Let the games begin
Gamification is a term that has been around since 2002 when it was coined by British computer-programmer Nick Pelling. By the second half of 2010, it had built up enough traction to make it to the Google trends list and, in 2011, was runner up for “Word of the Year” by The Oxford Dictionary.
The word itself may not be on everyone’s lips, but the concept is. Think of the gold stars on Ebay, one of the first point systems to measure user status, or the running app Nike+, which helped increase Nike’s market share in the running shoe market by 14% in four years.
Gamification’s application is as broad as people’s imagination. In three weeks, the puzzle game Foldit led to a breakthrough in AIDS research by solving a problem that had stumped scientists for 15 years. Fundraising site CrowdRise has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for non-profits worldwide by turning charitable giving into a game. And, whatever you might think of it, Pókemon Go is getting people off the sofa and onto the streets.
So what is the allure? Simple human nature. If you want someone to do something, motivate them, keep it personal and make it fun. Gamifaction reaches people on a deep level by tapping into the human need for recognition, achievement and success.
Leading analyst firm Forrester Research reported the programmatic use of gamification as being key to accelerating targeted selling behaviors and brand sentiment. In partner relationship management, gamification can inspire channel partners to focus not only on sales, but also on team-oriented goals. It can keep them attentive to commitments, improve productivity and boost moral. It can also get channel partners to interact more regularly with the sales platform.
There is also a bottom-line advantage to gamification. Typical incentives such as market development funds, rebates and rewards are limited by the overall budget allotted for these activities. Not so with gamification. Gamification incentives can be clearly calculated by limiting the number of prizes to a definable number of top players. What’s more, the rewards of gamification do not have to be monetary. For instance, incentives can be in the form of emotional intangibles such as recognition, increased status, and encouragement.
Games have always played an important part in building relationships. As a complement to traditional incentives programs, gamification can establish unique goals and offer more personalized rewards. But in the channel marketing business, it isn’t possible without technology. A good partner relationship management program can make every step of the game affordable, accessible and personalized. Over the coming years, gamification is set to become a competitive differentiator among channel marketers. So let the games begin!