Keep your gamification promos simple and straightforward


The game is afoot.

Gamification is one of the hip-happenin' concepts today as it applies to behavioral econimics and getting folks to adopt software applications, services and just about anything. It takes advantage of our competitive nature and our sometimes insatiable need to be rewarded.

Badges, points, miles, vacations, gadgets, toys, candy, flowers, music, money -- the game is afoot indeed. Promotionally speaking, that is.

Which is why marketing promotions and their giveaways can be so powerful. Not always mind you, but they can be, if they're simple and straightforward.

You may have heard of the gambler's fallacy, the fact that if I toss a coin 10 times in the air and it lands on heads, I may incorrectly think that the next toss will have to come up tails. But the odds are the same either way no matter what.

This is what keeps us finding our gaming heads "back in Vegas with a handle in your hand" (thank you, Steely Dan), and why lotteries have become as big and powerful as they have, and why "bingo parlors" are the second oldest profession of all time (wink).

Somebody wins, but most of us lose, and mercy do we like to play the game. Especially live and in person. Since the fall HR B2B marketplace conference season is about to begin, I think it's important for companies on the hunt for visibility and leads to keep their gaming promtions simple and straightforward:

Stick with what works -- bingo. I've seen attendees dash excitedly from one exhibit hall booth to another to get their bingo cards filled in order to win a prize.

Wheels of fortune. How much simpler can you get? Paste prizes on the wheel and let people spin and salivate.

Brain teasers, quizzes and trivia. "Don't make it New York Time Crossword" difficult, but make your brain teasers challenging enough so not everybody wins the big prize. This isn't the Gen Y school of "Why I'm the mostest special" (I know, that may get some calls).

Scavenger hunts of mystery and intrigue. Make it light-hearted, fun and accessible to all parties, but don't over-complicate with WWII Navajo code talkers and secret decoder rings. And make sure it can be accomplished in a reasonable timeframe.

The prizes and tchotchkes you give away are another subject entirely, so make sure they're not brand damaging pieces of junk.

However, if you're ever giving away a vintage Star Wars pinball machine, I'm game.

Star wars


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