Gamification & Loyalty – Peanut Butter & Chocolate
We recently announced a , a leader in the consumer loyalty, channel partner and employee incentive space. With 3,300 employees, $1.43 billion in revenue in 2009, and 30 of the world’s FORTUNE 50 companies as customers, Maritz is a big company, with a big footprint, and a lot of smart, passionate, and incredibly nice people. We feel privileged to have them as a partner.
Our first exposure to the loyalty industry was in early 2009, when a large media company that we’d pitched gamification to many times asked us to fill out an RFP for the new loyalty program they were creating. They had always had an indirect relationship with their users - via theater chains and big box retailers, and wanted to establish a direct relationship. So they created an RFP for their loyalty program and sent it out to many of the established players in the loyalty industry. And us. We knew nothing about the loyalty space, and looking at the RFP, there were huge chunks of functionality that we just didn’t do - our focus was rewarding online activity, not running airline, hotel or grocery loyalty programs. But we filled it out nonetheless.
Much to our surprise, we ended up being selected to run the program - primarily because this particular media company was very forward thinking, and realized that loyalty isn’t just about how many dollars people spend with you, it’s also about all their interactions with you - watching your trailers, playing your games, sharing your content to the social networks, posting to your forums, rating your content, and more. And they wanted a platform that would enable them to track those interactions, and reward them with a non-dollar-value currency. That’s what our Nitro platform did, so it was a perfect fit. They referred to us as Loyalty 2.0. We didn’t know anything about Loyalty 1.0, but we believed them :)
Fast forward to August 2009. The media company has just recently gone live with version 1.0 of their program, and I decide that I need to learn more about the loyalty industry. I’m visiting my in-laws in Bentonville, Arkansas, it’s 2am, everyone else is asleep, and I’m surfing the web trying to learn about loyalty. I’m looking at conferences, searching to see if anyone in the industry is talking about game mechanics, surfing through LinkedIn, etc. and I come across this guy named Barry Kirk, who worked for a company called Maritz and who had apparently given a talk called “The Gamification of Loyalty” at the 2009 Loyalty Expo (see page 6 for a description of his talk). And it turned out that they had recorded it, and were going to be doing a rebroadcast of it later that week. I attended the webcast and was blown away. Barry was singing our exact tune, just in the loyalty industry!
I had no way of contacting Barry, except that at the end of the webcast he’d included his Twitter handle. So I sent him a DM saying “Just watched your webinar - we’re on the same wavelengths for both the game mechanics and engagement scoring. Call me! XXX-XXX-XXXX”. (Twitter spam FTW!) Barry did get back to me, and 1 year and 20 days later, after many calls, demos and meetings, we had a signed partnership agreement. It took a bit longer than either of us anticipated, but the wait has been worth it. We’re currently working together with Maritz on consumer loyalty programs, channel sales programs, employee recognition programs, and more - combining loyalty and gamification to create something compelling, new and delicious.