6 min read
Since business ownership isn’t exactly something new in the world, it’s typically wise to take a cue from the successful business owners around you. But even there, the question of “Where do I begin?” comes up. How does a new business owner know who to watch? What does a truly successful business look like? And if you want to continue to grow, who do you want to keep your eyes on as a role model?
No matter what your business model or size is, paying attention to the strategies of big brands is a key to jumpstarting your own growth. Getting people engaged with your brand, keeping them coming back for more, and making them feel directly involved are some of the top problems modern marketers are trying to solve.
So what do the US Army, Dominos, and Dropbox all have in common in their marketing strategies?
They make getting involved with their brands feel like a game.
Constantly in the thick of recruitment (sound familiar?), the US Army knows that their target market of recent high school graduates love to play video games. In fact, the US Army utilizes game playing in their internal training so they’ve decided to bring that to the forefront of their recruitment campaign.
On the America’s Army site, you can put yourself in the shoes of a soldier with the role playing game “Proving Grounds”. In the game you don a uniform, grab a weapon, and team up with your Army Unit to complete missions. It’s a full fledged game produced by the very people who want to recruit the players.
But this game isn’t designed just to give you a fun time on the US Army’s dime. According to The Army Brand and Marketing Program,
“the Army Brand is more than the logo and tagline; it is the reputation the Army experience delivers and is enhanced by effective, well-coordinated marketing activities. Internal and external communications, as well as associations with other organizations, aligned to a relevant, central Army Brand theme, coupled with message consistency from all Army communication sources, create the Army’s inspirational Brand image in the mindset of the market.”
In other words, by playing their game, you get to experience the Army brand at it’s core and with each mission accomplished you find yourself becoming more and more interested in what those missions might be like in real life.
I just Googled it and there are 19 pizza shops within a 5 mile radius of where I’m sitting right now. Depending on your city there could be more close to your location (I’m looking at you, New York and Chicago).
In a world of free breadsticks, fast delivery, and BOGO nights, Domino’s Pizza knew it had to come up with a way to stand out.
Enter the Pizza Tracker. Recognizing that there’s a big question mark between ordering your pizza and that big box arriving at your doorstep, Domino’s stepped in with a way to know exactly what’s happening with your order. You are invited to give words of encouragement to the people making your pizza (how nice!). You can even earn rewards for ordering your pizza with the app.
Points = free pizza. Free pizza = customers for life.
While free pizza is nice for some, ask any online business owner what they want more of and it’s digital storage. Dropbox has a solution to your cloud-based storage needs: bonus space for completing small tasks. Sounds like a game, right?
When you run out of space in your standard (free) Dropbox account, you have two options:
And although most business owners will see the value in an entire terabyte of storage for less than $0.50 a day, it’s fun to try your hand at some free space before you jump into that paid plan.
Dropbox even ups the game-like element by assigning different points values to different tasks. Referrals to others to use Dropbox themselves earn you more points than social media sharing, but you get a few MB of space just for a simple click. it’s fun, free, and it helps Dropbox have a wider reach than they could have without you.
Playing games isn’t just for better brand awareness and customer retention. The gamification of your brand could actually save lives.
In her 2012 Ted Global talk, Jane McGonigal explained how games can boost our resilience, help us experience post-traumatic growth, and even give us 10 extra years of life.
Video game research reveals the power we have to prevent anxiety, depression, trauma, and physical pain, by learning to control our attention,” she says in her new book, SuperBetter. “Whether you struggle with any of these challenges currently, or you just want to increase your mental and emotional resilience, games provide the perfect platform for mastering life-changing attention skills.
Games matter so much to Jane that she built SuperBetter, an app that helps you gamify every aspect of your life.
The gamification of business and life has real tangible benefits.
Having trouble getting your contractors to turn in expense reports? Make a game of it.
Need to get your toddler into the car as fast as possible? Turn it into a game.
Not seeing the clients rolling in the door? Create a rewards system so it’s more fun to refer people to you.
Have a goal of saving money, paying down debt, or leaving your full time job for your business venture? Craft levels, goals, and reward yourself along the way.
Turning to the gaming mindset is the next step in the evolution of small businesses, both internally and externally. To win over customers, partners, and team members, having a little more fun with it all is a no brainer. After all, gamification reaches to the heart and soul of what we all desire: the ability to compete, achieve, and win and ultimately be rewarded for all the work we’ve done along the way.