Adding a “Game Layer” to the World (and your business)

Classic Life Game BoxCould you make shopping your store more fun? Can shopping be turned into a game that actually gets your customers to want to spend more money and shop more at your location?

We got a look at how the world could be changed when Volkswagon launched their Fun Theory project. The idea behind it was could we take something that was a routine and boring, an experience that people avoided, and turn it into something people would enjoy doing. One of my favorite examples of what they did was they looked at a subway entrance/exit where most people were using the escalators instead of taking the stairs. Obviously, it is more cost effective if people take the stairs. Also, it can be a lot healthier for people. But taking the stairs requires work and so many people avoid it. Who knows why, but that is how they behave.

Volkswagon set out to find out if they could change people’s behavior. What’d they do? They turned the stairs into the keys of a working piano. Take a look at video from the experiment:

What do you think they are learning about people? More importantly, how might this apply to work and business?

Let’s start with a question about your team – what if you could increase team member loyalty simply by tweaking some of your procedures and routines? We operate in a business climate where our teams often lack inspiration and they are incredibly worried about their job security. The economy has people on edge. Now that might sound like it plays to your advantage. People are worried about their jobs and might be less likely to jump ship at the moment. But don’t fall for this illusion.

Sure, today’s economic situation might play to your advantage, but in the long term your team members will end up with the upper hand. The demographics are simple – we have way more people on the verge of retirement than people entering the workforce. This means that businesses will be fighting for talent in the future.

So what could you do to make work more fun and meaningful? Here are a few ideas to think about:

  • Create more levels of achievement. Don’t hire anyone and throw them into a high ranking position. Instead, set up a challenging set of progressions with clear tasks that have to be achieved in order to move forward.
  • Make a big deal out of milestones. I’m not suggesting that you spend a lot of money, but find ways to have a ton of fun when someone on your team achieves something special.
  • Create competitions. Build teams and then have them compete against one another. Now you don’t want to turn the competition into a negative. Have fun with it and celebrate the entire team’s efforts and success.
  • Learn to have fun. Relax and find ways to have fun with your time both while on and off the clock.

You know your business way better than I do. Take some time to think about what you could do to make it more fun for your team. Now, let’s look a at your customers for a minute.

We have a natural inclination to want to be better than others and if you can find a fun way to do this, you can increase loyalty among your shoppers. Think about Costco for a minute. They offer several membership levels that come with a variety of benefits. I know a lot of people who opt for the business membership that don’t even own their own business. Why are they willing to spend the few extra dollars? Sure they get a couple of extra privileges, but is getting access to a store an hour or two earlier than everyone else that important? I’d throw out to you that it doesn’t. What matters is that people want to feel special; they are looking for ways to be different and feel important.

What if you were able to set up a loyal system in your store where after customers have shopped with you for a period of time they earned the right to be a gold member. What would that mean to them? What benefits could you offer them? Could you figure out a simple way to do this that would not cost you a ton of money?

There are a number of interesting tools out there to help you add a game layer to your business. Have you heard of “location-based” apps? They are mobile phone apps that allow people to check in at a location and earn rewards over time. There are a variety of these apps on the market, including FourSquare and Facebook’s new Places feature. But none of these apps have tapped into the true potent of the “game layer.” They are good tools and if you are creative with them you can do some amazing things; however there is a great product out there called SCVNGR.

To learn more about SCVNGR, check out Seth Priebatsch’s presentation at TEDx, Founder of SCVNGR.

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