I dropped into QuakeCon 2010 last week, and was amazed at the marketing genius displayed by the gaming industry. My husband used to attend the mega-LAN party annually in high school and college, and I would visit and take in the vendor booths and case modifications. However, those past years had nothing on what I saw this past weekend! The conference took over several ballrooms, with one entirely dedicated to industry booths that housed game consoles, advertised a new gamer-friendly mouse, show-cased cars, and had platforms with announcers tossing free swag into the air every 5 minutes. In the adjacent room, thousands of computers and gamers occupied a darkened BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer). So why the Marketing genius? Let’s take a look:
In the middle of their target market. If you could bring thousands of your target market together and give them the opportunity to try your latest products, wouldn’t you? These conferences are sponsored by big names in the gaming industry, providing a free experience to thousands of their customers. They use their booths outfitted with the latest game consoles and software to whet their customers’ appetites for the next best thing. Better still, they give customers the opportunity to order new products on the spot with a conference discount included. They have achieved the illusive “opt-in” from their customers, allowing them to bombard their target market with welcomed ads and messaging. How often do you get customers EXCITED to see your sales pitch? It’s a marketer’s dream!
Reaching tomorrow’s market. QuakeCon has moved beyond just hard-core gamers, attracting the mainstream population with the promise of freebies, cool graphics, and interesting computers. I saw lots of families walking around the conference, with parents toting their 2 year old kids around the booths. Talk about fostering relationships with your next generation of customers! These kids are seeing your product and company message with parent approval from a young age, prompting them to start wanting your product much earlier. We didn’t get into video games until well into elementary school, but the digital age has brought toddlers into the market. While the toddlers may be a little young for your product right now, you can bet that the early exposure will turn them into buyers in the near future.
Group Think Rules. When you amass 3,000 members of your target market, give them the latest industry toys, and tell them to have fun for the next 3 days, group think abounds. Members see the best graphics, the coolest cases, the sharpest monitors… and they want more! These sponsors have brought in some of the best gamers in the world to demo their latest products, and their target audience shifts focus as a whole unit. When they see their idols using sponsors’ products in person, the excitement for the sponsor grows. Couple this excitement with the ease of communication via Twitter, Facebook and gaming forums, and you’ve got droves of customers thinking that you’ve got the best product out there. How often can you get a substantial portion of your target market to agree that you’re awesome? How often can you get them to run to all their friends and tell them to come NOW to buy your product? Again, a marketer’s dream!
While I’m not a gamer, I can appreciate the QuakeCon experience. Moreover, I can commend the organizers on a well-executed event that continues to offer companies a prime outlet to connect with their customers.