably right you may wish to confirm with Mr. Jerabek about the last two:
- Hard things about Hard Things – how it looks in the big league
- Getting out of the box
- Sociology for dummies
- StrengthsFinder 2.0: what's your super power
- The Goal – how to rebuild your team
- Diplomacy – how to work with assholes
Marketing at the speed of culture
Juuso Myllyrinne’s presentation was loud, fast-paced and highly amusing, but also very informative. At the first glance it seems that today’s marketing is driven by “robots and machines”, it’s based on ever-refining algorithms, big data, metrics and other assorted buzzwords. But is there space for creativity?
When asked “how many of you in this room have clicked on a banner ad in the past week”, zero hands were raised. Zero. Currently, the customers are being bombarded by thousands of ads daily, wherever they go. And people are extremely good at filtering them out, as this very unscientific poll shows.
Mr. Myllyrinne’s first example was the recent Norwegian Airlines’ ad campaign for discount flights to Los Angeles. (For those living under a rock at the time, the ads read “Brad is single”, and were published in newspapers and online merely days after Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s divorce.)
It was a prime example of a relatively low cost campaign that gained traction because it turned into what Mr. Myllyrinne called “social currency”: people shared it voluntarily on their social media. They found it funny and hoped that other people would also see them as cool and funny when they shared the ad. And it worked: millions of views and shares, and more importantly, attention, all for free.
This was Mr. Myllyrinne’s main point: tapping into the culture and reacting quickly into events larger than you. In the best case, the ripples will spread and cause another reaction: if you keep feeding this loop, visibility can be multiplied.
This gives your company a competitive edge over others. The traditional kind of performance advertising, the kind where you pay money for exposure and results is all fine and good, but someone larger will always be willing and able to buy your audience.
To avoid that, Mr. Myllyrinne introduced three difficulty levels of being relevant:
Know your customers: demographics, what do they like, their lifestyle?
Have empathy, care about what your customers care about.
Join the big conversation. Have values, a point of view, make your voice heard.
The second example was on a larger scale: the case of The_OMFGTR. In short, Canadian EDM star Deadmau5 (hugely popular in Japan, btw), turned his Ferrari into the Purrari, a bright blue sportscar with Nyancats on the sides, custom logos and floormats and all. Ferrari sent him a cease-and-desist letter.
Nissan stole the moment from Ferrari by tweeting a picture of their GT-R sportscar wrapped in a similar Nyancat design. Deadmau5 loved it, and as the story gained more and more audience, Nissan eventually actually shipped the custom GT-R to Canada. They made Ferrari look like grumpy old conservatives while making a huge impression on their core audience by empathising with their disappointment and providing a solution. Well played, Nissan.
Mr. Myllyrinne also reminded the audience, using a terrifying example, that if a company stays out of the public focus and concentrates on only traditional media, they might end up being dragged out in the open anyway, and not on their own terms. So best beat them to the punch!
Simply put, keep your eyes and ears open to the world, react quickly (or the moment will pass), best use fast and relatively cheap channels like social media. Not everything will necessarily become a viral hit, but the low cost keeps it worth the effort. And as an answer to an audience question, the optimal way to go about it is create interest and have people talk about it, then capitalise on it with traditional advertising. Seems solid!
Mr. Ranki wrapped up the seminar by reminding the audience of Wargaming’s publishing side as well and encouraged mingling, networking and making contact: “Everyone in the room should know that there's a friendly face at Wargaming!”
Wargaming has quite substantial experience in different markets and their focus points around the world, and Mr. Ranki encouraged the devs in the audience to approach them about publishing. Currently, Finns form the third largest demographic at Wargaming, and they want to bring a part of Finnish game development spirit to the company. Co-operation, communication and openness. Not a bad thing to be exporting!