Gaming the System

Doubt that gaming is becoming a core marketing strategy? This New York Times article about the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia might challenge your mindset.

Gaming is not a new tool in the military's recruitment approach. Along with several corporations and a few nonprofits, the military has used video games the past few years to market their opportunities and appeal to a younger generation.

But as noted in The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, success requires moving from goods and commodities to complete experiences.
“An experience occurs when a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event.”
A video game is just a good, but the new Army Experience Center is a $13 million dollar arcade according to the Times article. Some key facts:
  • The Experience Center replaced five smaller recruitment stations, but costs approximately the same. By concentrating resources in one venue, recruiters can offer a more compelling experience.
  • Philadelphia has been one of the more challenging areas for recruitment, so trying something very different here might seem less risky.
  • Urban centers often don't have as strong a military presence, so the Center is an effective venue for sharing the Army's story overall regardless of visitors' interest in enlisting.
  • The staff—both military and civilians— wear casual clothes to appear more approachable and less "hard sell."
  • Three simulators engage participants in completing humanitarian missions, appealing to individuals' sense of being a part of something bigger than themselves.
  • An informational kiosk describes more than 175 jobs available in the Army, promoting the fact that not all positions are combat roles.
It's too early to tell if the Center will produce the necessary recruitment numbers in the long-run, but the Army's approach provides a good example of tactics all organizations could experiment with: combining distributed resources to create a more compelling experience, providing engaging information and nonthreatening interactions to broaden others' knowledge of your story, using games and simulations to give people a sampling of what things actually might be like, appealing to individual's higher purpose and not just self-interest, and experimenting with new strategies in underperforming locations where standard approaches are not working.

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Emre said...
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