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Author Topic: [Marketing] Looking ahead  (Read 8792 times)
dindenver
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Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


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« on: January 24, 2006, 05:26:00 PM »

Hi!
  My book has finally gotten to a point (still needs a good edit) where I am close to publishing. Eventually, I want to sell for profit. But I have no real customers to speak of and only a handful of people even know this game exists. So, what I need is advice from people who have done this before. I know that when it came to game design topics, I have been oppinionated and resistant to other ways of doing things. I can assure you I have no pre-conceived notions about marketing or sales and need advice from people who have made it work.
Criteria:
I have no budget. And no real potential of getting a budget. If I am lucky, in the near future, I MIGHT be able to scrounge up 100 or 200
I have no threashhold for being successful. Just being able to get the game played without losing money would be a limited success
I have no limit on timing. I probably can't afford to go to GenCon or any other big con and I have a preference to do it right rather than fast. Even if that means this version is free if it will entice people to pay for the next version.
I am not afraid of some hard work, if you point to an on-line resource with valid advice that is relevant to RPG publishing, I'll be glad to bone up on it.

So, how do I:
Advertise on the cheap?
Attract/target my ideal audience?
Actually sell pdfs/books?
Do it with little or no money?
Make money rather than lose money?

  I know I have outlined a broad topic, But this is an area where I have little to know experience, please help.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
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dindenver
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Don't Panic!


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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2006, 05:39:32 PM »

Hi!
  Oops, and any other advice that is relevant to this topic. Again, I am a total noob in this regard.
  Thanks
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
daMoose_Neo
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Posts: 890


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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2006, 08:31:54 PM »

A) GenCon isn't a holy grail, nor is it unreachable. $100 booth buy in when Ron makes a call, find someone to room with and a way in. Myself, I live in Michigan so its not too bad to get there, but I understand some people can't make it.
B) Local Cons. Approach the organizers, explain your position, a number are becoming more open to having authors present as a prestige thing "We have Author X For the show!"
C) For smaller publishers without the connections, time or notorioty, PDF sale sites are good exposure, but many have a sign-up fee between $40 and $100. Spring for it, get reviews out on it. Additional revenue and exposure.
D) Reviews are one of the best channels for sales. Take advantage, get them on reputable sites. No such thing as bad publicity, even when its free. Do a search for Satanis - as widely disliked as the material is, scathing reviews actually increased the authors sales.
E) Pimp it yourself at local stores if the owners will allow, but really only if you have a print book. Then, you could work out a consignment deal (Some dislike it, I know I have great luck with it on a local basis) whereby they sell the game and let you demo it, they get a cut (Me, I have an arrangement where they get $3 per deck sold of my $8 CCG) Generally you want a midway point between distro (usually 35% after a fullfillment house's take) and direct (40-50%), as most cases the retailer will make more than through distro AND they don't have the upfront investment (both good points for the wary).
F) Talk it up here and elsewhere, but pratically. Myself, I jump into d6 discussions because of a sweet mechanic I have in my Imp Game RPG. A 2d6 spread is small enough that I, as a designer, can account for most all occurances, and provides a wide range of results for the players. Plus, d6's, they're common enough, no one has to hunt for them.
Now, poor example, but it sequed from talking specifically about a hypothetical problem to my design. Posts similar to that, that actually HELP the designer as opposed to my shoddy example, put the game in their mind so that when they're looking at other games for a fun factor or a research factor they look more closely at your game because hey, they know something about it.
G) Key20 or Indie Press Revolution for print products. AMAZING people. Wonderful. Jason at Key20, whom I deal with, is worth every penny. Aside from dealing with all of the logistics of orders, they represent the product to distribution which is IMPOSSIBLE to break into by yourself (I know, tried that too). For some people however distro is not the way to go. Myself, it is, I need the wide user base for my CCG to succeed. Signing is free if they'll take you (most don't have stringent requirements anyway), and they do all of the legwork for a percentage of sales. Take the latest issue of Alliances GameTrade magazine and pull up the "N" section, look for Neo Productions. Yup, that panel there for "Final Twilight - Entropy Expansion Decks" is Jason working hard for me.
H) Aldo Ghiozzi's GameBuyer magazine if you through distro is an excellent resource as well. Free product editorials, essentially a release announcement, is included and mailed to 3000+ stores, distributors, and industry peeps.
I) Press releases. So many ways to do those. GamingReport, RPGNews, Ogre Cave, and many many more places. Look around.

WHEW! That about maxes out my personal knowledge tank on this field. Anyone else?
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Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
guildofblades
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Posts: 297


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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2006, 09:32:56 PM »

Nate,

Where abouts in Michigan are you? I think I have seen a number of other small press publishers and PDF publishers as having been from Michigan as well. The Guild is located in Davison, MI (thats by Flint). I have been wondering if it wouldn't be worth while to round everyone up at least once to see what sort of cooperative efforts could be forged.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Publishing Group
http://www.guildofblades.com
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Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Publishing Group
http://www.guildofblades.com
dindenver
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Don't Panic!


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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2006, 09:46:56 PM »

Hi Ryan!
  I've been to the Guild website. You guys seem like you have a handle on Marketing, any advice for a noob like me?
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
dindenver
Member

Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


WWW
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2006, 09:58:34 PM »

Hi Nate!
  Thanks for that cool info. The mention of GenCon was merely to say, I don't have a GenCon oriented deadline. Maybe if/when I do a few local cons and get a routine/plan down, I'll set my eyes on larger cons, but right now there is no set deadline based on a Con date.
  Does GameBuyer have a web site? I don't know anything about distro, is there any pitfalls I can avoid (I will check out Key20 when my game is ready for primetime though)?
  Anyone else have any advice?
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
guildofblades
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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2006, 10:27:12 PM »

Hi Dave,

Well, I think our approach tends to differ from many people here. Most here I have seen advise going to many conventions and demoing or running as many events for your game as possible. That may in fact be a good approach for your game. Just depends on what your target audience is for your game.

That, of course, is the absolute number one thing you need to figure out. What is the profile of the persons most likely to find your game interesting. Figure that out, then youhave to set about what are th ebest ways to reach those people. Game conventions might be the way.But maybe not.

For sure you will want to get a website up and make sure it is designed (keyword, text and layout) to get strong rankings on search engines for the few most important of the buzzwords (keywords) you want associated with you game. Go get your company and your game listed on as many semi useful directories as humanyly possible.

If you design your web page to show banners you can then utilize a banner rotation script (such as adrotator.com or something like it) to run ads across your site. Some banners you will want to market your own deals or promotions. The rest you should enroll into targeted banner exchanges. That way the more traffic you drive to your website the more impressions of your own banners you can get out there in front of other people. Now, this will NOT be a realistic means of drawing people to yoru site. Banners get pretty bad click thru rates. But it will put your name out there more as the first valley in a varied marketing push. Make annoucements on every related news site for any new pre order specials, official release, special features or sales, etc, you offer for your game. Some companies have seen skyrocketing sales my working media relations to get an article about their games in a major newspaper or other major media outlet.

If you are going to release more than one product for your game, or multiple games, you will want to create a brand. If you don't know what that means, definately go pick up a book or two on the subject. You can also get some good books on marketing in general at your local barns & noble or borders store for under $20 per. Some of the books are ultra generic and just gloss over the basics while filling pages with fairly self evident material, but a few books contain some real gems.

In marketing a few things are absolute musts.

1) In forging your brand you will need to figure out what the brands value proposition is. That, in short is, in as few words as possible, define clearing why your product is superior and why the consumer should buy it.

2) Make sure that value prosition is communicated in everything you do. Product annoucements, website, advertisements, promotional hand outs, etc.

3) If you are going to spend money on advertising, it MUST generate positive results. That means, if you spend money on an ad program and it doesn't generate more profit than it costs, stop doing it right away. Regardless weather absolutely everyone else tells you its somethig you have to do. If you can't make money going to Gen Con to promote your product, then don't. Don't do full page advertisements in magazines either unless they undeniably net you a profit. If you look hard there will always be another way to achieve what you want. But you will have to think outside of the box and be willing to spend however much time is neccessary to find the right approaches as making it work.

4) If you are going to agressively advertise, make darn sure you are putting a message out there that will turn heads. And I mean seriously turn heads. For example, we are about to begin an advertising campaign that basically says "Board Games for a BUCK! We're so confident you will like our games, we will sell you the first one for just $1."

Its difficult for me to tell you more than that because, well, what works in marketing is differet for every company. There is no single canned plan for success. The best you can do is make sure you are well educated on the principles of marketing, then begin to apply them to your own company in a manner that fits with your products and your goals.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Publishing Group
http://www.guildofblades.com
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Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Publishing Group
http://www.guildofblades.com
dindenver
Member

Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


WWW
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2006, 10:33:57 PM »

Hi!
  Thanks Ryan! Also, do you know of any specific books you would recommend that are relevant to RPG marketing. I definitely don;t have a budget to just try random books at B&N or whatever, lol
  Thanks again though, that was some good information.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
guildofblades
Member

Posts: 297


WWW
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2006, 10:50:12 PM »

You can probably begin by finding a few important marketing tutorials online.

Once you have the basic principles of marketing down, then you can troll for books to find expert (or differing opinions) on aspects of it that you want to delve further into. I generally buy more books on marketing looking for that gem of a new concept or approach that I just have never thought of before. One gem of idea generate you multiple sales at the very least, so really, each books can pay for itself pretty quickly. Just don't try to move too quickly. Absorb what you can and start slow. I didn't learn this over night either, been doing it 11 years now and am still learning new tricks.

As for RPG specific marketing books, gawds no. Thankfully. In truth, you should avoid that. Frankly, the "conventional wisdoms" that somehow manage to circulate around this industry are just shameful sometimes. You are far better off learning basic marketing and business ideas as they apply to the broader world, then figuring out how to best modify (downsize) them to fit our tiny market.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Publishing Group
http://www.guildofblades.com
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Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Publishing Group
http://www.guildofblades.com
daMoose_Neo
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2006, 08:34:36 AM »

Ryan: Ludington, on the west coast, nearly a straight shot ^_^ My partner and I were looking at setting up a "mini-con" sometime this coming fall, try to get Michigander publishers to hang out and pimp the wares.

Dave: Drop a line to jason at Key20 or I know the guys from IPR hang out here, maybe one of them will catch the thread and chime in. Otherwise, heed Ryan. As cool as seeing your game advertised in InQuest or Scrye or something else might be, I know one of those ads costs me more than a whole run of one of my games. Money is better spent, for me, to print new stuff than it is to pimp older stuff.
Only other reccomendation might be if you have a community college near by, sit in on some of the marketing courses if the instructor would allow, or hit up the instructor for what they think are good resources to look into.
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Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
Matt Machell
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2006, 09:04:51 AM »

Dave, I wrote this for someplace else, but it's kinda relevant:

I've been observing the various indie games and trying to isolate which bits of their strategy (planned or unplanned) help to build up to a solid set of sales and recognition. Partially as I'm hoping to do something similar with Covenant. From what I've observed over the last few years, these are the key factors:

-Grabby premise. If it can't be explained, and sound cool, in two sentences, then it's not grabby enough. More to the point if you can't roll off the core concept on demand when asked about it, then people will pick up on it (how bad does "um...like D&D but not" sound). You should probably have one memorable and unique mechanic too, so people go "Oh yeah, the game with X".

-Get the game played lots: a) By playtesters b) At Con demos c)by people who have gaming blogs d)by active forum posters. This will generate interest and buzz.

- Post early and often about your game on forums, well before it's out of playtest. Particularly indie game design. Jump on anything vaguely relevant on the Forge or rpg.net, answer the posting, have your game in your sig. Only add some promotion about your game on if it's really relevant.

- Get some enthusiastic people onboard with the playtest. They'll sell the game for you by their enthusiasm. These people will leap into relevant forum threads and advertise your work for you. Since they're perceived as more neutral, people are more receptive to them than they would be you.

-Get actual play mentioned as often as possible. It's really the only thing that sells a game.

-Get in with vocal people who have a similar interest. Support each-others games.

-Reviews only help if they come from people with a rep, or they obviously played the game, or if they are the first thing that turns up on Google when somebody searches for Game X Review. If you have all 3, it might do half the job of a good AP or "Sell Me" thread.

-Matt
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JakeVanDam
Member

Posts: 38


« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2006, 09:30:23 PM »

As recomended, I checked my local bookstore for books on marketing. I wound up with Marketing Kit for Dummies. It goes over basic concepts and methods based on the author's experience in the marketing field, and includes a disc of pre-formatted files that you can adapt for ads, as well as a few marketing effectiveness evaluations and customer surveys. It has a lot of real-world examples, and most of the concepts he covers aren't that hard to apply to games. I'd reccomend it as a start, but, like most of the For Dummies books, it doesn't go into too many details, so you may need to pick up something more advanced later.
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dindenver
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Don't Panic!


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« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2006, 10:15:02 PM »

Hi!
  Thanks for the suggestion, I'll try and check it out.
  Ryan pointed me here, probably worth it to check out:
http://www.marketingprofs.com/
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
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