Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga, Robot Unicorn Attack 2—the list goes on and on, and we bet if you own a smartphone and you’re completely honest with us, you’ve been sucked into a game or two over the last year. (Am I right?)
What can you learn from these highly addictive games when it comes to running your business? Sit back and enjoy the ride, because we’re about to tell you.
1. Create opportunities for social interactions. And we’re not just talking about interactions between you and your customers, but also your customers with one another. On social media, people often share their progress with certain games (like when they reach a new level, for example), and part of the fun is seeing how your friends compare with where you are in the game. And if you haven’t been playing a particular game, but you hear about it enough, you might just try it yourself.
How you can apply this to your business. The best marketing is word of mouth from happy customers, so find ways for them to share their experiences online with their friends. A couple of ideas:
- After someone checks out online, send them a “super social” confirmation email where you’ve created tweets and status updates they can post to their Twitter and Facebook pages with a couple of clicks. The update might read something like, “I just shopped at Awesome Store, and guess what I bought?” or “I just shopped at Awesome Store and got a great deal! You can, too. Check out their site.” The key is to have a variety of updates (three or so) for people to choose from…and you can give them the ability to customize the tweet/update as well.
- At in-person checkouts, offer a couple of pre-stamped postcards for people to drop in the mail—all they need to do is address them. The postcard would serve as a “refer-a-friend” promotion, so if the customer’s friend buys from you, then your customer will get a discount on his or her next purchase. This encourages new business AND repeat business.
2. Think in terms of hidden “Easter eggs.” You’ve probably played an online game at some point where you unlocked some unexpected treasure that you had no idea even existed. These little “Easter eggs” make gaming that much more fun.
How you can apply this to your business. Think of ways you can surprise and delight your fans. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Maybe one Wednesday, you announce to your Facebook fans that if they buy from you today and mention the special Facebook word (make it something fun and memorable), then they get a discount or something for free. So, if you own a restaurant, you might tell people that anyone who comes into dinner tonight gets a free appetizer if they say a certain word or phrase to their server.
The thing about surprises is that they really do need to surprise…so we’re not suggesting you do this every week (because then people will come to expect it, so it will lose its novelty).
Another idea? Put a hidden “fun find” in the bottom of the shopping bag. Maybe it’s a free promotional item of some sort along with a note that says, “Thanks for being such a great customer. We really appreciate your business.” Again, it’s a nice touch, and it’s memorable because it’s so unexpected.
Here’s another idea: Highlight a top fan from one of your social media accounts and say, “Hey, Mary Smith! We want to thank you for being such an awesome fan. We have a special gift that we’re all set to send you…contact us directly with your mailing address and we’ll get it to you ASAP.” You’re pretty much guaranteed that Mary Smith will talk about your business even MORE. But it’s a great way to show all of your fans how much you appreciate their participation (and it encourages others to participate more in the hopes they might get a special gift someday).
3. Don’t underestimate the power of bells and whistles and shiny stuff. While content is king, design and layout are most definitely its queen. Online games are always rich in content, but also design.
How you can apply this to your business. Always consider design and layout when you release content, even something as benign as a status update on Facebook. For example, maybe you’re getting ready to share a testimonial. Instead of just writing the words, consider embedding them in an image and share that instead. The same is true with any other content you release—from product sheets to white papers to email newsletters, make sure the look and feel reflects your brand, looks great on a numerous devices (from phones to desktops), and “pops.”
4. Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling. When you play a game, you have a quest. For some online games, like Candy Crush Saga, the stages of the games are broken down into different episodes, like Lemonade Lake where players need to help the pink dragon fill the lake that’s run out of the yummy drink. This helps situate fans and plays to their imagination, calling upon the kids we once were.
How you can apply this to your own business. Stories resonate. Stories are memorable. Instead of describing the features and benefits of your latest product, consider telling the story about how you first came up with the idea. Where were you? What inspired it? What happened next? What were some of the failures and successes along the way? Yes, you still need to publish the more matter-of-fact content as well (like data sheets), but it’s the stories people are likely to remember more than, say, the dimensions and weight of your latest widget. Need help unlocking great stories? A good copywriter can ask the right questions to help unravel and reveal a cool way to tell your company’s story. Learn more about deciding who should write your content here.
5. Play games! This one should be the most obvious. People LOVE playing games. Just consider this staggering statistic for Candy Crush Saga, which has been downloaded more than half a billion times as of December. Games are fun to play, fun to talk about with others, and a great way to relax and kill some time.
How you can apply this to your own business. Simple—play more games. No, you don’t need to develop a complex online gaming experience, but think about games you can have your customers play through social media or your website. Let’s say you sell home furnishings. You could have an “Ugliest Couch Contest.” People submit pictures of their ugly couch. Fans vote for the ugliest, and the winner gets a new couch. Just be sure you’re aware of the contest guidelines on the social media sites you use.
Can you think of other lessons small business owners can learn from ridiculously addictive games? Share in the comments…along with the level of Candy Crush you’re on! ;)