I’ve got a secret.
The following is a reprint of the Ad Nauseam column which appeared in the September 30, 2008 edition of the Metaverse Messenger
Brands are constantly being scolded for their pitiful attempts to break into Second Life. They build a few buildings, offer a few pointless freebies, and then sit back waiting for avatars to come flying in. It doesn’t work, it hasn’t worked, and it’s not likely to work.
Consultants, such as Millions of Us, try to convince them that they must offer something to the community, and in some cases the suits have even listened — with varying results. The release of the newest Harry Potter movie was promoted with viral giveaways, and Evian offered samples of their water which were accompanied by free skins that were perceptibly better than the default skins we all get as newbies.
But no matter what they do, it never seems to be enough. The stink of failure covers them like a car that’s run over a skunk.
You could even feel sorry for them if they weren’t so oddly blind to the ultimate problem.
Let’s back up a few years. There once was a time in which not a single company had an presence on the Web. There were many reasons for this, but the main one, it has to be admitted, was that there was no such thing as the Web. Once it was invented (by Al Gore, according to rumor), a few of the more forward-looking companies tried their hand at creating virtual stores where customers could get information about their products and even make purchases. Some were more successful than others, but those who made a go of it had several characteristics in common, such as creating sites with value-added services, a running tally of in-store stock, and even methods of contacting real live people for help.
But even the best-laid sites would have withered away if the companies behind them hadn’t done one very important thing —they told people about them!
I can still remember the first time I saw an ad on TV for something (can’t remember what it was) which included the URL for their Web site. “Will anyone actually take the time to visit?” I wondered.
Well, people did. Today, of course, it’s rare to find an ad that doesn’t include information on finding their online presence. “Call, visit or click” is a phrase that I find occurring with amazing frequency in ads from TV commercials to the printed page.
You see, here’s the thing: if you’re going to do something cutting edge and avant-garde, if you’re going to set up a new approach to doing business, you have to tell people!
This isn’t a secret power-principle of business — or at least it shouldn’t be. If you want people to visit the smart, efficient, clever, dynamic, or what-have-you website, you have to let them know it’s there.
So let’s pop back to the present and take a look at the companies that came into Second Life. Coke has always been considered one of the successes, mostly because they didn’t end up with a complete, abject failure. But the bar for success in virtual world marketing, it has to be admitted, has been set pretty damned low. Still, let’s credit them with their little triumph. How did they spread the word about their sim? Well, by word of avatar-mouth, for one. Then there was…uh. Well there was word of avatar-mouth — damn, I already mentioned that one.
The fact is, aside from the short spurt of publicity they gathered when they first came in world, the bright boys and girls behind the bold new marketing concept never told anybody about it.
Or maybe I missed something. Perhaps you can recall some TV commercials from the time which ended with an invitation to visit their new virtual land in Second Life? A tag at the end of magazine ad with the SLURL of their corporate island with an offer of a free virtual Coke? Anything like that? Anyone?
No. I didn’t think so.
The fact is, to the best of my knowledge, not a single corporation which has attempted in -world marketing has bothered to clue in their customers. None.
Does this strike anyone else as being, oh…I don’t know. Brainless? A tad dim-witted? A few swings short of a playground?
So here’s a bit of advice for anyone contemplating yet another marketing blitz in the untapped world of Second Life: when you do it — tell people about it! Put the information in your real world publicity. Generate interest. That is, after all, part of the reason you want to come into Second Life in the first place, isn’t it? To generate or renew interest in your brand? Well, everything else aside, a good start is by letting the general public in on the secret.
And of course, as more companies include references to Second Life in their advertising, the more people will be drawn to our humble little world which, in turn, will also mean a larger audience for in-world promotions.
See how that works?
Tell people, ya nitwits!
Categories: virtual marketing