I love spring! Not just because it symbolizes a re-birth each year, but because it's a run up to the best internet & mobile shows. First up, Internet Week which runs from May 14 to May 21. I will be there from the opening party to the closing ceremonies.
As many of your know, over the years, I have demonstrated that all media is social with the right idea. Now it's time to discuss the greater ramifications of this to the brand world and the agency business.
Given that all customers are digital & social -- now the day of the Digital & Social AOR is quickly dying and all agencies are expected to be digital. From media planning to creative the game has completely changed new agency models are winning big business with Transmedia story telling and hard core business results. When the old ways begin to give way to something yet to be imagined, we have a choice. Live in the past or get down to the business of imaging the future. What will you do and how will you organize around your the brands you represent in this new post digital age??
Then if your really a cool cat you will get others to vote too. Help us spread the word by dropping a line (preferably this one: Help us #MakeTheStage at this years @InternetWeek. Vote thumbs up for The Post-Digital Age at http://shar.es/rbWQY ) to your subscribers, friends and followers to vote for The Post-Digital Age at http://shar.es/rbWQY on facebook, twitter, tumblr or what ever platform fits your fancy.
I look forward to seeing you all there - I'll be the one wearing sunglasses inside.
It's all the rage! But what is it exactly? Lets start with a basic definition:
ga∙mi∙fi∙ca∙tion [gay-muh-fi-kay-shuhn]: integrating game dynamics into your site, service, community, content or campaign, in order to drive participation.
The use of game dynamics into marketing is not new. It's popularity has grown in recent years as a strategy for influencing and motivating groups of people. Brand marketers are just starting to realize the power it has to improve customer engagement, build loyalty, and incent employees and partners to perform. In a world where everyone [millennials] gets a trophy, how will your brand engage your customers?
The technique can encourage people to perform chores that they ordinarily consider boring, such as completing surveys, shopping, filling out tax forms, or reading web sites.
But just like anything in business life you must beware of all the HYPE! Understanding how and why gamification works, in what contexts it is most effective, and what the limits are of this approach will be highly useful in sorting out the useful bits. In the next few posts I hope to help provide a basic foundation and definition for the concept of gamification.
At its core, gamification applies the mechanics of gaming to non- game activities to change people’s behavior. When used in a business context, gamification is the process of integrating game dynamics (and game mechanics) into a website, business service, online community, content portal, or marketing campaign in order to drive participation and engagement.
Increasing Participation and Engagement
The overall goal of gamification is to engage with your customers and get them to participate, share and interact in some activity or community. A particularly compelling, dynamic, and sustained gamification experience can be used to accomplish a variety of business goals.
Game Mechanics & Game Dynamics
These two terms are closely related and sometimes used interchangeably. For our purposes, game mechanics are the various actions, behaviors, and control mechanisms that are used to “gamify” an activity — the aspects that, taken together, create a compelling, engaging user experience. The compelling, motivational nature of this experience is, in turn, the result of desires and motivations we call game dynamics.
Game mechanics include:
Game dynamics include:
Humans have been playing games in various forms since the days of the caveman, and competition is deeply ingrained in the human psyche. Given this wide acceptance of gaming and the emergence of the internet, people have become more open to game mechanics in other parts of their lives. As a result, “gamification” is becoming a powerful tool that organizations teach, persuade, and motivate people.
Whether it is Frequent Flyer Programs, Samsung Nation, Nike and iPod's Nike+ or Starbucks or American Express & Foursquare we all at play.
[Sources: October 2007, Bunchball; September 2010, Badgeville, Beyond Gamification: 7 Core Concepts for Creating Compelling Products]
Have you ever stood in a new business pitch and wanted to sneeze "bullshit" when you saw the old marketing funnel pop up? I think the most confusing explanations of the new marketing paradigm is this one Forrester put out a few years back.
The traditional funnel was built on four consumer behaviors: Awareness - Interest - Desire and Action.
If you’re like most marketers, you’ve been spending a lot of time and money trying to shovel more and more attention into the top of the funnel. After all, if you can expose your idea or product to enough people, you can afford to buy more attention, to run more ads, to put more people into the top. This method takes a ton of time and a ton more money.
What's wrong with the funnel?
If your a brand with a little money you have to be much more focused with the way that you spend your media dollars. All marketing including your CRM programs are created to get people to the purchase your product. I would argue that there is no linear path to loyalty. The one constant is continued choice.
It's out of date. Come on - people aren't predictable, linear, rational or sequential beings. They probably never were. Though the four steps make sense in theory from a sequential or even chronological standpoint, the buying game is very different in reality. In a word-of-mouth and word-of-mouse led world, the process of researching and buying is decidedly non-linear, and it's likely that some steps are skipped altogether in an always correcting, efficient and evolving marketplace.
It's lopsided or out of proportion. The reason why the funnel is wider at one end and narrower at the other is not only because of the number of people that are theoretically present at each step, but arguably because of the amount of money spent or available at each step. If you think about it, shouldn't we be spending more money against qualified prospective buyers, versus shots in the dark at bagging a random stranger? Of course we should.
It's oversimplified. There's a fine line between simplifying something complex down to a root or core state, and oversimplifying it to a fault. The marketing funnel does not factor in at least three critical components associated with the qualification process; and even more intriguing is that all three are consumer-driven or initiated, starkly contrasting against the incumbent steps which are all marketing-centric or oriented: Research, Trial, and Satisfaction.
Research: Search is just the tip of the iceberg - a portal into an aggressive and proactive due-diligence process. Consumers today are vociferous researchers; they will do what they can to make informed decisions that disintermediate marketing misdirection, hyperbole, overpromise and hype. They'll also spend increasing amounts of time talking with peers, colleagues, friends and family members, as well as interacting with newly formed "acquaintances" in the social networking and digital community arenas.
Trial: Try before you buy is a crucial solution to hesitation, inability to commit, or indecision. And just like search was the tip of the research iceberg, so too is couponing or sampling the tip of the trial step. Often times, trial is indirect or inferred; for example, a movie review today is independently and representatively vetted, endorsed and validated by a community of "me's" and "you's." When trial becomes an existential experience, there's no longer danger of seeing a bad movie.
Satisfaction: Interestingly enough (if we're using Wikipedia as the gold standard), this is the only missing component of A.I.D.A. that tends to make it into conversations about the consumer qualification process. Perhaps it's because it slots neatly into an acronym (A.I.D.A.S.), and who doesn't love the convenience of a neat-sounding acronym? Satisfaction is the one clue that the funnel is not quite done yet ...
Human beings have become increasingly unpredictable mammals. Expecting them to go through any kind of process (especially one we created for them) with a degree of standardization and/or certainty is a dangerous assumption to make. With incessant distractions, constantly new propositions and exciting ways of transacting with a company, it's no longer valid to bank on a predictable path to purchase. Instead, witness a more realistic behavior, mixed with accelerated, skipped and even repeated steps or pathways to purchase.
What happens to the chosen few that make it through to the other end of the funnel? They fall to their grisly deaths in the vertical drop of attrition. Put less grandiosely and more pragmatically: The funnel is purely an acquisition phase, and does not continue to retention. Perhaps if there were a bucket underneath, we'd be a little more reassured that there was some kind of safety net built into an incredibly costly (or risky) game of conquesting.
Even if the funnel were "closed" insofar that there was a destination or goal, it would still be incomplete; the end point would still be a dead end. The marketing funnel produces customers - but then does nothing with them. With so much effort extended to produce a priceless transaction, it is almost inconceivable that we all but abandon our intensity thereafter. Perhaps we're locked into a cruel version of Groundhog Day when we immediately are taken back to the beginning, only to have to repeat our entire marketing mating dance with (as history has shown us) barely any new lessons learned and diminishing success rates.
Who says your brand needs a big ol' web site? Evidently Skittles has realized that media everywhere applies to their brand.
The collapsible application allows you to scurry around the social networking pages and groups that skittles has set up.
This seems like a great way to organize your "earned" media. While this may be the future of the web for brands who are not transactional destinations - the execution has left out an important social component. Sharing. too bad that the app does not let you post it, embed it, or share a link to it.
Hurray for skittles! I think that this is a good way to redefine your brand by the conversations that people are having about you.
The film industry has finally caught on that there is more to promoting their content properties than launching a branded widget or throwing up a MySpace community. If you want to create a real fan, involve them in storyline and blur the line between the story and their reality.
This is exactly what Hollywood has begun doing. Lets start with the site for the film 2012. A faux group called the Institute for Human Continuity is focused on ensuring the existence of human life after Earth is decimated by a series of events foretold by the Mayans. The Institute has several possible disaster scenarios outlined and links to survival guidebooks -- including one detailing how to survive a tsunami.
Visitors to the Institute can sign up for the IHC Lottery, which offers people across the globe an equal chance at living through the year 2012. I love this approach because it is what Hollywood does best. Ahhh!!!! (sign of relief) The message and the medium sharing an idea and space in a viewer's life.
Visit the site at http://www.instituteforhumancontinuity.org
Shhhh... I hear something. (my RSS feed-reader acting as a glass pressed against a thin wall) It's a Armano's conversation about A Moment of Truth for Digital Agencies. The candid post spurred an observation about our entire industry. Agencies still live in the "service" economy. Visit an agency site, lots and lots of TALK about "conversations agencies". Seems like an oxymoron when you read their case studies and capabilities and they show desperate :30-second spots, websites, widgets, landing pages and emails. They may have changed logos, redesigned their web sites, started blogs and re-thought their approaches but they are still servicing clients who don't understand what it takes to deliver a real conversation. Why is this?
I think there are a five factors driving this.
The vast majority of product companies out there suffer from one or all of the above. They too are still doing business in the "service" economy. What they are missing is that consumers have been bombarded with constant one-way yelling for far too long. That one-way yelling has reached the point of mass cynicism. Breaking through requires insightful connectivity no matter the medium.
Real conversations require courage.
You have to grow a pair. Decide what your going to say to consumers and be proud and consistent. You have to take a stand and be prepared to lead. Be prepared to be criticized, learn from that criticism while staying true to the core of the idea and never accept failure. Look at the evolution of Showtime. The minute they decided to create original content that stood for something different - viewers followed and created tribal villages.
Conversations require social relevancy.
Be contemporary and of the moment. People create movements products can facilitate them. In America today we are the cusp of a new day. A rebuild. What will your product or service bring to that party? Look at Pepsi. (need i say more?)
or Flip Video. Flip has managed to be socially relevant through the constant innovation and putting their product at places that have social relevance. I look forward to seeing them yield emotional insights from their partnerships with YouTube and Facebook. Those insights should lead them to a more emotional tapestry of conversations.
Conversations require deep insights and simple observations.
The need for psychological and sociological insight still remains. Listening to what people are saying is just as important as watching what people are doing. This is the key to making sure you are talking to the right people. Take a look at Nike. They decided they were going to be a fitness company instead of a shoe company. They have used technology, fitness tribes, and the power of peoples individual fitness needs to continue to innovate year after year.
another example of tapping true insight is Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty.
This one is evergreen as well as the conversation that started the ubiquitous drive for marketers to try and replicate this "lightening in a bottle" viral hit. What I love about this example is that it not only uses insight, it continues to be socially relevant as well as courageous. Dove continues to strive to do the right thing for woman despite the critics.
Now that we have a few examples of conversations that have created brand movements we should strive to look at what we need to do to be change agents for our clients and agencies.
Which companies and or agencies have managed to create a real conversation? Which companies have done it all wrong? And during the downturn who will use conversations to connect people with their products?
This is a great video created by ad agency Scholz & Friends. The animation details the dramatic shift in the marketing reality over the last 100 years. What I love about this video is that asks an important question that we should be asking of the brands we work with. “Don’t you have something interesting to say?"
After years of “crafting messages” to appeal a mass consumer market many brands have lost their ability to do or say anything interesting. Te products and services that will survive the conversation economy will be companies that stand for things more meaningful than just promoting the consumption of their products.