With experts predicting that 80% of Internet users will be members of virtual worlds by 2011, now is a good time to start thinking about your business’s foray into digital life. Virtual worlds offer companies a chance to showcase their brand in highly interactive environments.
So, what are some important factors to consider when taking your business virtual?
•Protect your brand. Research the virtual worlds you are considering to ensure that your brand is protected against piracy and copyright infringement. •Protect your customers. To keep your customers feeling safe, go to a place that maintains a PG-13 status as they are likely to appeal to a broader population. •Understand who uses virtual worlds. The demographics of consumers vary vastly depending on the virtual world you are targeting. Do your homework to make sure the audiences match. •Context is key. Keep in mind that virtual worlds mimic real-world settings. Your marketing program should reflect the aesthetics and interests of your real-world target audience. •Go where your customers are. Positioning your business in an online world doesn’t do any good if your audience can’t find you, so make sure that your business will be placed in a high-traffic locale. •Establish what metrics will determine your ROI. Understand how you will measure the performance of your campaign, and ensure that the virtual world you are considering has tools to track ROI.
Armed with the proper knowledge, small businesses can join the growing list of companies who already have a virtual world presence. If this is where your customers are spending time, then it’s worth considering if your brand should be there too.
Michael Wilson Chief Executive Officer Makena Technologies (producer of virtual world, There.com) Laguna Beach, Calif.