The B2B Marketer’s Reading List: Jon Radoff’s “Game On” (Part 1)

Game On: Energize Your Business with Social Media Games by Jon RadoffNow that the holidays are over and many of us are in the depths of another cold, harsh January winter, it’s the perfect time to check out some books that might actually help you better understand, motivate and market to your customers. Perhaps reading a few marketing books is actually one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2014.

Jon Radoff’s Game On: Energize Your Business with Social Media Games is an excellent summary of some of the latest trends of gamification, which is the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts (such as advocate marketing programs).

Since we believe that you need to make advocate marketing an engaging experience for your advocates, I was eager to read this book and provide some highlights to assist you as you build out your own advocate marketing program.

Here are the first five of my Top 10 takeaways and how they relate to advocate marketing:

1. The best games are those that evoke emotions

Positive emotions will keep people coming back for more. As an example, recognizing advocates and providing feedback hits you at the emotional level. Be sure to make this a regular practice.

2. Humans hunger for social contact

As part of an advocate marketing program, be sure to make it easy for advocates to interact with each other both in person and virtually. For example, at events (such as a user group or a third-party event like Dreamforce), have a meeting spot for advocates and/or recognize them publicly.

3. “Fun-gineer” the experience

Radoff points out that when you design an experience that is fun, you increase engagement, involvement and memory. That brings people back for more. Make sure that your advocate marketing program has some fun elements to it.

For example, ask advocates if they experienced a funny story that they want to share or add in a game such as a rebus that makes it challenging yet entertaining. Another idea is to include “hidden treasures” or “Easter eggs” where you surprise your advocates with a special perk or “challenge”.

4. There are many motivators, be sure to hit on many of them

Your advocate marketing program cannot have a linear focus where you only ask advocates to give you referrals. Similarly, if you simply provide a monetary reward, this program will not sustain itself in the long run. You need to concentrate on what will motivate your advocates.

We’ve already outlined that you need to be in tune with their emotions, make it fun and include social contact. Radoff provides a number of additional examples (here are a few):


Your advocates want to be recognized. This may include being included in the Top 10 on a leaderboard, but it can also mean having dinner with your CEO. Creating a special real badge that advocates can wear at events is also a recommended approach.


People like being part of an elite group. Be sure that your advocacy program feels that way. For example, recognize your advocates by sending them a thank you note or setting aside reserved seating at an event.


Take advocacy to a higher level. As an example, advocates can pay it forward by translating their advocate activities into a charitable donation.

5. People like to learn but don’t like the process

Attaining knowledge is a major part of many games, but you need to make this interesting. Advocate marketing is very similar. Advocates are looking for information that will give them a leg up to either help their company or advance their career. This is crucial in making your advocate marketing program valuable to your advocates as it answers the question, “What’s in it for me?”

Radoff says that you need to trick some of these people to make learning fun and engaging. When asking advocates to read and share materials, you can frame it so it appears as gossip (“Psst! I have something you may be interested in…”).

Another popular approach that our clients use is a scavenger hunt as a way of highlighting important product materials.

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