Spent yesterday participating in the Virtual Worlds At Work Symposium talking about using virtual worlds for Sales Training. Thanks to Anders Gronstedt for the invitation.
While most of my development in Second Life has been around new hire training and leadership, I think there’s a really exciting opportunity for using product avatars for consumer education.
Second Life is replete with corporate products created not by the companies but by loyal users. I forget where I heard/read the quote but think it’s a great one:
“Coke was in Second Life before ‘Coke’ was in Second Life.”
The point being that Coke-branded objects were created long before Coke was officially participating in-world.
This hopefully isn’t a surprise since we grew up with these products and are inundated with their marketing every day. Admittedly, one of the first things I created in Second Life was an Apple MacBook that replaced the default typing animation.
So, knowing your customers identify with your brands, use your products and recreate them in virtual spaces, how can you leverage that connection for enhanced consumer training and education?
Consider what it would look like if your company’s products and services could be represented by an anthropomorphic avatar. And, yes, Second Life furries are fun but I’m more interested in using such characters for corporate training and learning.
Enter product-based avatars. They can offer a personal experience that commercials and advertising can’t.
- New way for residents to interact with your brands
- Product comparisons or better, product debates and town halls could be held;
- Product education and awareness
We’ve seen hundreds of anthropomorphic mascots over the years including:
- Tony the Tiger
- Taco Bell Dog
- Mr Stay Puft
- Kool Aid
With virtual worlds, your mascots, products and services can break the fourth wall and actually interact and educate your customers.
Here are just a couple possibilities:
- Pharmaceutical/Health Care: Pharm-based avatars could represent different pills and educate users how they interact with each other. (Ever read the back of a prescription bottle? There has to be a better way of showing what I can and can’t take with my meds.)
- Mortgage/Financial Services: What would it look like if various avatars represented mortgage products and services? A Conventional fixed-30 could debate with a 5yr ARM product and allow participants to learn about the pros and cons of each depending on the consumer’s needs.
- Legal: Avatars representing categories of torts (negligence, nuisance, defamation, etc) could put on a virtual play and learners could ask questions and interact with specific torts.
Just something I’ve been playing around with and I realize there are serious risks involved for some companies.
Maybe one place to start would be internal training. Role play scenarios could take place between your employees with one group as the products and the other as the customer. After some time, the program could evolve and your product-avatars could go “public” and begin working directly with your customers. Of course then the tough questions start coming in.
Could your products hold up in a two-way conversation? Are you willing to find out?