Have you heard the latest buzzword in marketing? Gamification.

A new buzzword for an old concept.

Ever challenged yourself to stop pumping petrol the minute the numbers ticked up to a round number? (Happens way too fast these days.) Ever challenged your kids to spot 50 red cars before you stop for lunch on a long car journey? These are examples of gamification in daily life.

Why do we do it? Well, it helps to make something boring, or difficult, a bit more fun.

Businesses are tapping into this human desire to turn boring things into a game in order to market and sell products and services. To show you what I mean, here are three examples that we’ve spotted recently:

 1) The very lovely productivity app that we use in-house to keep track of our client and business actions has gamified its daily reports. Here’s a pic of what appears in the footer of the daily actions list email.

By giving the user a ‘karma rating’ Todoist has gamified the ‘working through the to do list’ process. When I’m completing actions, I’m increasing my karma rating, so it motivates me (pathetic, isn’t it?) And, every day I’m extra keen to review my daily list, to see if I’ve improved my personal rating. Clever eh?

 2) Beat The Streets is a concept developed by a group of local councils. To encourage people – and particularly kids – to walk, cycle, or scoot more, they’ve installed beatboxes all over Worthing and surrounding areas. You can get a free card from the library or school, and tap it on a box as you go by – you have to tap 2 separate boxes within an hour to get any points, and then the more boxes you tap, the more points you get for your team. You can join any team – there are schools and charities registered as teams. It’s gamifying the act of walking to school (by installing boxes near schools), and all to encourage kids to move more. Kids love it. Grownups quite like it too.

3) Social Selling Index. Social selling means selling your products or services via social networks. A few years ago LinkedIn gamified this concept by introducing its Social Selling Index (more info about this here). The index is an indicator of how effective you are at selling via social channels, and it’s fun to check out your number, but it’s also not doing LinkedIn any harm, as users try to increase their SSI by increasing engagement on the platform.

What can we learn from this?

I think the key takeaway is that, the more you can introduce an element of fun and game playing for your customers or audiences, the more engaged they will be with your brand. A few ideas which are more achievable for small businesses:

  • Use game play on your social media channels to drive engagement and attract attention to your pages. The obvious way to do this is through a competition, but if this seems complex there are simpler options. Use the poll functions on Facebook, or host a ‘respond with A, B, or C’ type controversial question on LinkedIn. Audiences love responding to things like this and it’s a quick and easy way to drive engagement. 
  • Gamify the act of marketing. If you are working within a team and other members of the team aren’t on board with your marketing efforts, introduce a game that will motivate them to support your projects. Give a prize for the person who promotes the company most on LinkedIn through commenting, for example. Or, to encourage shy trade show booth staff, reward the person who makes the most new contacts during an exhibition. Have a secret tally chart inside your exhibition space to get some competitive spirit going.
  • Bring some game to your client relationships. Allow clients to collect points or achieve a certain status once they have passed through a particular ‘gate’ in your service process. For example, in 2012 the Spanish bank BBVA introduced a web application designed to encourage customers to use its services. ‘BBVA Game’ allows customers to earn points when they watch educational videos on how to do simple banking transactions, use the mobile banking app or pay taxes online. Points can be redeemed against music downloads and movie streaming or used to participate in sweepstakes and giveaways.

If you’ve decided it’s time to up your game, get in touch with us, we’d love to help you add some gamification touches to your marketing. Call us today.