Bridging the Gap with Gamification

Virtualizing our marketing event was successful but we knew we needed to raise the bar for the next one. So, we introduced gamification into the process to help bridge the engagement of the virtual and physical audience in similar activities. It was a whirlwind of activities to get it setup in time for the event but the team came together and we’re able to roll out a week before the event launched. We had heard horror stories of other large companies using gamification for scavenger hunts that were so complicated that it backfired on social media. So, we decided to keep it simple.

Keeping our gamification missions to a few simple activities enabled everyone to participate without having to spend a great deal of time jumping through obstacles. Again, within our online community we created a calendar of activities that everyone could participate and each one would earn them a badge on the next step of completing the mission. The mission was simple and there were activities for both physical and virtual attendees. View a session, ask a question, start a discussion. For the physical attendees we added a twist that included integrating badge scan activities at a few of the booths. So, if you attended a booth and had your badge scanned you could earn a special achievement that created a surprise and delight. These achievements could be leveraged by partners, divisions or any related booth sponsored activity that supported your event messaging.

The results were mixed on our first attempt and we would continue to refine the process to create better engagement but it opened up new opportunities for membership recruitment. We did see a 20% jump in engagement of new discussion threads and those advocate members where eager to participate in the next achievement in order to advance their knowledge level status within the community. However, what we realized afterward, was many of the physical attendees either weren’t currently a member of the community and or weren’t aware there was one. So we turned this information into an opportunity to inform customers, partners and yes, even employees about the value of the community and how it was used for driving knowledge awareness and ultimately assisting those through the buying decision. This was one of the many programs that helped us double our membership and engagement and jumpstart internal awareness. Once, others became aware of the program they wanted gamification implemented for all marketing activities that provided a grassroots marketing effort of content back into the community.

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How to Virtualize a Marketing Event

During the “Great Recession” many companies were cutting back on travel expenses so it became harder to drive attendance of physical attendees. It was a problem that everyone faced and we realized we needed to do something to virtualize our event to maximize our messaging to the audience even if they weren’t attending. So, we decided to stream the event online to our community, allow them to participate virtually and even engage speakers and other attendees from the comfort of their office.

Note that I said community and not website. This was by design as we were also looking for a way to drive membership adoption to increase the number of active members in our community. So, we created a virtual calendar of activities and topics that we would stream so members could coordinate their time and participate in the sessions they were interested. This was a combination of knowledge experts, customer testimonials, keynote speakers etc… We also created an active chat that could be engaged online during the video session where we could respond and answer questions in real-time. This was our solution to bridging the gap between online and physical activities. Those who attended would walk by the small stage we were broadcasting from and watch as well as provide the exact same experience to those who where not able to attend.

The result was an active and engaged audience both physically and virtually who helped drive additional awareness and messaging via our omni-channels. The content was then posted and available on-demand so it became and evergreen marketing activity that continued to provide engagement well after the event was over.

Bunn: An American Customer Experience

This is an off cycle post for me but after speaking at the Argyle Customer Care Leadership Forum last week I thought it would be appropriate to share an American customer experience. It was 2008 when I was in the market for a new coffee maker and with the economy in the tank I was determined to buy American made. However, it wasn’t as easy as I thought. So, I went to my local hardware store and started looking at coffee makers. I didn’t need anything fancy just wanted to make a pot of coffee and something that I wouldn’t have to replace after a few years.

 

What I found out was there is only one coffee maker made in America, Bunn. When I struggled to find a coffee maker at the store I asked a clerk and he said “Mr. Coffee”. Nope. Not even the iconic Mr. Coffee with the all American icon Joe DiMaggio as a spokesperson wasn’t made in America anymore. The clerk and I were both shocked so I settled on the Bunn. Bunn is normally known as an industrial coffee maker and if you have ever gone through a Dunkin Donuts you will notice that is all they use to make their coffee. It was more expensive than the others but it was made in Springfield, Il and I couldn’t help but support a business near where I grew up.

 

So, three years have passed and we have enjoyed the fact that an entire pot of coffee is brewed to perfection within 3 minutes. But as with anything, things break. And to be honest I think I may have contributed to the thermostat shorting out by pouring water in and then remembering to turn it on to heat up the water. So, I called Bunn. I got right through to an actual human being and the warrantee process was about as simple as it gets. No sending in the warrantee card, just read the number off the bottom of the coffee maker. I could have sworn it had been more than three years but the customer service professional said. “Yep, it is under warrantee and we will ship you a new one in 5-10 days. All I ask is you pack up the other and ship it back.” I was amazed and graciously agreed to ship back the old one in exchange for a brand new Bunn coffee maker. Try doing that with a coffee maker made in China.

 

5 Days later I received the new coffee maker. I went through the steps to setup, filling the reservoir with water, rinsing the carafe and plugged it in to begin heating the water. It is this type of simple service that creates loyal and brand advocates and it all starts with the front line. And the fact that Bunn actually wanted the broken maker back to be recycled was even more impressive. In this disposable age where we throw items out and replace it with the next one for $29.99 it was refreshing to see the benefits of buying American. I don’t know about you but I will gladly spend more for a quality product, superior customer service with a company that is passionate about recycling versus disposing any time.

 

Most consumers are more likely to write negative comments then they are positive so I felt I owed it to Bunn to let them know they got it right. Congratulations Bunn! You delivered an amazing American customer experience and return earned my loyal advocacy. I will never own another coffee maker. Thank you for delivering a quality product, excellent customer service and more importantly keeping the fine folks in Springfield, Il employed.

 

5 Things a Digital Agency Can’t Do

I have the opportunity to work with quite a few digital marketing/creative design agencies over the years, some good and others not so much. Agencies are good with coming up with creative ideas, provide design concepts and proving an extension of your team but there some things they just can’t do.

Executive Support

An agency can’t help you get support from the executive team that can help secure funding and remove obstacles. They can pull together a pretty creative pitch but ultimately you need to be the one to pull together the support and be able to clearly communicate to the executive the strategy, the objective and impact. Getting executive support will ultimately lead to your success or failure.

Funding

An agency can pull together some elaborate plans but if you don’t have funding then what is the point. I have found over the years if you don’t pull together the strategy and help guide the agency you may end up with a plan that can’t be delivered. Funding for a project depends on your ability to be able to communicate that impact to the executive team if not present the ROI. In the case of rolling out an internal social intranet there wasn’t an ROI as much as the impact of transparent communication and collaboration was huge.

IT Resources and Infrastructure

Again, if you don’t help lay some reasonable expectations for an agency you may find yourself in a situation where you have great plans but no one to implement the infrastructure required. Building a cross collaboration team that includes your IT team, HR and keeping finance included will help improve your ability to deliver.

Communication

An agency will typically provide a project manager and can assist with team project updates but not overall executive or divisional communications. When you are building your team it will be important to keep your stakeholders close and well informed. You may need one or two team members that share this responsibility to ensure stakeholders are aware of the plan, status and more importantly how it benefits them. This will be critical to keeping objections and obstacles to a minimum. It also helps build a grassroots internal marketing awareness campaign through word of mouth and water cooler gossip.

Obstacles

With any project and more specifically when implementing disruptive marketing programs you will have obstacles. Besides the typical, finance, contracts, legal obstacles there is sure to be political obstacles that someone will raise. Politics usually arise when people who aren’t stakeholders, aren’t informed, aren’t educated but may be impacted by the project process. Keeping good transparent communication and some personal attention will help keep the team moving along.

One of the tactics I have used is keeping all project details open to the public so anyone can see what is occurring at anytime. It helps to have a communicate collaboration platform like Jive Software where you can post, manage and keep the team updated with a single portal.

Agencies can add value to any project but there ultimately needs to be a leader of the overall program to address and manage the above items that they can’t. And that leader is you.

I’ll be sharing more details about these topics at the Argyle Customer Care Executive Forum NYC Nov 5th. If you are interested in hearing more register via the link and I’ll see you there.