Camp Checkmate Improv Games

The Dating Game – a Camp Checkmate favorite

One of the games we play at Camp Checkmate is a version of The Dating Game, where you get to explore the appeal of your competitors from the point of view of your ideal customer. To give you a sense of what The Dating Game looks like, check out this video from Whose Line Is It Anyway?:

Of course we won't have you turning into a parrot or sitting in a dentist's chair; instead you and your scene partners will help you see how to out-position your competitors for the click and sale. 

And don't worry – no one's asking you to be clever, witty, or quick on your feet. At Camp Checkmate, these games are meant to be fun, easy, and powerfully helpful.


Many of the Camp Checkmate activities you'll be participating in are actual improv games and exercises.

In case you're not familiar with improv (improvisational theater), the basic idea is to be totally present to the moment, stretch your thinking skills, empathize deeply with the character you are playing, and make the scene work by collaborating with your fellow actors.

It's a great medium for marketers because it's a painless and fun way to explore the mind of your customer in lots of different ways.

This page features a few of the games we play, why we play them, and what they look like.

Dear Doctor Freud

In this game, you play a therapist running a meeting for three of your prospects who are scared to take the next step with you. For a bunch of reasons, they're afraid to opt-in, or watch a video, or buy, or whatever your landing page Most Desired Action is. After 10 minutes, the four of you uncover the secret fears and objections that you need to overcome to make more sales.

I made this game up, but here's a very strange version of the same sort of thing, with a group of patients addicted to game shows (first three minutes of the clip):

Testimonial "Yes and"

In this game, your three scene partners become a composite Ideal Customer who has experienced your product or service, and has a wonderful story to tell about how great it was. The "Yes and" method is the heart of improv, and it allows players to build and heighten the description of your product or service so that it becomes the greatest thing they've ever seen. 

Somewhere in all that playful hyperbole are buried at least two great ideas that you can actually apply to your business so that you are able to get testimonials like these in the future.

Here's a badly taped clip of a recent improv show in which my scene partner Justin and I play plumbers. Without a story to go on, we build the scene by "yes and"ing each other. (I get a little confrontational at one point, straying from the game, but hey, I'm learning. And they clapped.)

Press Conference

This game features three reporters from Oprah, Springer, Geraldo, etc. delving into the secret life of your Ideal Customer at the moment they're ready to search for your main keyword. What emerges is a richly textured, 3-D model of a specific Customer Avatar, complete with hot buttons, fears, hidden agendas, secret grudges, and heroic aspirations. In short, a real person you can fall in love with and serve better than any of your competitors.

This video of Press Conference is absolutely nothing like the one at Camp Checkmate, but it's pretty funny:

Not All Fun and Games

I don't want to give you the impression that Camp Checkmate is all fun and games. It's only MOSTLY fun and games. But those games yield insights that can transform your business. Camp Checkmate gives your brain new inputs, new experiences, and new options. You'll leave Camp Checkmate with new ads that attract the right clicks, landing page copy that grabs attention, builds desire, and overcomes objections, and visionary improvements that allow you to position your business as fundamentally and dramatically different and better than your competition.

If some part of your brain is thinking, "Sounds like fun, but what are the deliverables?", here's a short video of reactions to the game Press Conference at the 2010 System Seminar Club meeting in Chicago in April. You'll see really serious marketers raving about where their brains took them and what they got out of the game:

Need more testimonials? Here's a whole Youtube playlist, starting with the one you've just watched, and adding a bunch of short individual clips.

Ready to reserve your seat at Camp Checkmate Chicago, June 10-11, 2010? Click here to make sure you don't miss the boat.

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