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Evolution of a Customer: High On ‘Game-I-Fiction’

People literally get “high” on games. Endorphins flow into the brain when you complete or win a silly game whether it comes free on your smartphone or involves $100 million in the lotto. Digital, video, casino, computer, TV – games are everywhere. Warcraft and Call of Duty sales surpass book sales around the globe. I used to get my thrills on a motocross track, not playing Flight Simulator and Scrabble. Jeez!

What gives?

The combination of an expanding Internet, proliferation of videos, invasive digital advertising and billions of techy mobile devices have drastically altered our shopping habits. Homo sapiens as a species is at a juncture never before approached. Even our physical stature is being evolutionarily altered to look down constantly while reading incoming emails, texts, social posts or interruptive notifications. Text Neck Overuse Syndrome (TNOS) is actually recognized in the medical journals now.

Our society is addicted and these new technology boundaries are treading over all our traditional family values… while you sneak-check your calendar at the dinner table. Those darn endorphins are addicting, distracting and keeping people out of your showrooms. These very same neuro-chemicals may even be keeping you from focusing on the showroom challenge you have in front of you. What can you do to get in on the gamification action?

First, look at how your customers shop for anything nowadays – not simply a bike, UTV, parts and accessories, but anything. The early Internet wasn’t too addictive since it only involved one or maybe two of the five human senses – SEEING and occasionally HEARING. Then came YouTube and now streaming video, which are more fully engaging both eyes and ears at the convenience of the customer – not your salespeople.

Customers can now verbally ask Google or YouTube how to find a part and access a matching tutorial video on how to change it themselves. No more tapping the parts guy or service manager for free DIY advice. Siri, Bixby, Alexa and Google actually talk back with the answers to questions we ask. Incredible, revolutionary… and you have been robbed of your customers!

Next came the configurators… You know the “Build It” concept on many auto and some motorcycle websites. Yamaha launched the Star Motorcycles configurator a couple years ago. Their “We Build It and You Make It Your Own” tagline related directly to our industry’s passion to personalize, accessorize and customize our products.

It was “on the money” with what was also happening on websites for Nike, Fender guitars, Oakley and Vans. Even fashion sites like Stitchfix mix and match entire outfits instead of other sites only offering a la carte apparel. Everyone who manufactured a “personalizable” product has built interactive and engaging configurators… which focus on a third human sense: TOUCH.

Not only can customers engage with a website and a video, they can now further engage with the product by navigating around, adding onto, personalizing and building their own fantasy machine… all while using their computer mouse. More endorphins being generated here as customers “win” the online game. Overnight, the mouse evolved into a gaming joystick with the endgame being to click “BUY NOW.” The customer wins… the dealer, not so much.

Online shopping has evolved into a highly scientific process most understood by the mind-benders and behavioral modifiers at Amazon, YouTube, Facebook and Google. Video streaming is the next tech barrier being broken as we observe technologies like network television fall by the wayside. VR goggles (as covered in my last column) can also enhance the new motorcycle or UTV “demo ride” at home on the couch… better yet, inside your showroom!

The only human senses left which the techo-world cannot provide directly to our palm is SMELLING and TASTING. Everything is changing under our noses (inhale), so you need to be aware of these effects on your customers.

I recently used a game-like configurator on www.miniusa.com to build my fantasy Mini Cooper Countryman last month. OK, I admit it was for my wife. But I got to add on my “goodies” which I thought (hoped) she would like too. Endorphins were flowing! At the end of my 15 minute gamified experience learning all the features, benefits, accessories and costs to the vehicle, I was presented with two options at the end of the experience:

1. Submit configuration to local dealer
2. Download configured product photo

I chose both, then pushed back in my chair looking for a cigarette (I don’t smoke, but it was a virtually orgasmic experience). I haven’t bought a new car in 10 years and I didn’t think I was about to, but I did think about a test drive to see if I liked the new AWD model or not.

Within 12 hours of my artistically inspired configuration’s submission into the wild blue, a nice email from a real person (with a name) arrived in my in-basket from the local dealer inviting me to a test drive. That was it — nothing about price, accessories, configurators, interest rates. No pressure, just a non-intimidating invitation to a test drive. My wife and I jumped at the chance… and after some haggling, bought the car the same day as the test drive. The points here are:

1. The configurator got me inside the store! It was a very effective game = “bait.”
2. I was already familiar with all the F&Bs and prices from the configurator before visiting
3. I learned additional opportunities from the salesman which the website couldn’t communicate (low interest rate going away soon)
4. The configurator compressed the buying process by two hours.

BTW – the car I bought looked NOTHING like the one I configured online. Get it?

The lead generation industry is incredible – especially in the auto industry. If you aren’t up to speed on how to follow up on OEM leads and take advantage of their various forms of consumer bait – SEO, digital advertising, configurators, chatrooms, keywords – then you are falling rapidly behind the pack. Homo sapiens have evolved, the market has evolved and the dealers who don’t evolve are going the way of the dinosaur.

Join the modern world of gamified, endorphin-generating lead generation. Work every single lead you receive – just be wary of getting Text Neck Overuse Syndrome yourself.

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