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Subject: Marketing 101 for Game Publishing rss

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mike
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Caveat: This is intended as general marketing advice if you are:
* A Designer who is running their own kickstarter campaign
* A designer who has decided to self publish your game
* A new publishing company

If you are a new designer that wants to send submissions to established game/toy companies, this might not apply, however self promotion of at least a website or social media page is never a bad thing.

Since the question has come up frequently from new designers on how to add a fan base on facebook or drive traffic to their kickstarter page, I figured this would be a good opportunity to provide some general guidance.

A few tips though before we get started
1. Write a marketing plan
2. Write a marketing plan
3. Write a marketing plan
4. It is never too early to start marketing your game or company, do not wait until a few weeks before launching your campaign
5. Write a marketing plan

I seriously cannot stress the marketing plan aspect enough, even if it is just a couple pages or turns out to be a checklist, you need to get something down on paper on how you plan to market your company or game/s prior to launch. Marketing should never be an OH CRAP! Now how do we market this moment.

1. Websites
2. Social Media
3. Internet Advertising
4. Traditional Advertising Media (Print, Radio, TV)
5. Local Advertising
6. Game Stores
7. Conventions and Tradeshows
8. Game Groups
9. Reviews
10. Other


I understand everyone is going to have a different situation, budget, constraints, etc, so you should never feel you need to hit all the categories, but when developing you plan you should at least look at each category and determine why you can’t use it, if it is budget then that’s fine, note that and move on to the next one.

1. Websites
#1 most important item is to get a website, this is an absolute must, and Facebook, Blogs, Word press etc are never good replacements for a website.

If you don’t have a company set up yet that’s fine, either use your name or the games name, but go to godaddy.com or any of the other domain registration sites and buy your domain name and get one of the cheap webhosting packages.

If your game is going to be Drunken Parrot Paradise then go buy drunkenparrotpardise.com and at least get a coming soon page up to park your domain, until you get the webpage built.

While the web creator pages are ok, if you don’t have experience creating WebPages it is a good idea to hire someone who does. A non-professional looking page can sink your reputation just as fast as a crappy game or game review.

2. Social Media
There are dozens of these so where do you start? Well you go where your customers are, so you need to pick the sites where you think people who would be interested in your type of game are hanging out.

If you have a company set up then I would at a minimum set up a company page on Linkedin and a company page on Facebook. You might also look into joining the game related groups on those sites as well.

Check out share this sharethis.com/, it’s a good widget to have on your website and will give you an idea of which social media sites are out there, if you don’t have any experience using them. Take a look at the sites, see what kinds of companies are using them if any and see if there are any groups discussions on games, products etc

More on how to use social media in a separate post as there are some great articles on how to build a fan base in days

3. Internet Advertising
Targeted Banner Ads, internet radio, blogs

4. Traditional Advertising Media (Print, Radio, TV)
This probably isn’t going to apply if you are self-publishing for the first time, however if you have access to any college radio stations or public access shows that are willing to give you a plug or have any shows related to games this could be an option.

Sadly there are very few game related magazines left on the market, but if there are any left that have an advertising section this is something to consider.

5. Local Advertising
Flyers for you local game stores, gaming clubs, game groups, don’t forget the high school and college clubs/groups

6. Game Stores
You need to hit up your local game store, offer them a copy of your game for reviews if they do them, or if they have a day for demos of new games or any groups that do demos of new games

If anything else do they have bulletin board for flyers, do they have a website and with a links section or banner ads.

Do they do any features for local designers

7. Conventions and Tradeshows
I don’t know all of the active current tradeshows or conventions that are out there but a good list to start with is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_gaming_conventions

It’s a good idea to go to shows in your local area at least to promote your company/game

8. Game Groups
Same as local game store are you involved with local groups in your area. (not your friends) but organized groups in your area, board game association, etc

Get demo copies in front of these groups.

9. Reviews
I’m not a fan of paid reviews as I feel they should be from unbiased 3rd parties kind of like consumer reports does for most consumer products. I understand those exist in this business, but that’s for another discussion.

If you are going to have any review of your game make sure it is the most complete copy of the game you have and not just a rough prototype/demo copy. A bad review is going to cause some serious damage for a new designer/company. You want to be careful how you use reviews and if you’re not giving them the production level copy of the game, make sure they are aware of that and that gets stated in there review.

10. Other

Never, ever discount word of mouth amongst your network of friends and fellow gamers.

This is also the section for an unconventional means of advertising that may have been left out from the list so far.
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Joe Mucchiello
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Re: Marketing 101 for New Designers
This looks more like Marketing 101 for New Publishers. Designers should design and leave marketing to publishers. This advice is great for selling a game to consumers. If designers are doing marketing they should be selling a game or themselves to publishers. That is a very different kind of marketing.
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Scott Nicholson
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Re: Marketing 101 for New Designers
jmucchiello wrote:
This looks more like Marketing 101 for New Publishers. Designers should design and leave marketing to publishers. This advice is great for selling a game to consumers. If designers are doing marketing they should be selling a game or themselves to publishers. That is a very different kind of marketing.


I agree completely. I think it's sending a bad message to future game designers to set an expectation that they will be having to do a significant portion of the marketing of a game as well.

5% of the take of a game sale isn't worth the time and effort for the designer to spend a significant amount of effort on marketing. A company expecting the designer to do a significant amount of marketing is taking advantage of that designer.

Now, that said, the advice is good for a self-publisher or game publishing company, but it's not what a designer should be doing.

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Brook Gentlestream
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Re: Marketing 101 for New Designers
snicholson wrote:
I agree completely. I think it's sending a bad message to future game designers to set an expectation that they will be having to do a significant portion of the marketing of a game as well.


I disagree. I've read a lot of books about authorship and promoting novels and *every one* of them agrees that leaving marketing to the publishers is a recipe for disaster. There's a reason so many authors do book signing and such. The reality is, even with a major publisher, if you an author wants his book to be successful, then he must devote time, energy, and planning into marketing in the months after the book has been released. This is how you build a fan base.

I don't imagine the situation is different for game designers. Publishers will do what they can, but relying on them exclusively to market your product for you is not a good idea. A designer's efforts will always be more effective, especially in coordination with the publisher's own efforts.

Disclaimer: I have not yet had a game published, so these comments are based on research, heresay, and common sense.
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Travis Worthington
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Re: Marketing 101 for New Designers
lordrahvin wrote:
snicholson wrote:
I agree completely. I think it's sending a bad message to future game designers to set an expectation that they will be having to do a significant portion of the marketing of a game as well.


I disagree. I've read a lot of books about authorship and promoting novels and *every one* of them agrees that leaving marketing to the publishers is a recipe for disaster. There's a reason so many authors do book signing and such. The reality is, even with a major publisher, if you an author wants his book to be successful, then he must devote time, energy, and planning into marketing in the months after the book has been released. This is how you build a fan base.

I don't imagine the situation is different for game designers. Publishers will do what they can, but relying on them exclusively to market your product for you is not a good idea. A designer's efforts will always be more effective, especially in coordination with the publisher's own efforts.


A good publisher will do most of the promotion and it absolutely should be their job to do so. To a certain extent there is a rich get richer effect as a game (or book) that is selling well will get more promotion attention from the publisher, so at times I can understand why designers might feel that their game isn't being promoted effectively - but its a bit of cold truth that if a game/book isn't adopted in the first year after publication its very unlikely that its going to be "discovered" at a later date.

As an FYI, In most cases it is the publisher that is setting up the book signings - at least the high visibility ones.
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mike
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Re: Marketing 101 for New Designers
@ Scott and Joe

Actually it's not just for publishers because what if you decide to not pitch your game idea to an established publisher and decide to go ahead and self publish?

Even if you're doing everything youself the same marketing principles are going to apply, you may not use all of them but you will certainly need to consider some of them
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Travis Worthington
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Re: Marketing 101 for New Designers
As a game designer the best marketing you can do is to design a game that people enjoy playing and will tell their friends about, bring to game nights, feel compelled to write reviews and most importantly want to play over and over again after the first play.

The more players the better - two player games are a tough sell as often the opponent is the same so its unlikely that playing the game will lead to a sale.

Games that take multiple plays to "get" are tough for new designers - people are willing to give Martin Wallace games a couple plays because they know and trust his designs - but Joe Unknown won't get that luxury. A lot of designers gt their start on simpler games and then move to more complex. But really a good simpler, shorter game is going to find a publisher easier than a longer game so no need to feel compelled to develop a heavy euro, despite the predominance on this site for such games.

Many game submissions I see are perfectly fine, workable games but it is the rare game that elicits a compelling need to play again right away, and then again. Those are the ones that publishers really want. When your playtesters (friends and blind playtesters) are asking to play your game over ones already published, then you know that you have something that is ready to look for publication.
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Sen-Foong Lim
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Re: Marketing 101 for New Designers
I know designers who want the publisher to pay for their airfare/accomodation/etc. to be at a signing. Hence, they're not at many. That's a lot to ask for...but some designers feel an appearance at a con / signing is a job that they should be paid for.

Jay and I travel to local cons and stores, set up demo days, sign some games, etc. Hence, we've sold out of every copy that store brought in on the day of the signing, generated orders for more, and - most importantly for us - garnered a lot of good will from the store itself and the local gaming community. We've had such good response that some stores have soon started boardgame nights, or prototyping nights...not all because of us, but definitely related to the interest their patrons showed in seeing how games are designed, talking to designers, and getting the inside scoop on things.

We send out requests for interviews to magazines and weblogs, press releases to media, and script/shoot/edit/score our videos (teasers, rules, designer vlogs) with help from our friends. Generally, things were it's almost as much about us as designers as it is about a game, specifically...As gamers, Jay and I like being at the cons anyway.

The publisher definitely gets review copies out to those who can make an impact. Generally, places that are more interested in the game than the designers behind it...

We definitely come from a book promotion angle as well. It's a two-pronged attack. The publisher works to get the game into stores. We work to get people buying the game. While I'd love it if I could get paid to be at conventions (and maybe, someday, that'll be a reality), it's a labour of love at this point. At least that's kind of how I see it.
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Chevee Dodd
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lordrahvin wrote:

I disagree. I've read a lot of books about authorship and promoting novels and *every one* of them agrees that leaving marketing to the publishers is a recipe for disaster. There's a reason so many authors do book signing and such. The reality is, even with a major publisher, if you an author wants his book to be successful, then he must devote time, energy, and planning into marketing in the months after the book has been released. This is how you build a fan base.

I don't imagine the situation is different for game designers. Publishers will do what they can, but relying on them exclusively to market your product for you is not a good idea. A designer's efforts will always be more effective, especially in coordination with the publisher's own efforts.



I don't disagree with you, but the author (or in our case, designers) should be looking to promote themselves more than a single product. As everyone knows, one successful game in this industry does not a fortune make. The designers making a living at it (who do not self publish) are licensing multiple games per year. That should be the goal of any author/designer.

Leave marketing individual products up to the publisher. Do not forget though that YOU are a product and you should be promoting yourself. If you only have one game or even a handful published, you SHOULD be selling yourself. You SHOULD be seeking to get your name in front of publishers, and what better way than building a social whirlwind around yourself? I'm sure Reiner Knizia is frequently approached by publishers seeking games to license, but that doesn't just happen overnight. It takes hard work and successful products before a publisher will seek you out. Until that day comes, you should be promoting yourself at every opportunity in hopes of getting new games licensed.
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CW Karstens
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I agree with Chevee. A designer should be at conventions, etc., but to work on the next design and network. Publishers should be marketing, providing demos, staffing booths and the like.

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lordrahvin wrote:
snicholson wrote:
I agree completely. I think it's sending a bad message to future game designers to set an expectation that they will be having to do a significant portion of the marketing of a game as well.


I disagree. I've read a lot of books about authorship and promoting novels and *every one* of them agrees that leaving marketing to the publishers is a recipe for disaster. There's a reason so many authors do book signing and such. The reality is, even with a major publisher, if you an author wants his book to be successful, then he must devote time, energy, and planning into marketing in the months after the book has been released. This is how you build a fan base.

I don't imagine the situation is different for game designers. Publishers will do what they can, but relying on them exclusively to market your product for you is not a good idea. A designer's efforts will always be more effective, especially in coordination with the publisher's own efforts.

Disclaimer: I have not yet had a game published, so these comments are based on research, heresay, and common sense.




I may just have a bachelors degree in Creative Writing, but from what I know, the publishing worlds of writing and games are very different. The infrastructure of companies and audience are very different. While big book publishing houses are pushing authors to be more self-marketing, that's not necessarily true of big game companies.

That being said, those rules certainly apply to anyone trying to push their game themselves, but should also be modified based on who you're marketing to. Do you want a big company to pick up the game? Do you want people to order the game dirrectly from you? Do you want specific stores to carry the game? The op touches on all those points, but it's incredibly important to focus on audience and goals.
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Timothy Marlorme
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I am in the perfect position to receive this advice and I find it quite helpful. Thanks!
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Tom Razo
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The short list of the many plates that one must keep spinning on the way to publication and thereafter.
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Joe Mucchiello
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80sgamer wrote:
@ Scott and Joe

Actually it's not just for publishers because what if you decide to not pitch your game idea to an established publisher and decide to go ahead and self [b]publish]/b]?

See that last word there? When you cross that line, you become a publisher. Then your advice on marketing 101 for publishers as I categorized it is just fine.
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mike
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The bottom line is if you are designing games to make a profit, regardless of which route you take;
*submitting to an established publisher
*using print on demand
*or trying to raise funds to publish the game yourself, through kickstarter, online sales, etc

then you need to understand some basic marketing principles.

Authors, designers, artists, market themselves all the time generally through their portofolio and published works, it's not the sole responsibility of the publisher nor the business types.
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Joe Mucchiello
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80sgamer wrote:
Authors, designers, artists, market themselves all the time generally through their portofolio and published works, it's not the sole responsibility of the publisher nor the business types.

I don't disagree. And most of marketing involves just a few simple principles. But the advice as given in the first post of this thread is aimed straight at whoever is trying to get customers to buy a game. We call that publishing, not designing. When wearing the publisher's cap, the post is solid, direct, pointed advice. When wearing the designer's cap, it is less useful and focused in the wrong direction, the consumer.

And this is a moot point at this point since you changed the thread title. My responses only apply to the original thread title: Marketing 101 for Game Designers.
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Jozsh J.
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This is totally good if you want to market yourself/product to the people, and not the industry. Respectfully, cut out the middle-man, and truly be indie. Everyone has the choice to do it: Musicians, video game designers, etc... I'm aiming to self-publish, and at the moment, I plan to just sell the game on my website/amazon, so I find this as good reminder of the steps to take in choosing such a route.

Thanks, Mike!
 
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