In his famous poem, William Shakespeare begins with the lines, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
But what if that were true in more than just an allegorical sense?
No, I’m not talking about the philosophical underpinnings of divine intervention or manifest destiny. Rather, what if we found ourselves caught up inside an actual “game-of-life” game where everyone was inconspicuously wearing augmented reality contacts or glasses, and the object of the game was to influence the behavior and actions of others? Consider the following:
Pantene is a well-known brand of shampoo developed and marketed by Procter & Gamble. The people managing their affiliate gaming project are an executive team inside the company.
The object of the game you’re playing is to influence as many people as possible to purchase more Pantene. For this reason you will receive points for every time you mention the product name, and extra points whenever a person you’ve been in contact with makes a purchase.
This presumes that companies will have the ability to continually track everything said by the “player” as well as everything heard by the prospective buyer. To make this more interesting, players will have the ability to see a real-time scoreboard hovering in space above the heads of everyone they come in contact with.
Since we all know how annoying it would be to have someone shouting brand names on every street corner, there will naturally be lots of rules to make it a truly effective form of marketing.
Because this is a long-term influencer game, actual sales pitches will cause players to lose points, but well framed testimonials and personal anecdotes couched in interesting stories will land them bonus points and adding predetermined phrases like – “My hair has never looked so good!” – will cause them to level up even faster.
Other rule may include:
- Gamers must not mention the same brand names or marketing phrases more than once every 15 seconds and never more than 3 times per encounter
- Brand names cannot be mentioned in the same sentence as any competitor brand names except when making a product comparison to show the superiority of the product being talked about.
- Gamers must be speaking and prospects must be listening. No prerecorded messages and the recipient must indicate some form of acknowledgement, so no headphones or ear buds.
However, as with all games, they become far more compelling when you can amp up the “fun” part of the equation and you’re making money in 1,000 different ways in the process.
The Fine Art of Gamification
For those of you who haven’t studied game theory, gamification is a combination of tools using psychology, behavioral modification, goal setting, and intrinsic motivators designed to flip a series of levers and switches inside the human brain to achieve a desired outcome.
There are five intrinsic motivators pre-wired into most people:
- Control – Desire to have more control over situations
- Mastery – Constant drive for improvement
- Purpose – Our need to make a difference
- Progress – Internal drivers fueled by our achievements
- Social Interaction – Our ability to interact socially with those we come into contact with
Behavioral research has demonstrated that tapping into these five drivers can make virtually anyone’s life or work more focused, fun, and meaningful. For this reason gamification has become the center of attention for unleashing the untapped potential across all employees, including all job titles and all departments.
As we dive into some of the everyday uses for gamification, I will attempt to connect the dots between emerging tools, human motivation, business, and personal success, and show how each of these can be monetized.
Understanding the Payer-Payee Relationship
In the past we would wear a t-shirt of our favorite video game, post pictures of interesting situations, or mention products we bought as a routine part of life. But what if each of these actions had some sort of payment scheme associated with it?
NOTE: As our ability to monitor, collect, and parse data improves, so does the likelihood that we can assign value to every action and exert thousands of new forms of influence through single acts.
For instance, both companies and individuals are willing to pay for things like impressions, endorsements, approvals, referrals, opinions, recommendations, branding moments, and thousands of other forms of influence.
We are also willing to pay for if-then-actions like “if you spot X then take a photo,” or “if this happens then call this number,” or “if you wear these clothes at that event, then I’ll pay you…”
At the same time, we recognize the value of task-specific duties like “clean this up,” or “repaint that wall,” or “park that car.”
In the past, companies would hire people for full-time jobs and project work, but in the future these tasks may be reduced to a single action. Even minor actions like – drop this from a bridge, talk to this person, hand this to her, or throw that Frisbee – may have sufficient value to cause someone to be willing to pay for that action.
Think of this as the next generation of Google’s AdSense on steroids.
23 Lifestyle Monetization Scenarios
Gamification is driven by data, and gamification also uses data to motivate performance. In the past, most business was transacted through face-to-face meetings or via memos sent around the office. In the future, businesses will find new ways to leverage both data and people in a far more distributed manner.
In general, a person that comes into contact with 1,000 people on a daily basis is more valuable than someone who only comes into contact with 5.
A person speaking from a stage with a microphone is more valuable than someone talking one-on-one.
A writer that posts a column that is seen by 10,000 people is more valuable than a column read by 12 people.
Anyone with movie star good looks, stylish clothes, charming smile, affable mannerisms, and engaging banter is more valuable than someone who lacks these qualities.
Even a crazy person that can draw a crowd by juggling chainsaws on a street corner is more valuable than most of us from an attention-gathering perspective.
With this perspective in mind, every one of us has a mixture of qualities that can potentially be monetized. Things that we did freely in the past may soon be gamified with incentives. Here are just a few things people may be willing to pay for:
- Wear clothes, shoes, and accessories that are clickable, meaning someone can hold up a smartphone, get the information about the product, and purchase it online.
- Get paid to mention products, political candidates, brand names, company names, and more on social media.
- Become a “terabyter” by wearing gear to record everything you see and do all day long. (Data collectors are hugely valuable.)
- Wear a t-shirt with a logo or message and be seen by hundreds or thousands of people.
- Suggest someone improve their appearance through a variety of personal makeover services.
- Talk someone out of committing suicide. (Public service paid for by government, churches, or social groups.)
- Mount sensors on buildings, vehicles, and objects that currently don’t have sensors, or upgrade to the new improved version.
- Convince a criminal to turn themself in. (Public service paid for by government.)
- Engage people in conversation about specific products.
- Take photos of problem areas in a city, in a business, on a highway, or even on a playground.
- Recommend a law firm, accounting firm, insurance agent, or spa.
- Help someone find a loan, credit card, or crowdfunding opportunity.
- Coach someone on finding a job, project work, or networking opportunity.
- Fly a drone over a crowd with a promotional message on it.
- Help someone figure out how to stop wasting water, power, paper, or bandwidth.
- Convince someone to drop out of a gang. (Public service paid for by government.)
- Create a video around a specific goal, topic, or opportunity and get money for every download and impression.
- Write a blog post, create a charticle, or listicle, or any other form of viral messaging.
- Take a survey or poll and make money from recruiting others to do so as well.
- Wait in line. (Being a placeholder is a valuable service.)
- Mention something on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other form of social media.
- Create a spectacle worth mentioning, by others, on social media.
- Begin a whisper campaign. (“I don’t know this for certain, but these are the rumors I’ve been hearing…”)
Naturally only those things that someone will wish to offer money for will result in an income stream, but over time, the list will grow exponentially.
In time a few companies will develop global exchanges listing literally millions of task-specific or influence-specific monetizable acts.
Young people working to maximize their earning potential will use AI-assisted coaches to help focus their efforts on one act and immediately switch gears for the next opportunity once the previous one has been completed.
Electronic clothing will shift from one message, product, or logo to the next automatically to maximize each opportunity on a moment-by-moment basis.
The first person to achieve 1,000 revenue streams in a single day will make headline news all over the world causing millions to take notice of this fast-paced, quirky, micro-gig lifestyle.
The terms reporters will use for this kind of work will include everything from affiliate gaming, to human billboarding, to micro-gig whores, to street performers on steroids.
For those who have worked a single job their entire life, this is the opposite side of the spectrum from that. Some will use these techniques to become very wealthy while most will only use it to fill in the gaps.
For some this kind of lifestyle will represent the freedom to work both how-they-want and when-they-want. For others it will feel like they’ve become a total prostitute having to pretend they like thousands of products they don’t believe in.
That said, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Does the prospects of having multiple revenue streams appeal to you, and how much of your day would you be willing to dedicate to it to make it happen?
Author of “Communicating with the Future” – the book that changes everything