Todd Young
Todd Young
Jason Edwards
Jason Edwards

For centuries, games have been a paramount element of society. Now, marketers have found a way to harness the power of games to change the way businesses engage with customers. Gamification is the application of game intelligence and mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users.

Hoping to capitalize on the more than 183 million active gamers in the U.S., two Valley business owners are utilizing gamification to create a marketing niche. Fiero Agency, founded this year by Todd Young and Jason Edwards, specializes in gamified marketing. They create unique interactive marketing campaigns that motivate consumers to be engaged. Gamified marketing includes mechanics such as points, badges and leaderboards.

Young believes gamification’s effectiveness is rooted in psychology. “People seek out games for the same reason they seek out coffee: to feel different after,” he said. “It’s a place to get your fix.”

According to Young, feelings necessary to human condition can be supplied by games: socialization, purpose and achievement. Gamification allows people to be marketed to without necessarily realizing it because the game provides entertainment.

It seems to be working because gamification is becoming a more mainstream marketing tool. Gartner Inc., an information and technology research and advisory firm, predicts more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one “gamified” application in 2014.

Young and Edwards attribute the trend to the popularity of video games. A gamified marketing strategy is comprised of three key elements: personalization, rewards and pride. Games allow users to choose what they want and provide the opportunity to win rewards. Additionally, users have pride in their success by sharing their achievements on social media. A gamified marketing strategy unifies these three elements to guide the user to have enthusiasm to purchase.

Fiero’s creative process is solution based. First, Young and Edwards define success for their campaign. Each campaign has its own characteristics of success. Success could be defined by getting more customers, expanding market share or increasing consumption of a product. Once success is defined, a solution or game is made.

Fiero’s creative process is a hybrid between the traditional “white board” marketing strategy and the gaming tactical approach. According to Young, the game strategy is about how to make it more interesting every time.

“(The game needs to) legitimately create a compulsion or a new habit,” Young said.

The implementation of the proper elements of a game for the appropriate demographic or product is also key. Not every game component pertains to every campaign. Games geared toward a younger demographic might include more of a story line, while games for older demographics may include scaled down visual and audio. Game mechanics need to correlate with the product being marketed.

Fiero’s gamified marketing is not exclusively digital. Fiero applies traditional marketing strategies to game design, branding, content creation and animation. Then, cross platforms are used for campaigns to apply the game intelligence to a variety of mediums. The mediums include web development, applications for smart phones and tablets and video production. The formula is working. Even though Fiero is a relatively new agency, created successful gamification campaigns for clients including Coca-Cola, TimeWarner and Microsoft.