First time Board Game publisher

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Board Game Marketing

Madhumita Mani
Switzerland
Dubendorf
Zurich
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publisher
“Good marketing makes the company feel smart, but great marketing makes the customer feel smart” What better way to put forward our perspectives on marketing, than this? Remember that the customer is always your God and everything you do is to please them. Moreover, it is your board game as a primary product that plays such an important role in engaging the customer, so why not create marketing styles that do the same for your overall brand name? Marketing might seem like the easiest of tasks but what you don't know is that it can either make or break you. We believe that your board game is the best out there, but how do you prove that to an audience to make them interested and invest in it? Think about this for a moment: If the biggest companies like Nike and Adidas spend so much money, energy, and time on marketing and advertising their products, what does a first-time board game publishing company as yours do? This might seem like a bubble we need to pop for you, but there are so many simple ways that you can explore to market your board game, and if you do it the right way, we assure you of success in your sales. So let us get this phase right out of the way for you, in the simplest ways possible! Don’t worry, we are not ready to let go of you just yet! 

Firstly, your mindset needs to be straight about the fact that even though you have the best board game out there, it is not going to sell until your marketing mechanisms make it sell! Your board game could be great and you will put a lot of effort into creating it, but the marketing helps it reach the audience and promotes it to make people know about the company as a whole. To be honest, even if you create an average game that is not that great, but the game is accompanied by extensive and really good marketing, it will sell like candy to little kids. I think this establishes the crucial responsibility that you have, to strike a balance between your board game and the right level of marketing! 

So for any product, a board game in this context, it is always key to have a reasonable and predetermined budget for the marketing process. Set aside some of your finances to be put to good marketing use. The focus for a first-time publisher is ultimately building the brand presence, brand name, promotions, and getting people to know more about who you really are. People need to build their trust in your brand and your board game. You need to put out important details for them to know about your company, about the game, its components, costs, shipping process, etc. Satisfying your customer can help you boost your marketing efforts. It is normal to spend around 30-40 percent of your budget on marketing itself, as per the industry experts. You have the choice to not spend so much, but remember to strike the right balance with whatever amount of resources you choose to spend. 

When it comes to the general approach to marketing, you need to find the right medium to do it. Marketing has grown so much over the years, and we need to adapt to it. Nowadays you have a plethora of mediums for you to choose from. You could choose to try them all out at the beginning or move into different platforms, as per your choice. You cannot do marketing without social media. Social media is where marketing truly thrives. So making the most use of all the social media platforms out there, would be the wisest option to hop on as a first-time board game publisher! 

We generally suggest using Instagram for most of your marketing activities and building your brand for the audience to peruse. You can create a profile for your game or your company. If someone wants to know what your XYZ board game is, your profile should be a direct answer to all their queries. The view you present on your profile should be good enough for them to check out, and at the same time, it should be convincing enough for them to make their next move of buying it. You can make your page appealing through pictures of the board game, facts, information, rules, backstories, reviews, publishing processes, videos, reels, engaging Q and As, and so much more. Trust us when we say that this list is endless because the scope Instagram provides for marketing is very vast. So make the best use of everything you have at your fingertips! You might not receive a lot of leads through it, but it is more like a built-up for your brand presence.

As a first-time publisher, you might get a lot of requests for review copies from different reviewers. It is great to provide them with review copies but do not be misguided while you’re at it! You need to be very smart about who you give your review copies to because it should benefit your brand in the end. Just aimlessly providing all the reviewers with review copies might not help you the way you think it will. You need to be careful and measure your pros and cons while giving out review copies. How many reviews do you want for your game and who do you wish should review your game? Analyze what you do every step of the way. A reviewer who has less number of followers may not get a minimum expected reach and the same logic unfortunately also applies to reviewers with several followers. If at all, it is wise to give out review copies to established and renowned reviewers who have a massive following and all you offer is only a review copy for the post.

Twitter can be used more for engagement purposes with your audience, customer, and supporters. You can interact with them on many different levels through tweets, lists, hashtags, and communities. You can keep in touch with the board game community on Twitter as well which is very important to do as a board game publisher. Know who your fellow board game publishers or board game enthusiasts are, and support what they create. Spread the word about different board games and give a shoutout to others. It is only when you give, that you will receive!

Youtube is key to explaining everything there is to explain about your board game. Create a youtube channel for yourself where you can upload your videos. You can create videos on how to play the game, the rules, a playthrough, reviews, and much more. You can also seek reviews from other board gamers on Youtube. The reach via Youtube is far better, as a lot of people will end up watching Youtube board game reviews and like learning more about the game. Reviews by board game critics may also help you promote your game to a good number of people. While you do this, you need to be mentally prepared for honest feedback on the game by the critic and the audience too. And while you’re at it, do a little background check of all the reviewers to see who is best. When you finalize on a Youtube reviewer, you need to go through their past videos and see if they provide good quality and thoroughness in what they do. Acknowledge different criteria, and if they are actually conveying everything that needs to be conveyed. Remember that a good review comes out of the genuine effort of playing the game a number of times so that they know the game inside out. You cannot create a review based on playing a few times as different games have different nuances. Normally board games take about 5-10 iterations to have a good assessment and understanding of the game itself. It is absolutely fine to give fair and honest feedback, but the point is to check if the reviewer makes a genuine effort to play the game and then provide a detailed and descriptive review of it. Such reviewers can definitely speed up your sales! 

You can explore reviewer options based on country, language, and the number of followers. For example: If you are targeting customers from a certain country, getting a review from a well-known reviewer who speaks their language will be beneficial for your sales. Thus, you can look at German, French, Japanese, or any other language reviewers, according to your liking. It could also be based on geography as you can choose a renowned reviewer from Canada, the USA, Australia as well. If the person has more subscribers, the traction and visibility you get are automatically more. 

From a more generic marketing perspective, we believe that BoardGameGeek should be your beginning, means, and end. Every board gamer or board game enthusiast has a BoardGameGeek account, as it is the place to be at for everything board game. Hence, you can create a nice, original profile for your game here, and it will be one of the thousands of other board games. What makes BoardGameGeek stand out from other social media platforms? This platform only caters to a specific niche which is board games, unlike other social media. It is created as a form of focus to board gaming in the limelight. Everyone on BoardGameGeek is pretty much someone who is into board games in some way or another. You will find the most varied kinds of board games here, it’ll definitely surprise you! The first step when you plan to publish your board game is always to create a profile on BoardGameGeek and register your details. The key aspect of this platform is the community of board gamers that are on it. You need to be respectful and contribute to supporting others as much as you can. Being open to honest reviews and ratings that people give to your board game is a must. As a part of this community, it is important that you keep tabs on the forums, activities, blogs, videos, playthroughs, new games, and participate in them too. 

Another dimension that you might want to look into is the good, old, classic methods of marketing like posters, print, articles, and advertisements. Do not underestimate the power that these methods still hold, as they can always do wonders for your company. Newspaper articles spread the word about your board game to a very large audience as people still prefer reading the newspaper. Even online writeups paint a good picture of your product. If you have enough resources, you can invest in advertisements as it is a great means of publicity. Facebook & Instagram paid advertisements and influencer marketing are also something you can try out. Users are very high on these platforms and it will help you gain more sales/page visits, as you have the possibility to make your ad's audience targeted. Choosing the right influencer according to the target audience, with a huge following, is key. Before making any big marketing investment, make sure you analyze your expectations and budget the process. 

Crowdfunding campaigns bring creative projects into the public eye as well. It is a very good way to gain resources and build a community to back your board game up. This is a great place for first-time publishers to create a presence and get others to invest in their game. Before your project campaign releases, say on Kickstarter, you need to boost your board game with enough marketing upfront so that people have the slightest idea of what is to come. This will help you get enough attraction once your campaign starts. This campaign and its success will not decide whether your game is good or bad. It is just a way for you to put your game out into the world, to get more eyes towards it. Don’t take it to heart if the campaign fails in any way or things do not match up according to your expectations, because your game could still be worth enough to make it big. 

When you publish your board game or set up your own company, it is key to create your profiles on all social media platforms as well as BoardGameGeek, to make the most of the organic marketing and promotions available to you. Just creating the profiles isn't enough, you also need to stay active on them, by posting and increasing your engagement every single day. Repost any kind of engagement that takes place with your profile. When you produce your game box, do not forget to include a small note inside that shows gratitude to the customer for their purchase. Add your social media links and QR codes in the note and everywhere you can, so that it does not miss anyone’s eye. Be as creative as possible, the sky is your limit. Marketing is all about innovating towards what you want to achieve. The smallest of things you do can end up in a big result that you never expected. So, partake in everything you can. By the end of it, the more effort you put into marketing your board game and promoting it to your customers, the more fruit shall you reap. Remember that even if you have the most brilliant product, only the right level of marketing can take you to a higher pedestal. 

Stay tuned to our blogs to check out the next step on this rollercoaster on how to publish your own board game! 
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