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Paint the Town Green

Paint the Town Green

Ideas Marketing Case Study

Yesterday I posted about Ideas Marketing and the eight elements that bring your ideas to life. Today, I want to share an example of how to do this. I had a host of examples for this and I’m actually the most excited about one that doesn’t exist right now.

A recent practice that I’ve adopted is to go onto LinkedIn and comment on 5 posts each day. Yesterday, I noticed a post by Tess Nobile (I’m not even connected with Tess) with the beautiful picture that I’ve copied and posted on this page of the hand with the green paintbrush.

And, I commented:

“I know the expression, ‘paint the town red’, I’m curious what ‘paint the town green’ means?

Tess replied:

“…Maybe ‘painting the town green’ could mean going out and ‘creating’ opportunities that serve us and the greater good…”

And, I thought… ‘What a great idea to put through the Ideas Marketing framework’. So here goes… I’ll step you through how you might apply the eight elements of Ideas Marketing to this idea.

1 Manifesto

The first step is to expand on this idea of painting the town green and Tess’s idea of ‘creating opportunities’ and the ‘greater good’. I’d start with the fundamental question: What would the world look if we did ‘create opportunities for the greater good’? What would be solved? What would be created? Here are some thoughts:

  • Solved: End of selfishness and jealousy. The demise of the individual? Or at least, a shift in self-interest.
  • Created: A world that works for everyone. Less waste, more value. Being inclusive. Extending your focus and attention beyond yourself. Building empathy.

There’s a real opportunity to identify an enemy to defeat here. The greater good implies the opposite of the lesser good – a narrow benefit to a small group of people. This could become a war against this. For example, each time a political party flags another short-sighted policy, we could protest with our green paint brushes. I can see it now, a sea of protesters marching down the street all holding green paint brushes!

2 Game

One of the side-effects of painting is that you get it all over your fingers. It’s inevitable! This can be used to advantage in this case…

Once we’ve created our manifesto we need to translate it into a specific game or campaign. One way to kickstart the Green Paintbrush Movement would be to use green nail polish on a single finger to signify that you’re part of the movement. This will have everyone you meet either ask questions, give you sideways glances or both. This can then be amplified with an online photo sharing campaign.

The short-term startup goal of the movement might be to:

  • Have 1000 photos shared
  • 1000 Facebook likes or
  • 1000 comments of a blog post

Once this initial level of interest has been generated other campaigns to have people take deeper action could be created.

[Tweet ” How to change the world with a green paintbrush #ideasmarketing case study”]

3 Publish

Statue of LibertyThe power of creating your manifesto first is that it gives you a platform for publishing your idea in various forms. A great publishing campaign here would be to invite followers to share how they have used these principles for the greater good. And, this would be a good start of building the community too.

The second part of creating a manifesto might be to define the rules of how to create opportunities for the greater good. This might become a series of ebooks, blog posts or books including:

  • A general guide
  • A set of specific guides (eg Greater Good Thinking for Your Next Meeting or Decision Making for the Greater Good for Busy Executives)

This is a great opportunity for publishing the idea and spreading the word. Can you see how all these ideas link up and reinforce one other? The Manifesto is published as a set of books that become Artifacts that share the method or Rituals for making it happen.

4 Experience

For me, the experience of an idea occurs at three basic levels: my individual experience, my experience as part of a group and my experience as part of a bigger movement.

My experience as an individual ‘Green Painter’ would be all about the powerful emotions of looking for and creating opportunities. This would be uplifting, curious and creative.

My experience with a group of people working for the greater good would be inspiring, enthusiastic and infectious. Any event where you could deliver on this would be very attractive!

Finally, my experience of being part of a bigger movement that was truly making a difference for the greater good would be one of pride – a very powerful emotion. This is why the potential use of symbols is very important here. I’d definitely be creating public displays through the use of branded jewellery and clothing!

5 Artifact

Pink RibbonThe metaphor of the green paintbrush is brilliant! It could become a powerful symbol because it lends itself beautifully to creating a series of artifacts and tools that remind us of ‘creating opportunities’ and the ‘greater good’. Here are some initial sparks:

  • We’ve all seen pink ribbons and wristbands, so how about a green paint brush? It could be a brooch or pin, it could be something that sits on our desk and it could be on flags.
  • I like the idea of a life-size paintbrush made from plastic. And, I can imagine the Statue of Liberty holding a green paintbrush instead of a lighted torch! A photo-shopped image of this might be the first one to create and publish! And, this could be the start of a fun and powerful series of postcards, posters and possibly a viral social media campaign.
  • What else goes with a paintbrush? Yes, we could have paint tins and we could have a canvas to paint on. And, I like the idea of a painter’s hat – like an actual green hat from De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats.

6 Cult

A cult or community of like-minded people requires that we define who might be interested. In particular, what is the collective identity of the group?

What would they call themselves? I love the idea of the ‘Green Painters’. It immediately sets up the need for t-shirts that could be as simple as a splash of green paint. No words, just an identifiable shape of green paint. When you’re in the know, you’d know what it means. Otherwise you’d have to ask. A whole clothing line might be the new uniform of this bunch of radical do-gooders! I like the idea of it looking like you really did spill green paint on your t-shirt or best dress! This could be a profitable way to spread the word too!

The Green Painters would meet regularly to have design thinking meetings and brainstorms about solving social problems or organizational issues with a specific focus on the greater good.

And, naturally, we want to embed the phrase ‘paint the town green’ into the common language like its inspiration ‘paint the town red’. This could be kick-started by calling your meetups ‘Paint the Town Green’ and encouraging your community members to say it often. It could also be the catchphrase in a meeting to request greater good thinking:

Hey guys, I think we need to paint the town green here!

7 Rituals

Creating a ritual is all about ‘how do we use this idea on a daily basis?’

I think the key here is to use the paintbrush as the trigger to stop and look for opportunities and in particular to look for opportunities that are win-win-win. For instance, in a meeting, there could be a green paintbrush on the table that anyone can pick up to alert the group for the need to focus on opportunities and the greater good.

Alternatively, a decision-making app. Every time you have to make a decision you pull out the app to identify the greater good. Score points for each success and share them with an online group to spur each other on.

8 Gestalt

How do we bring all this together and make it a sustainable idea? There are a number of possible business models here. Three stand out for me right now:

  1. Tess could run this as her business. It could be her signature thing that has her speaking at conferences and invited into organisations to teach people ‘opportunity thinking’ and ‘thinking for the greater good’.
  2. Given the focus on the ‘greater good’ this could easily become another not-for-profit that simply focused on spreading the ‘greater good’ message.
  3. The third option could be a starting point or an end evolution. I believe ideas are like wild horses. If we tame them we lose the thing that we fell in love with. This idea needs to be set free. I’d be looking at ways to give the idea away for others to run with it. I don’t mean for free. I mean create the tools for others to use the idea in all manner of situations. And, by doing some of the things that I’ve suggested here, a profitable business based on the sale of useful artifacts could fund this idea so it does spread around the world. Of course, I believe this, I’m an idealist!

Would you join?

This has been a bit of a rambling brainstorm pointing out how Ideas Marketing could be applied to a seemingly simple idea. The real test is this: Would you join the Green Painters based on this description? Love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below.

PS: I’m going to create a thought experiment like this once a week. If you have an idea that you’d like me to brainstorm based on the Ideas Marketing framework send me an email via the contact form on this site. It might be a new idea or an existing one.

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