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How Gamification (And Candy) Made A “Boring” B2B Marketing Topic Fun

Mon, Mar 14, 2016 @ 1:04 PM Add Comment

Gamification in Marketing

By Rachel O’Neill (Senior Account Executive)

There is a lot of talk within the industry about how to engage customers of less exciting – some may dare say “boring” – industries.

(We’ve posted about it here, here and here.)

If you do a quick Google search, everyone says “bring your products to life”. Okay, sounds easy, right? But, what does that really mean?

There are many different ways to make products such as life insurance and retirement solutions more relatable. Read: humor, emotion and fun – you’ve heard of a little brand named GEICO, right? They’re kind of good at the humor and fun part.

It may seem a bit easier with B2C clients and branding initiatives, but what about B2B? How do you engage a financial advisor (we call them FAs) on that same level when talking about something like a new long-term care (LTC) insurance product?

We recently had the opportunity to figure out how to do this for our client, Nationwide, and we all ended up having a lot of fun. We also ended up with a lot of belly aches – but more on that later.

Gamification. The word alone can make any B2B marketer run screaming.

GamificationWhy would anyone invest in a game when the target is supposed to be working? Isn’t it expensive? Do we have a developer who can do that?

The definition of Gamification, according to our pal Google: “the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.”

Nowhere in the above does it say: “making a game is really hard and expensive”.

We don’t need to be EA Sports level game makers – we are not creating the next Madden NFL video game. We’re just trying to let people have fun while engaging with a product!

Gamification isn’t just a little “trend” either – data from customers using Oracle Social Marketing Games Cloud Service shows that brand engagement (time spent on a page) increases tenfold on the launch of a social game. And, the gamification market is predicted to surpass $10 billion by 2020.

So, as you can guess, we created a game!

It was a game for FAs to learn more about a new and improved long-term care insurance product. Doesn’t exactly sound like something that goes with long-term care insurance, does it?

It also gave them the opportunity to eat jelly beans, go up against fellow advisors and spend about 5 minutes in their day having a good time in-between meetings.

Nationwide Jellybean Game

It wasn’t all about making a game, though. It was about creating an experience that allowed FAs to have some fun with a topic that is not that exciting: long-term care.

We had some things we needed to do, too. We really wanted to incite trial of Nationwide’s online LTC tool, because we found that once this tool was tried, the FA was a lot more likely to see the value in the product and recommend it to clients. Imagine that – seeing is believing!

We engaged them in three pretty simple, yet effective, steps.

Nationwide Jelly Bean Game1. Sent them a direct mail piece with a sampling of mystery jelly bean flavors and invited them to play the “Guess MORE Flavors Challenge” via their own pURL (personal URL).

2. Created a fun, yet very simple, online game. Asked them to guess the jelly bean flavor that matched the beans they received in the mail. Allowed them to compete with their peers in guessing correctly – we know FAs are really competitive, and being right is so satisfying! Drove them to our very important online tool.

3. Sent follow up emails based on actions they took (or didn’t take). Reminded them to play the game if they hadn’t, or reminded them about our really important online tool if they had not used it yet.

Beyond the fact that the team working on this ate about 20 pound of jelly beans – there are those stomach aches I was talking about – we were able to create an extremely engaging and successful campaign about a not so “fun” topic.

People love knowing what types of mystery food they are eating! We can attest – we all lived by the back of the jelly bean bag while “researching” for this campaign.

We were able to come up with a strategy that tied together fun and work for our FA target, and they really appreciated the experience. Turns out, allowing them to have fun and learn about something that could help them and their clients was a win/win for Nationwide.

In conclusion…

The takeaways here are that something that seems “boring” on the surface may not be boring. And something like gamification doesn’t have to be a daunting undertaking. Simplicity is key when trying to engage an audience. Also, giving them candy… People love candy.

Jelly Bean

On a personal note, jelly beans now follow me everywhere I go. Between team members dressing up like a bag of jelly beans and just so happening to park next to the jelly bean mobile – I will never escape jelly beans, and I’m okay with that!

CONSIDER ALSO READING – To Fun, Or Not To Fun: That Is The Question

B2B marketing financial advisors gamification jelly beans long-term care insurance Nationwide Insurance online games Rachel O'Neill
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