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Referral Marketing Lessons From the Nintendo 3DS

April 12, 2011

Yes, I'll admit it.

I bought Nintendo’s new 3DS game system.   In using it, I’ve found that it is indeed a referral machine, that can teach most businesses a thing or two about how to get more referrals.

We tend to think of social media as things like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and, to some extent, You-tube.  The 3DS is seeking to create its own social in-person networks by compelling you to take it everywhere, by rewarding you for taking it nearly everywhere.

The 3DS has a pedometer inside of it that rewards you for walking around with it.  Easy concept- you can’t use or show the 3DS to friends, family or strangers if you don’t have it with you.  The 3DS rewards you for passing near someone else with a 3DS using a technology called  “near field communications.”   Without you even knowing that it’s happening, if you are within 100 feet of another person with a 3DS, the two systems share non-personal information, and ‘play’ passive games- that reward you for winning AND playing.

For me, the information that is traded includes puzzle pieces, information for the game to run a  ‘fake’ Street Fighter fight, and our avatars (also know as a miis.)

Nintendo’s goal here is to get everyone to bring their 3DS systems everywhere.  Many upcoming games include location based-play that works best across the table from your opponent.  You can’t play those games as they are intended if your friends don’t have 3DS systems.

Nintendo also now has a great answer for “what is that” or “Can I try it.”  If you can’t try it, you can’t enjoy it, and if you can’t enjoy it, you can’t want it.  (Ask a Duct Tape Marketing coach about the marketing hourglass for more details on how that works)  Nintendo bundled “Face Raiders” an ‘augmented reality’ game that encourages you to take out your 3DS and loan them your 3DS to capture their photo.  The game does a fun mini-game that encourages engagement, that shows off several of the technologies as the borrower spins around the room shooting cute little softballs around the room they are presently in.  The marketing trick though, is that it encourages you to make your friends and family interact with the 3DS.

That means that the kids' parents are interacting with the system.  This also means that the grownups like me are also encouraging our other friends to try the system who may have thought they'd given up gaming a long time ago, or never tried to begin with.  So Nintendo is enabling millions of “accidental salespeople” to encourage their friends into holding and trying the system.

Referral generation has to start with the conversation about the product.  Having the 3DS with you encourages the conversation.

There then has to be a why:  In Nintendo’s case, it’s fun.

There then has to be a how:  Many of the games included in the 3DS reward the owner to hand the game to a friend to have it in their hands, to interact with it.

Based on following those referral rules, I think Nintendo equipped their millions of salespeople quite well.

So let me ask you this-  How are you encouraging your clients to share their experiences with you quickly and easily?

Written by leadingresults

Leading Results helps businesses stop wasting money on marketing and improves their business development results by putting POWER in their marketing. The POWER is the Processes, Organizational Support, Why (you do what you do), Expertise and Refer-ability. You get strategy, tactics and execution. We work with both individual businesses and businesses as part of a larger ecosystem. Be more profitable.

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