Think social media changed small business marketing? What if there was an opportunity that could grow to be 10 times larger in the coming decade? That's how SCVNGR founder Seth Priebatsch described “the game layer” in his keynote address at South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive last week. And, after days of attending presentations and speaking with various experts, I found Priebatsch wasn’t the only one talking about the importance of gaming.
By now, you’ve at least heard of, if not taken advantage of, Groupon and Foursquare. In his discussion, Priebatsch used Groupon as an example of how small business owners can tap the emotional and psychological engagement game mechanics engender. To get an incredible deal at your establishment, Groupon challenges consumers to recruit friends in a race against the clock. If the consumers “win,” they get a fantastic deal, but the small business also wins—more customers—without laying out cash in advance.
Priebatsch’s SCVNGR takes another approach to gaming, enticing users to check in at locations and earn points, but they can also participate in various “challenges” to earn more points. The points earned at each location can often be redeemed for rewards at those locations, such as a free menu item at a restaurant you visit regularly.
Using a similar approach is the better-known Foursquare, which received a lot of attention at the conference as the company relaunched its product with an updated leaderboard for players to enjoy a more robust game experience. With Foursquare, the “game” is also about exploring the world and sharing your experiences and earning points for a participating in such activities as “checking in.”
As an example of how this game layer could be leveraged by a business in a unique way, American Express partnered with Foursquare at SXSW. Working with local merchants, we took checking in a step further by providing discounts to consumers who made a purchase (using their American Express card, of course) within the business they checked in at.
And that’s one of the challenges for business owners: how to tap into gaming in a way that’s unique to your business? Another is, which solution should you use? On OPEN Forum, there’s a lot of information and reviews of the pros and cons of the various options, such as “Should You Run a Groupon Promotion?”, “Beyond Foursquare: 5 Location-Based Apps for Your Small Business”, and “5 New Ways Small Business Can Offer Location-Based Deals.”
My suggestion is, start using these games yourself. Sign up for Foursquare, SCVNGR, Groupon or others and experience it as your customers do. And if you’ve already tried these, share your learnings in the comments below. Thanks...and game on!
Image credit: nan palmero