Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Saturday, October 24, 2009

7 Tips for Adventure Game Marketing

Let's talk about marketing non-electronic games for a bit, and specifically the non-mass market games that comprise the "adventure gaming industry."

The adventure gaming industry is a tougher place than ever for marketing efforts. Roleplaying games, board games, card games, miniatures rules... these are generally sold in specialized gaming stores. Some of these products are sold in bookstores and occasionally mass-market stores, but those are rare. The number of full-line gaming stores has been shrinking, and not coincidentally average sales numbers through retail have dropped, and dedicated gaming magazines have disappeared or transmogrified into websites. So the obvious places to market such games (magazines sold to your core demographic) either don't exist or are far more expensive than companies in this business can afford, for the most part. What does that leave for your marketing efforts?

1) Convention marketing. If you've been in the industry for any time at all, you realize how much money you can make at Gen Con and Origins. Selling your products can make enough to cover your attendance costs at smaller conventions too. Even if you don't manage to cover your costs, the benefits of being there can be substantial. Demoing your games, contests, running games, sponsoring games, care and feeding of the fan base... and an opportunity to bring in new fans. Consider ads in convention booklets, posting or handing out flyers, free game giveaways, or other special events. Whatever you do, try to track the results. For instance, if you put an ad in a con program when you don't attend the con, put in a special offer or web address so you can track the response you get. Then you'll know if that $100 you spent brought in at least that much business, and whether you'd consider doing it again.

2) Social networking. If your game doesn't have a Facebook page, it should. Use all the social networking tools to help your fan base connect with you and with your games. The goal is to generate more sales by getting your fans to spread the word to their friends. These tools can also let your fans know about new releases and special deals you're offering.

3) Demo teams. These have worked well for many companies for a long time. If you've got some devoted fans, harness their enthusiasm into attending local conventions (and retail stores) to demonstrate your products. Those social networking tools are great for helping to organize this. You'll need to put together a demo kit, but all of the items in a demo kit will be useful to you in other ways.

4) Search engine marketing. Yes, time to get technical. You can buy some keyword search terms in Google or Yahoo or Bing, and they'll bring traffic to your online store. You can control how much you spend, and it's relatively easy to figure out what your bidding limit should be. (Let's say you have 100 sales per month with an average value of $25 per transaction, and you get 5,000 unique visitors to your web site each month. So each unique visitor is worth 50 cents to you...which means you certainly should bid less than that for your search terms.) Research your keywords; some tools can be found here; your best bet is this. The Google Keyword Tool will tell you how many times the term you put in has been searched in the last month. There's tons more to know about this subject, but properly used you can make a lot of money with search word advertising.

5) Work the web site. Spend some quality time on your web site to add features that attract fans and help spread the word. Discussion boards require moderation, but you may be able to find a trustworthy supporter to help with this. Start a blog about your products. Respond to questions. Provide links to additional resources that your fans might find of interest. All of these things will help improve your traffic and thus enhance your online store sales. Which brings us to the online store... a vital component in your strategy as retail stores become scarcer. Don't undercut the retailers in your store, but you can provide ebooks and additional downloads for your games (free or at a small cost). You can also bundle products... some companies are providing free ebooks for people who have purchased the printed version in the store, through a code printed in the book. Podcasts, videos, CafePress t-shirts... there's a long list of things you can do through your web site, and it's growing all the time. This can be a worthwhile place to put some marketing efforts.

6) Cross-marketing. When you want to expand your fan base, look to fans of other products that are similar. Perhaps you can work with other publishers, not against them. Cross-over scenarios may help sell your products to fans of other games. Try to see if you can exchange links with other web sites, or ads in games. Usually small publishers don't produce enough products to exhaust their fan's buying ability, so it can pay off to work with other publishers. It's even better if you can find a related fan base for a product that's not competitive. Imagine putting in some ads or offers for your fantasy RPG with some other company's fantasy miniatures or action figures... find a way to make it profitable for both sides and you may have a deal.

7) Creativity. Unleash the same creativity you put into game design into your marketing. Don't just hand out flyers for your game at a con; have someone dressed in a costume relevant to your game hand out flyers. Or better still, stage a costumed event that showcases your game, outside the con on the first day while everyone is lined up to get their badges (gotta love those captive audiences!). Make a YouTube video that does something outrageous and interesting (Will it Blend?) to get people looking at your game. Auction off a special gold-plated edition on eBay. Pretend your little boy is in an escaped balloon with a copy of your game... no, maybe that's too creative. But you get the idea.

These are just a few places to start... I haven't even mentioned package design, advertising, PR, channel marketing and a host of other basic marketing moves that are worthy of your time and attention.

1 comment:

  1. Nice.

    Keep up the good work.

    I also use my twitter posts to keep people up to date on what I am doing.

    I know the newspage of a fansite sends alot of traffic to my small site, and I am often frustrated at not being able to control when it updates.