Life, The Universe, And Gaming: Confessions Of An Xbox Promoter
I’m exhausted, right now. It’s been a long week of promotions and we’re not even done yet, and all I really want to do is curl up in bed and pass out until the morning. (It’s Sunday night, by the way.) Alas, that cannot happen until I’ve completed my column for this week; I’ve not missed a slot since starting and I don’t intend on breaking that trend now.
What’s that? Yes, I’m a promoter. Well, technically I’ve employed myself as a promoter, but I help out with Xbox promotions in Durban and one of these tasks is to recruit promoters, so I just get involved as well because the pay is good and I have the necessary knowledge and passion to successfully promote Xbox stuff. But enough about me– actually given that it’s my column, I suppose I can just keep going, right? Okay, so where was I? Right. Promotions.
Since last Monday, I’ve been running a promotion at Gateway (Theatre of Shopping) in Umhlanga, Durban, for a large-scale, popular chain store. It’s been quite a hectic schedule that begins with me driving just under an hour to Gateway, spending some ten hours there and then driving another hour-ish back. Then I get home and have articles to do, or a whole bunch of other things. No gaming, no series, no comics, no reading, none of it. Too tired, too little time, too much work. At least the pay is good.
Anyway for my column today, I’ve been thinking about this idea for a while and I figured it would be neat to talk about some of my experiences with this promotion. As gamers — at least, I hope you’re all gamers — it’s easy to overlook certain things or take for granted, certain things that we just know. However the layman, as we know them, does not see these things in the same way that we do. And I thought some of them might be worth sharing.
Some stuff is your pretty straightforward affair of technologically inferior older folks asking questions anyone who grew up without Apartheid would understand. Stuff like whether consoles work with DVDs (“CDs”) or cartridges, how many cables are required to get the consoled connected and running, what is an HDMI, how do the controllers work without cables, how does Kinect work, what other games can one play using it, and so on and so forth.
Two of the questions I get asked the most while promoting are as follows, and I’m going to dedicate a paragraph each to talking about them:
“What’s the difference between a 4GB and a 250GB Xbox 360?” — You mean, besides the obvious? A lot of people have asked me this. Nobody really knows what the hard drives in an Xbox 360 could be used for. We know that they’re for games you download off Xbox LIVE and for storing save files, but a legitimate question I get asked is whether 4GB is enough. I typically ask if they would like to connect their console to the internet and if not, explain that it is. One smart person actually asked a question that got me interested in the answer, specifically whether an Xbox 360 hard drive could be used to store video files and music. Finally, something I could work with.
“Which is better — PS3 or Xbox 360?” — There was the one guy who actually asked which was better between the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 4, but I digress. How does one answer this? I usually asked them what they would like to use their consoles for. I figured if they were into casual gaming and motion controls, they were better suited to the Kinect and Xbox 360 bundles, but if they favoured some of the more traditional core gaming experiences then they might fancy a PlayStation 3 instead. (Am I allowed to admit this in an open forum?) What would you do if someone asked you such a question and you answered objectively?
Then there were those people who just wanted to be troublesome. One particular lady insisted that a particular bundle that included Skylanders: Swap Force together with an Xbox 360 and Kinect was promised to her, and that it wasn’t in stock means she was lied to, only, I know for a fact that no such bundle exists. A further phonecall to an Xbox associate then verified that fact. Yet she insisted that she was being lied to, even going so far as to create a scene for everyone around to see, citing her unhappiness with Xbox. As if I personally led her astray or something. Don’t shoot the messenger, lady.
What’s a little frustrating is that I try to be as honest and helpful as possible, insofar as, if I feel that a better deal can be found elsewhere for whatever a person speaking to me is looking for, I will send them to that place. I’m not affiliated to any particular company or brand and so, I’m not going to lie to them to push sales. I’m very honest about stuff and I like to think of it as promotional advice, rather than promotional sales. I’m not there to sell consoles (technically, that’s what I’m paid to do, though) but rather, I’m there to sell good consumer advice; to my appreciation, a lot of people tend to trust that advice, too. Except for those few bad apples who are convinced that you’re out to cheat them of their hard-earned money, as above.
One really cool thing happened, though, when a lady who at first seemed extremely indifferent to my promotional advice to the point that I considered her to be a lost sale (someone who was just there to waste my time, effectively) asked me to accompany her into the store I was promoting for, in order to help her to purchase the console on special. Her reasoning was that she didn’t trust the instore staff and would rather I came along in case they tried to rip her off. Feeling somewhat flattered by this trust in a complete stranger with a green golfer, I accompanied her to the store, helped her to pick the console, an extra wireless controller, an HDMI cable, some games for her daughter and then one for her brother; quite possibly the highlight was when she picked up Mass Effect 3 and asked me if it was a good game to get for her brother. I then showed her my Paragon tattoo and explained that it was so good, I only went and got a tattoo of it on my arm, which elicited a laugh and the game going off the shelf. I then left her to make her purchase and she stopped by the promotional area outside the store on her way home to show me that she’d bought all of it. She then thanked me for my help and went on her way.
Redeeming moments like that are what promoting is all about. It’s hard work sometimes, and the hours can get long, but the plus side, apart from getting paid to play games, effectively, is the satisfaction you get from knowing that you’ve just helped an uninformed customer to make an informed purchase, and you know they’re going to enjoy years of benefit from that. It’s moments like those that make all of it worthwhile. Even dealing with the bad attitudes of others, or the irresponsible parents who treat promoters like free day care centres for their children.
The promotion isn’t over yet and I’m quite confident that my team of promoters has catalysed the store’s console sales to a ridiculous rate. Just going on the amount of people who walked out of the store on Sunday with consoles after speaking to us, it clearly highlights just how invaluably vital promotions (and inherently, promoters) are to big stores. But mostly, I’m just happy to be able to educate a few more people in the world.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to resume my daydreaming about sleeping…