Marketing in the Participation Age

The Participation Age is more fragmented, personal, connected, real-time, and always on than we could ever imagine. It is about Participants who actively manage life by utilizing the many technology tools at their fingertips. Successful marketers in this new age will not simply focus on customers, but be customer obsessed with them, others prefer to call them users implying interaction is key. Competitive companies understand that they must do more and motivate customers to act on their behalf to be successful and inspire people to participate and keep them coming back.

Marketing in the Participation Age is a new marketing philosophy based on the Intrinsic Motivation Theory that people are motivated to seek challenges, to discover new perspectives, and in doing so, the activity itself stimulates their desire to actualize their individual human potential. If a person is intrinsically motivated, they will choose to actively engage and participate and the experience will be rewarding. Social environments can be designed to facilitate and enable participation, or they can just as easily cause disruption and disinterest.

This theory has been applied to psychology and education. It has never been applied to marketing because it has not been relevant to do so…until now. Living by the principles of Marketing in the Participation Age will help companies edge out their competitors, and conscientiously plan their programs to activate a set of motivational elements that work together to inspire people to join, share, take part, connect, and engage. The key to customer participation is to activate all three elements of the framework:

  1. Discover: The human desire to continually learn, and the satisfaction of becoming competent at something. In what ways are you inviting Participants to learn more about your product/brand?
  2. Empower: Inviting someone to have a meaningful contribution to the brand and/or product. Do you invite Participants to connect with the brand: provide feedback, offer tips and suggestions, and help to create the product itself?
  3. Connect: Humans love to interact with others in meaningful ways. Brands often only think of creating environments that allow Participants to connect with the brand, but do you build environments that foster relationships with others who may share the same interest?