Engagement with customers is the Holy Grail pursued by marketers today. Awareness is not enough- quality interactions have gained favor over exposure and repetition as goals of marketing communications. Understanding this trend is easy; how to make customer engagement happen is much more elusive. How can people be persuaded to invest time and interest in your brand?
One solution to the engagement challenge is prediction. No, not marketers predicting buyer behavior using sophisticated modeling techniques. I mean consumers predicting future outcomes, doing it in the form of games. An example of the harnessing the power of prediction as an engagement tool can be found in a game being tested by The Tennessean, a Gannett newspaper. Nashville-based Consensus Point developed Football Futures, a stock market-style game in which players predict outcomes of future events and buy units (with points, not money) based on their level of confidence that the event will occur as predicted.
The goal of Football Futures is to amass points to maximize net worth with the potential to win prizes. Whether it is whether LSU or Alabama will win the BCS Championship Game, Norv Turner will be fired as head coach of the San Diego Chargers, or Tim Tebow will win more games as a starting QB than Cam Newton, Football Futures enables players to express their views and potentially parlay their opinions into prizes.
If there is one thing for which there is no shortage where sports are concerned, it is opinions about what should or will happen. Football Futures gives players an outlet to have a voice in the discussions that surround sporting events and stories. More importantly for The Tennessean, it draws people to its website and encourages them to spend time engaged with the site. The possibilities for using prediction-style games to engage consumers seem limitless. Politics, popular culture, and other sports are obvious prospects for themes for other games like Football Futures down the road.
Engagement does not occur because a marketer wishes it; people must be willing to commit to interaction. What better way to invite engagement than to ask the simple question “What do you think?” As we move toward the fresh start of a new year, it is a timely reminder that marketing relationships must be customer-centered. The voice of the customer must be heard, and it is up to marketers to provide platforms for making it possible.