Feeling lucky?

In this week's Digital Distractions, strategist James Brown refuses to be scared by irrational superstitions: a real marketer makes their own luck

Granary Square
Dirty Harry

Do you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia?

Well, you’re not alone. According to folklore (by which I mean Wikipedia) there are something like three million Brits staying at home today because of Friday the 13th.

Maybe that's wise. You might get struck by lightning, like the 13-year-old boy last year who was hit on Friday 13th, at 13 minutes past the 13th hour . He survived to tell his friends about it, but seeing as it's raining today, I imagine he's staying indoors.

13's the rub

Some businesses try to accommodate the superstitious among us. For example, only two of the UK's top 10 restaurants have a table 13 . The French used to have quatorzièmes – professional diners employed just to add a 14th guest to your table.

According to elevator globetrotters Otis, 85% of the world’s high-rises have no floor 13 . Similarly, United Airlines and British Airways have planes with seat rows that jump from 12 to 14.


Making your own luck

To me, all of that sounds like accepting defeat. Surely we can figure out how to turn the tables in our own favour.

One of Zone's core beliefs is that we make our own luck, and that we like to be in charge of our own destiny. But what does that mean for digital marketers and the brands that we manage?

1. Be ready

Uber-strategist and business guru Henry Mintzberg claims that careful and deliberate planning doesn’t really make much difference to success – all we can do is prepare for lucky accidents. If Stephen Fry tweeted about your business right now, what would you do to capitalise on the sudden fame?  Half of the sites he links to crash within seconds .

2. Have a point of view

When you're constantly digging for gold, it helps to know where to start looking. Travel search engine Kayak.com are all about finding hidden bargains. So when it wanted to join in with Friday the 13th conversations, that's what it researched – and dug up a nugget that made the news: flights on Friday the 13th cost 20 per cent less than average.

3. Practise

“It’s funny, the harder I practise, the luckier I get,” said golfer Jerry Barber. Dove’s beauty sketches video is now the most watched advert of all time, with more than 114 million views. But before this one, they had dozens that hardly moved the dial and weren’t shared at all. If you know where to stand, getting struck by lightning is easy.