Aiming for gaming

Consider social and mobile yesterday’s news. The next big thing is gaming.

Maybe you’ve heard the hype about integrating gaming with communications efforts: in-game advertising, product placement, even custom-built games. But think beyond gaming as a marketing tactic. Think about gaming as an immersive learning experience for both audiences and marketers.

Most marketers have bought into the need to engage with the audiences they want to reach. Rather than talking to the marketplace, communicators understand the new imperative for two-way conversations. Social media channels like Facebook and Quora are where this model of communication plays out.

Similarly, games represent a different way of communicating. Immersive experiences, like those in-gaming applications, go beyond conversations and provide consumers a rich engagement with your product or service.

Gaming also gives marketers the ability to transform customer interaction with their brand from mere spectator sport to full contact sport. It’s the difference between learning by hearing versus learning by doing.

The next generation of your customers, whether business or consumer, have grown up with digital gaming. And they aren’t giving it up as adults. The average video game player is 35 years old and has been playing for 13 years, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

So how do you get your game on? Here’s a three-step approach that I’ve labeled AIM for short – audience, interaction and medium.

Always start with your audience. Are they participating in gaming at any level? Don’t just think about console games. They may be gaming through social media or mobile. And, they may be involved in professions that are beginning to use serious gaming for online training.

Next, look at your current brand interaction with your audience. Break down the brand experiences customers currently have with your brand. Consider customer service, events, retail, etc. What elements of those experiences can you translate into an immersive environment?

Finally, begin to learn all you can about the medium or rather the gaming channel as it exists today. Even if it’s likely your brand will be on the sidelines for a while, it’s never too early to begin to understand the game so that you’ll be ready when it’s your turn to play.