Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Creating Story Lines for Marketing

The handy tools of social marketing make it inexpensive to put a message out there, but problems remain. First, social marketing needs messages that are interesting; the message won't be passed along unless it has some interest to readers, and the more interesting it is the greater the reach will be. Second, you have to maintain the message over time; one single tweet will soon be forgotten, even if it reaches a large audience. The implication is that you have to develop a story line for your product in order to create visibility through social marketing.

In this context, your "story line" is merely the series of messages that you want to transmit and how they connect to your product. The story line may be inherent in the product, or it may be about things external to the product, such as the company, the creators, the creation process, or the impact of the product on some users.

Examples: Let's say you have a simple arcade game about a squirrel gathering nuts and evading various hazards. Rather plain, nothing terribly interesting here, right? Here's where the creativity comes into play. Perhaps you can create a more interesting back story for the squirrel... something humorous, perhaps linked to current events... maybe he's on his way to American Idol tryouts, or he's auditioning for a job with the CIA in order to infiltrate Iran . Then you can create a series of posts about this, and point back to the game. (Ideally the game itself would have some connection, visual or otherwise, with this narrative you're crafting.) For external narratives, perhaps you might talk about endangered squirrel populations and how you will use this game to raise awareness, or perhaps donate some of the proceeds of the game to a wildlife preservation group. Maybe you connect the game to different fictional squirrels, or other wildlife used in gaming, or a popular cartoon. A different tack entirely might be your personal story about how you came to create the game, or your company's narrative about how it arose in a kitchen to be the #1 squirrel arcade game creators worldwide.

You may even decide to use multiple narratives over time, in order to keep awareness up and help spread the message in different directions. As you can see, developing such marketing narratives is a creative endeavor in itself. (The astute reader will also see that developing the marketing narratives in connection with developing the game itself can lead to better interaction between the game and the marketing, with better results for both.) Once you've developed a narrative, you then have to determine how to break it down into useful chunks for social media, connect the different social media together, graft in some sales incentives into the narrative, plan how this will proceed over time, and then alter your plans in response to the feedback you get...Is it a lot of work? Yes. What's the alternative? Waiting around for your game to be "discovered" among hundreds of thousands of other things... not a great alternative, is it?

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