Oh the inalienable right to win!
Competition is a sure-fire way to up the ante on human interaction and drive people to passionate, even insane behavior.
In a recent post “For a Bit of Colored Ribbon , Jeff Atwood of Stack Exchange talked about his manic efforts to lower his energy consumption to beat the average on his energy assment report from Pacific Gas and Electric. Despite having taken many time and resource-intensive measures, his home remained at 33% above a “similar” home in the neighborhood.
He knows it’s all a game–and probably a fixed one at that–but he still can’t help but want to win.
How do business use this competitive drive to their advantage?
The Easy Way
We can choose to exploit customers by selling hype and meaningless points. We can create loyalty programs that do very little for the customer. We can force competition, fake scarcity (hurry, supplies won’t last), and create hype.
And it will work, because that is the norm.
It will keep customers running on your hamster wheel, but what it will not do is turn them into your best salesperson. When was the last time a friend told you that you should sign up for a loyalty program?
The Winning Way
Use these same tactics, but adapted to customer-centered marketing. Create programs and systems that generously reward your customers–it doesn’t always have to be money. Discounts are great. They move the meter on the “purchase now versus later” scale. But in almost every case, competition on price alone is a race to the bottom winnable only by the largest company with the widest selection and the highest negotiation power.
Here’s How to Play the Game
You and your customer are on the same team–a win for them is a win for you
Make the game fun–known rewards gives something to work towards
Make the game dynamic–unexpected rewards are even better
Don’t make up rules as you go along–unless those rules are a benefit to the customer
Photo Credits Man Crossing Finish Line Flickr User eagle102.net Rat in Hamster Wheel from MorgueFile