Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reaching Customers

Paradoxically, reaching customers is both harder and easier than ever before. Back in the Late Stone Age (as my sons would refer to it), prior to the Internet's rise as premier marketing channel, there weren't a whole lot of options for reaching your customers (or potential customers). For games, the action was in magazine advertising. You found the right magazines, put together an ad campaign, bought some space and hoped you'd get some results. Usually, unless you had some sort of direct mail ordering in your ad, you'd never really know how successful the ad was at reaching customers and (more importantly) getting them to buy your products. Aside from magazines, you might have some success with mailings, retail store advertising, or convention appearances, but they all paled next to the power and reach of a good magazine advertising campaign.

Here in the future, while we still wait for our flying cars, magazine advertising is now merely one way to reach customers... and it looks like a pale shadow of its former self. Now we have social network marketing, Twitter, web pages, email campaigns and newsletters, banner advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), paid search ads, SMS codes for mobile phones, in-game advertising... it's a vast array of choices. Unfortunately, it's not easy to sort through them, learn the technology, and determine the best route for your particular title.

A really small publisher (which, in my admittedly biased view, I will define here as one who does not have a full-time marketing employee) has a few choices about how to approach this. One would be picking some marketing tool and throwing some money or effort into it and see if you get results. Another would be learning more about at least one of those marketing tools, and then trying it out (or deciding it isn't for you). Another would be hiring some expertise; get a marketing consultant to advise you on the best course.

Here's the bottom line: If you don't want to spend your time learning about marketing to some extent, you will either be spending money on marketing randomly (or not spending at all), or you need to spend some money on a marketing person to help you make some choices. Some careful experimenting with your marketing dollars might show you a big return; it's certainly worth seeing if the spending you already budget for can be made more productive. Once you find something that works, do more of it.

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