The U.S. video game industry had an estimated revenue of $97 billion in 2022, Statista reported, and the market is expected to continue growing. Small businesses can learn a lot from the gaming sector. Below, we cover four successful gaming industry tactics that small and midsize businesses can use.
To boost brand awareness, generate more sales and build customer loyalty, consider incorporating one or more of the following techniques into your company’s marketing mix.
Video games are immersive and highly interactive, and they engage users in a visual and auditory way. The audience is involved in the story from the start.
Just like the gaming industry, businesses can use storytelling to involve consumers in their brand story. This isn’t new to marketing; it’s a common practice to use stories to sell products that might otherwise disappear in a sea of competitors.
For example, Dove’s storytelling has taken its moisturizing soap above and beyond a generic cosmetic product. The well-received and evocative “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign helped portray Dove as a high-quality brand that questions the traditional beauty standards that have been applied to women.
Stories have the power to engage and educate people. When you’re thinking of a story, put yourself in customers’ shoes and imagine the role your product or service could play in their lives. [Read related article: A Guide to Creating a Customer Journey Map for Your Brand]
Build a story that engages people’s senses, embodies their values and builds an emotional connection. This doesn’t necessarily mean keeping your story serious; humorous, poignant or fun stories work well. Think of the Red Bull Stratos ad showing Felix Baumgartner’s 125,000-foot plunge to Earth, or Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad series.
Creating stories helps you come up with creative advertising concepts while conveying information. You can use these stories to breathe life into your brand from the customer’s point of view.
Many great video games take years to develop and perfect. Even then, it’s normal and expected for glitches and other problems to arise. Developers work hard to listen to the feedback from the gaming community and to improve games with patches.
This is a great example for businesses to follow, for several reasons. First, it’s important to keep testing and finding mistakes. You should also listen to your audience’s feedback by using social media listening tools and by sending surveys and feedback forms.
Another example is when WordPress updated its core software by creating the Gutenberg block editor. This change affected millions of sites and businesses, and users needed to ensure that everything functioned as usual. Tutorial sites for WordPress also had to go back and change hundreds of pages or create new ones.
Your marketing strategies, especially for content marketing, should be ongoing. It’s important to track your old blog posts and pages and to make sure you update and repurpose existing content and images.
If your company does business with European Union countries or citizens, you must comply with the GDPR, which governs which data you’re allowed to keep, how you can use it and where you must store it.
While the games themselves form the core of the gaming industry, there’s another element that makes gaming incredibly engaging: the community.
Games can be compelling and complex enough that they naturally lead to discussions online. Gaming platforms also support discussions and the sharing of images, videos and text via forums. This sense of community is another reason gaming works as well as it does; it helps connect millions of people around the world.
Businesses can also benefit from creating communities around their brand. Large businesses such as Lego, Starbucks, Nike and many more already have enthusiastic brand communities that the companies actively engage.
Here are a couple of the advantages of building an online community:
There are several ways you can start building your brand community. It helps to start early, since it can be a long process. Here are a few practical ways to build a thriving community:
Remember that regardless of whether you actively build a community, a discussion will happen about your business online. Instead, be proactive, get involved and guide your community’s growth by engaging with people.
At the heart of video game marketing is a system of goals and rewards. This creates a feedback loop in which users return to gaming as a way to relieve stress and to experience the dopamine hit that comes from achieving a gaming goal.
This system is called gamification, and it’s a way to reward users for carrying out actions you want them to — for example, subscribing to your blog, sharing content on social media, or buying your product. Customer loyalty programs are a common example of gamification. Brands such as Sephora, Starbucks and many others give users points, badges and other rewards for buying from them.
You can offer something similar by creating points that are redeemable on future purchases. Another simple way to add gamification is by adding a pop-up form where users can “spin” an online wheel that lands on a prize. They can then access the prize, like a discount or free trial, by adding their email address.
Gamification is a proven and effective way to achieve your marketing goals. Look for inspiration from video games to improve your audience’s engagement with your brand.
Many companies now use gamification to improve staff productivity. For example, in our review of Five9 call center software, we explore how users can choose their own avatars to compete for prizes while seeing how other team members are doing.
The gaming industry offers many lessons that businesses in any sector can apply to their marketing efforts. By engaging your customers through interactive storytelling, building an active community, creating customer loyalty programs, and ensuring your brand and content remain relevant, you’ll be taking steps to improve your marketing and ultimately grow your business.
Mark Fairlie contributed to this article.