Fruit Ninja is a game for the iPhone and iPad. You are a ninja, and you must slash flying fruit with your sword. More fruit, more points. There are different modes of play, and the objective of the game depends on what mode you’re playing in.

In Classic mode, your goal is simply to survive. If you let three pieces of fruit fall without slashing them, or you accidentally hit a flying bomb, you lose. Completely.

To meet the objective of Classic mode, you must play a very conservative game. Don’t get fancy. Don’t drop fruit. Don’t hit bombs. But if you find yourself in an untenable situation and are forced to choose, drop fruit, because you get three strikes with that. One bomb and you’re done.

Don’t start messing around trying to get combos or pretty stuff because they don’t matter. Survival is the only objective. Everything else is a distraction.

In Arcade mode, you can’t lose. You get the cool bonus bananas, and you can make neat combos and stuff. If you hit a bomb, you lose ten points, but it’s not the end of the game. (In fact, if you hit two bombs, you can turn it around to your advantage by deliberately hitting a third, which scores you 50 extra points with the Bomb Lover bonus.)

The objective in Arcade mode is to get as many fancy combos as you can, in as close succession as you can, because the bonus points start to “stack”. It’s almost logarithmic – the better you do, the bigger your bonuses get. Drop fruit as much as you like, try to avoid bombs if you can, but the real objective here is the sexy combos and the bonus bananas.

Don’t get in a panic trying to catch all the fruit. It’s a distraction. A decoy.

The way you play the game is different depending on your objective.

Sometimes, you have to meet Goal A, no matter what. Failing to meet A equals failing outright.

Sometimes A and B.

Sometimes A through E.

Sometimes you’d really like to achieve A through E, but if you had to give up on D, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Sometimes the only one you NEED to accomplish is A, but you’d like to do your damnedest to get B, C, D and E too.

Sometimes you have to accomplish A through E, but C and D are a secret.

Different objectives, different rules.

Imagine you have a small but friendly and loyal client list. You wake up on a Monday morning and say to yourself, “Self, I really must get more clients.”

Well, that’s goal A. Getting more clients.

The simplest way to accomplish this is to bribe new people to hire you. Give them some kind of outrageous discount and make the biggest, unholiest fuss your resources will allow. Excellent.

Except that might be kind of a slap in the face to your current clients, yes?

Well, hello there, Goal B. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Welcome!

You want new clients, and you don’t want to look like a meanie to your existing clients.

Also if you discount outrageously, you’ll probably get too many clients and you don’t want to get burned out.

Goal C! So nice of you to stop by! Come on in, there’s a box of wine on top of the fridge.

You want new clients, you don’t want to be a meanie to your existing clients, and you don’t want to burn out.

And now that you think about it, you realize that taking on a bunch of clients who are shopping for discounts is really not the kind of joint you want to run.

Well, then. Somebody get the door, Goal D is here. This is turning into quite the little soirée, is it not?

Although, when you get right down to it, you’d really rather not work every hour God sends, but Samantha is getting married — she means it this time — and internationally acclaimed harpists don’t pay for themselves. You could burn out for a while if you had to.

Therefore, we determine:

You need new clients,
You can’t piss off your existing clients,
You don’t want discount shoppers,
And you’d rather not work your tits off, but you could if you had to.

Oh, and you can’t work past 4 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, because that’s when you visit your dad in the hospital.

(And you can’t make too big of a fuss of anything because your mother reads your newsletters, and every time you open up for new clients, she’s convinced you’re broke and harasses you for weeks. You never should have left HR, and you shouldn’t have married your first husband, and you really must do something about the garden. What must the neighbors think?)

Now we’re talking.

The way you play the game is determined EXCLUSIVELY by your objectives.

Everything else is a distraction.

If you want more people coming via search, you don’t give a damn how many retweets or comments or “likes” your article gets. Distraction.

If you want more fan engagement, you don’t care about SEO. Distraction.

If you want more fan engagement AND more search engine traffic, stop trying to schmooze with A Listers. Distraction.

If you need ten grand by Friday or they take the house, now is not the time to start getting precious about what your peers might think of your marketing tactics. Your fellow fine art grads can call you a sell-out until they’re blue in the face. You have a house to save.

If you want ten grand by the 15th, but you could live with $4500, and you just had a big promotion and your list is getting really burnt out, today is not the day for a fire sale. I don’t care how much money your Facebook buddy made with her Pay What You Can, don’t do it. Privately offer upgrades to some existing clients and customers, and have a gentle, quiet plan B for if they don’t buy.

If more money would be nice but you’re planning a huge launch in the fall, lay low and build trust. Send a few low key emails offering something you never intend for anyone to actually buy so your people are gently reminded that you are running a commercial enterprise and they won’t balk when you sell something later. No money gets made, but that wasn’t the point.

People will try to sell you products that meet objectives you don’t have.

People will invent new, vital objectives simply to get you to read their blog.

People will try to convince you that meeting this or that or the other objective is all the rage and the cure for all that ails you.

Figure out your own objectives. Screw everybody else.

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