Three Ways Gaming Culture Can Impact Your Marketing Plan
In last month's Tech Tip, I attempted to convince you that video gaming has as much cultural impact as movies or music. This month, I'm going to share three ways that you can utilize our culture's fascination with gaming to improve your marketing efforts.
- In-game Advertising and Product Tie-ins.
Some games are built in a way that they can offer in-game advertising. This is especially true of sports games and open environment games, which can decorate their virtual worlds with billboards promoting real products. Microsoft-owned Massive Incorporated might be a good place to start looking if you're interested. For large brands, or brands specifically relevant to a specific game or genre, this kind of advertising can be quite effective. Ads can currently be targeted geographically, and my guess is that the technology will eventually enable you to target very specific demographics.
- Create Your Own Game.
There's possibly no other form of marketing that can engage your customer quite as well as a carefully constructed game that helps promote your product or brand. Some of you may have heard of the Burger King video games that were created for the Xbox. While these games were generally well-received and probably brought Burger King its fair share of publicity, this type of thing isn't the most practical use of smaller marketing budgets. However, less ambitious, Flash-based games may actually be feasible, even on smaller budgets. Plus, if you craft the game so it's strategically helping to communicate the message of your brand, it's probably money well-spent. Consider Cooking Mama - Mama Kills Animals, a game created by PETA. Regardless of what you think about PETA, the game fits well with their overall brand image and effectively communicates their message in an engaging, and fun way (sort of).
- Look For Ways to Offer Your Customers Rewards.
One thing that video games do really well is offer continuous rewards. For some reason our brains are wired to respond very well to rewards, even when they are intangible. Customer reward programs are nothing new. Frequent flyer miles and credit card points are two obvious examples. However, games have taught us that these rewards don't even need real-world value to be effective. Some gamers will play a game long past the point that it was fun, just to earn a virtual "achievement" or beat their previous high score. Recently, I've noticed quite a few websites that have recognized this and implemented virtual rewards for participation. TV.com, for example, offers emblems and experience points for posting reviews, adding favorite shows and commenting on articles. LinkedIn uses a simple "completion score" to encourage people to add more information to their profile. As irrational as it seems, even these intangible numbers can do a lot to motivate participation. It may seem trivial, but you should never pass up an opportunity to add a score or reward system when it's appropriate.
The success of gaming in general and video gaming in particular can teach us a lot about what motivates consumers. Using that information can help you communicate more effectively and engage them in a way that is beneficial to your brand and entertaining to your audience.
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