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5 Completely Surprising Marketing Tips Learned from Fifth Graders

January 21, 2014

fifth grade classroom

Photo source: User Michael 1952 on flickr.

This post was originally published on the DNN Software blog.

Recently, I served as “teacher for the day” in my daughter’s fifth grade classroom. My guest appearance was coordinated by a great organization, Junior Achievement, who “teaches young people about money management and how business works.”

With a lesson plan provided by Junior Achievement, I taught five, 45-minute lessons on topics related to business and entrepreneurship. I know about raising fifth graders from the one I have at home, but spending a day with a class full of them gave me further insights on their attitudes and inclinations.

Before long, these fifth grade students will grow up and become part of the target audience for your marketing. Here are five surprising marketing tips based on my observations.

1) Forget about social media marketing.

I asked students to name examples of businesses. Here’s the list compiled by this Silicon Valley-based class:

social media top of mind with fifth graders

Perhaps they were too young to name Snapchat? The point is, fifth graders are on the bleeding edge of technology. They used iPods as toddlers, then graduated to iPads. They may not be using Facebook, but their siblings and parents are. So they’re aware of what it is and what it does.

That being said, forget about the social media marketing you’re doing today to reach their parents. Once these kids enter the workforce, social marketing will no longer be relevant, because another form of advertising will have emerged.

2) Invest in billboard advertising.

T-rex billboard ad

Photo source: Eric Fischer on flickr.

We did a lesson on advertising. The fifth graders were given a business scenario and asked to work in teams to devise a business, then create an advertisement for that business. Before they started designing, they were asked to name examples of advertising.

Many of the students mentioned billboard ads that they see on Highway 101 in the Bay Area. They were able to recall the messaging contained on those billboards in impressive detail. Out-of-home advertising works! It’s effective because of the captivated audience it commands. So as these fifth graders grow into adults, think of ways your own marketing content can be delivered to a captivated audience.

3) Decrease your online marketing budget.

If you think about standing up in front of a fifth grade classroom for an entire day, it can be worrisome: will the students have any interest in what I’m saying? To be honest, I noticed that some of them “tuned out” during segments of the lessons.

But what got them to pay attention, engage and interact? Activities. The Junior Achievement lesson plans pair verbal instruction with a fun activity that reinforces that instruction.

Online marketing is great. It’s cost effective and it’s measurable. But to make a deeper connection with your  marketing, consider programs that include face-to-face interactions. The fifth graders are kind of expecting it.

4) Tomorrow’s workers won’t be motivated by gamification.

Many of the day’s activities came in the form of games. The fifth graders would high-five each other when they rolled a six, but what got them most excited were forms of peer-to-peer connections and recognition.

WHITE PAPER: How Community Managers Can Use Gamification to Create Sustainable Engagement

We did an exercise in which two students were named partners in a popcorn and ice cream business. The two partners stood at the front of the classroom. Next, they called up classmates (one by one), assigning them to assorted roles within the business (delivery people, business analysts, attorneys and ultimately, a CEO).

Students were most excited when they were called up to the front of the room. The selection and “job assignment” (in front of the entire class) gave meaning to the activity. It made them feel rewarded. How do you “gamify” experiences for tomorrow’s workers? Make it less about points and badges and more about peer-to-peer relationships and recognition.

5) Make them wait for it.

child using tablet

Photo source: User nooccar on flickr.

Today’s generation of kids live in a world of instant gratification. With timeshifting and on-demand consumption, they get what they want, when they want it. Remember how Thursday nights on NBC were called “Must See TV?” Today’s generation calls it “I See TV” (“When I Want It”).

So first, make your product, content and experiences great. Then, act differently with it. Don’t give it to them right away. Make them wait. Make them go through hoops to get it. Why? Because when they do, they’ll cherish it. They’re so used to getting everything right away, that making them wait adds to the enjoyment.

Conclusion

Today’s fifth graders are tomorrow’s customers. While I enjoyed my time in the classroom, I also considered it a form of market research, in better understanding tomorrow’s buyers. Hopefully, I learned from them as much as they learned from me. And, I hope this post served to spur forward-looking thoughts on how to do marketing in the future.

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Favorite Book Quotes from “Reality Is Broken”

August 31, 2011

Note: Image courtesy of the book’s web site.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to the book’s listing on Amazon.com.

Introduction

I’m reading Jane McGonigal’s book “Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.” The book has three parts:

  1. Why Games Make Us Happy
  2. Reinventing Reality
  3. How Very Big Games Can Change the World

As of August 31, 2011, I’m reading part one, which provides a fascinating look at the psychology behind games (i.e. the neurological factors behind why gamers engage in game play).

I’m continually finding great quotes in the book, so I thought I’d use this blog posting to keep a running collection of my favorites. Feel free to check back from time to time, as I add to the list!

Favorite Quotes

Added: 10/03/2011

Life is hard, and games make it better.” (page 349)

Added: 09/29/2011

We need to play games that stretch our collective commitment months, years or even decades ahead. We need to start playing with the future.” (page 295)

Added: 09/27/2011

Collaboration isn’t just about achieving a goal or joining forces; it’s about creating something together that would be impossible to create alone.” (page 268)

Added: 09/10/2011

Based on Clay Shirky’s estimate that all of Wikipedia took 100 million hours to create, the WoW community alone could conceivably create a new Wikipedia every three and a half days.” (page 231)

Added: 09/05/2011

Games are showing us exactly what we want out of life: more satisfying work, better hope of success, stronger social connectivity, and the chance to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.” (page 114)

Compared with games, reality is hard to get into. Games motivate us to participate more fully in whatever we’re doing.” (page 124)

Added: 09/04/2011

The single best way to add meaning to our lives is to connect our daily actions to something bigger than ourselves – and the bigger, the better.” (page 97)

Added: 08/31/2011

To develop foresight, you need to practice hindsight.” (page 5)

As for the future, your task is not to see it, but to enable it.” (page 13, attributed to Antoine de Saint Exupery)

Games, in the twenty-first century, will be a primary platform for enabling the future.” (page 13)

Computers were made to work for us, but video games have come to demand that we work for them.” (page 55)

The quote (above) is attributed to Nick Yee, “a leading researcher of MMOs and the first person to receive a PhD for studying WoW.”

Leave a Comment

Have you read the book? If so, let me know your take via the comments section below.

Related Resources

  1. Buy the Book: On Amazon.

Adding Game Mechanics to Your Event

May 27, 2011

Pictured: A game card employed at an elementary school science fair.

Introduction

I recently attended my child’s elementary school science fair and was intrigued to find game mechanics employed by the fair’s planners. The fair had several rows of “exhibits” (students’ science projects) and a number of students were seen walking studiously from project to project, with a rectangular slip of paper. It turns out the paper was a game card (pictured above), with a list of projects that students needed to find (and check off the list).

The Challenge and Completion Dynamics

I was struck by how many students were participating in the “game,” all under the premise of “you will get a prize if you are a lucky winner.” Adoption was strong because it tapped into a challenge dynamic. Kids were presented with a challenge (“go find these exhibits”). And importantly, there was a structure behind the challenge: the completion dynamic (“find all of the exhibits, then return the card to a volunteer”).

Since a completed card merely got a student a raffle ticket (after which they’d need to hold a winning ticket to gain a prize), motivation was driven by the challenge dynamic – something to keep in mind as it relates to B2B events (i.e. understanding and taking advantage of attendees’ motivations, rather than simply offering up iPads as prizes).

Pros and Cons

Pros: Participants in the game reviewed many more projects than they otherwise would have. Case in point: some students who did not play the game could be found lounging outside the fair, socializing on the patio.

Cons: More a consideration than a negative – game designers need to understand the “completion dynamics.” For the science fair, it’s a good thing for game players to visit many exhibits. The ideal visit is one where the visitor reads through the science project and gains an appreciation for the hypothesis and the result.

The non-optimal visit is the “drive by,” where the visitor is purely motivated by finding another item to check off the list. Good game design will motivate players to immerse themselves in the game, rather than play the game solely to achieve the end result.

How this Applies to Physical & Virtual Events

  1. Motivating participation: when incorporating game mechanics, discover ways to encourage participation beyond the prize.
  2. Contextual relevance: connect the game activities directly to the event content. The science fair did this perfectly.
  3. Encourage immersion and enjoyment: participation needs to go “beyond the result” – participants need to place a higher value on the activity (itself) over the achievement of status or completion.

Related

Pictured: a kid-themed scavenger hunt provided by the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, CA.

 


Gamification Predictions for 2011

December 22, 2010

Introduction

At Mashable, Gabe Zichermann (@gzicherm) provided his 5 Predictions for Game Mechanics in 2011.  Gabe’s article inspired me to provide my own predictions.

A New Name in 2011

In the second half of 2010, the term “gamification” became bi-polar: you either loved it or hated it.  People on the “love” side see it as the future of engagement and marketing.  People on the “hate” side see it as a gimmick.

Gabe provides his thoughts in an article at Huffington Post.  While the term is effective in capturing the essence, it’s not perfect.  As a result, “gamification” will be used less and less in 2011.  In its place will be a set of new terms, based on its specific applications (e.g. game-based marketing, game-based social initiatives, etc.).

A Sub-Industry Develops


This is more an observation, rather than a prediction (since it’s already happening): an industry has developed around “gamification”.  When folks convene for a conference or summit, that’s my measuring stick to tell me that an industry is emerging.  In the virtual events space, that happened in 2009 with the Virtual Edge Summit (which, by the way, has its third annual conference, also in January 2011).

If you look at the sponsor and speaker lists for this event, you’ll see a number of start-ups who built their business around gamification.  In 2011, we’ll see some “bubble like” behavior (perhaps we’re already seeing it now), where entrepreneurs look to build the next great gamification companies.  In the second half of 2011, however, the bubble settles and the early winners emerge.

Related: Gamification gets its own conference (VentureBeat)

Game Mechanics for The Greater Good

Jane McGonigal of Palo Alto-based Institute for the Future once said, “Any time I consider a new project, I ask myself, is this pushing the state of gaming toward Nobel Prizes? If it’s not, then it’s not doing anything important enough to spend my time.” (source: Salon.com article from 2007).

In 2011, we’ll see game mechanics applied increasingly to the “greater good” – initiatives that can change the world.

Armchair Revolutionary is a great example – consider one of their slogans, “shape the future by playing a game”.  In 2011, lots of “revolutionaries” emerge to rally those who can, to provide help to those in need.

Game Mechanics Go Mainstream – But Consumers Don’t Know It

Game mechanics are going mainstream, but the typical user won’t know that they’re participating in them.  They simply know that they’re engaging in enjoyable activities (side note: there will be similar growth in Foursquare, Gowalla, etc., but users, of course, won’t know that they’re using “location based services”).

For example, Universal Studios announced successful sales of their “Despicable Me” DVD – their press release attributes some of the success to a “Minions Madness” promotion, “a points-based reward and social media program spotlighting the film’s beloved mischief-makers, the Minions.” This promotion was powered by Bunchball, a game mechanics start-up.

Bunchball (and related companies) has built a nice client list of broadcast networks, cable networks and film studios.  In 2011, additional media outlets come on board.  Game mechanics  go more and more mainstream, even though the typical mainstream user doesn’t know it.  Watch out in 2012, however, as consumer-based game mechanics suffer some fatigue (as consumers then see “much too much” of it).

Established Web Players Incorporate Game Mechanics

2011 sees established players incorporate game mechanics to increase engagement (e.g. “time on site”, clicks, e-commerce sales, etc.).

Google adopts game mechanics as a means for bridging their search business and social services (e.g. adding game mechanics to Google Me). Others who add game mechanics include Netflix, eBay and Groupon.  Of course, it’s natural to expect that more and more virtual event experiences will add game mechanics, too.

Conclusion

2010 has been an interesting year for gamification. 2011 will kick off with an industry event and where we go from there will be exciting to watch.  I’ll check back mid-year with a report card on these predictions. Here’s hoping I attain the “crystal ball badge”.


It’s All Virtual Turns Two

December 12, 2010

“Time flies when you’re having fun.”

It all started two years ago today.  The first blog post was made on December 12, 2008.  Since that time, I’ve covered virtual trade shows, hybrid events, virtual worlds, Second Life, social media and many other topics.  It’s been a fun ride to date, but I’m even more excited about what the next 2 or 5 years will bring.  For now, let’s take a look back at five selected posts from the past two years.

What Started It All


My first post, from December 2008, looked ahead to 2009.  It was titled “2009: The Year We Go Virtual“.  I was mostly on target with this post, except for that innocent comment where I noted that face-to-face event producers would struggle to survive.  I should have known that physical events would never go away – and, I hadn’t considered what would follow in 2009/2010, the hybrid event.  Whoops.

Lenovo’s 3D World, Powered by web.alive


This posting, from January 2009, remains today the top grossing piece on this blog.  Lenovo launched a 3D world to promote their Thinkpad notebooks.  It used the web.alive 3D platform from Nortel (and is now part of Avaya, via Avaya’s acquisition of Nortel).  While touring the environment, I met Nic Sauriol, the Venture Lead for the project and he took  me on a personal tour.  Read more: “Review: Lenovo’s eLounge Virtual World“.

Musings on Physical Events & Virtual Events

(Photo courtesy of “ExhibitPeople” on flickr)

Physical events have been around for a long time.  So I decided to write about what we like at physical events and consider how those “features” could work in a virtual event.  I didn’t expect it at the time, but this turned out to be one of the most popular postings this year.  For more: “Bringing The Physical Event Experience To Virtual Events“.

Whose Platform Do I Use?

Once you’ve decided to do a virtual event, one of the key steps is finding the right virtual event platform.  In my Virtual Events 101 series, the most popular posting was this one: “Virtual Events 101: Tips For Selecting A Virtual Event Platform“.  For me, it comes down to the 6 P”s – People, Platform, Production, Price, Process and Partners.

Branching Out A Bit

Branching out from virtual events, I shared some thoughts on the topics of social gaming, location-based services, “gamification” and loyalty programs.  In the coming 1-3 years, gamification, location services and virtual events will come together (via API’s and integration).  On the gamification front, it’s noteworthy that San Francisco will be home to the Gamification Summit in January 2011.  For the full post: “The Name Of The Game Is Engagement“.

Conclusion

It’s been a great two years.  It’s hard to imagine what the (virtual) “world” will look like in another two years.  There’s one thing for sure: I’ll be blogging about it.  Come along for the journey and subscribe to regularly receive my posts.  Until next time!


With Virtual Events, You’ve Got Game

September 20, 2010

On the INXPO blog, we write about virtual events and virtual business environments.  I wrote a posting about gamifying your next virtual event.  The benefits of adding a game element to your event:

  1. Games are Participatory
  2. Games Create Competition & Networking
  3. Games Foster Elevated Retention

I then provided some strategic advice for virtual event gaming:

  1. Content Must Be Contextual
  2. The Game “Layer” Should Be “Thin”
  3. Benefit of Teams

Do you got game? Read the full posting:

INXPO: Gamify Your Next Virtual Event


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