The Forge Forums

General Forge Forums => Independent Publishing => Topic started by: Ben on July 17, 2010, 02:29:29 PM

Title: "...Prime the ol Marketing Pump" How does that work?
Post by: Ben on July 17, 2010, 02:29:29 PM
Something GuildofBlades said in a post on the Continued Sales thread (and as quoted above) got me wondering.  How does one create 'buzz' for ones books?  Where does one advertise?  How do you (and to quote GuilofBlades again) make "a constant marketing engine"?

Marketing at this point to me is somewhat of a mystery.  This seems like a very bad place to be because it seems that marketing is one of the most important aspects of publishing.  I might be wrong about that but that is my impression of it.  If any one with any experience on the subject would like to sound off about it, that would be greatly appreciated.

Title: Re: "...Prime the ol Marketing Pump" How does that work?
Post by: Malcolm Craig on July 18, 2010, 12:39:15 AM
'Marketing' is a huge area, so my comments below are very, very general. Are there any specific marketing questions that you'd like to discuss initially (maybe in light of the article I link to below)?

A lot of 'buzz', in my experience, comes from actual play. People talking enthusiastically about your game and having fun playing it is the most valuable marketing tool you can have.

Aside from that, coming up with engaging, concise marketing communications posted to a variety of locations can make some people aware of your game, but shouldn't be your sole means of communicating with your audience. Putting ads up on the appropriate sections of RPGnet and so forth are obvious things to do as part of an overall marketing strategy.

Do you have Twitter feed and Facebook page for your imprint/game? Recently, I've found these to be a valuable means of giving quick, timely information out to people who are interested in you and your game.

This article by Neil Gow ( offers some useful hints and tips on selling your game and creating some buzz.


Title: Re: "...Prime the ol Marketing Pump" How does that work?
Post by: Malcolm Craig on July 18, 2010, 12:44:32 AM
Oh something else.

Fred Hicks often talks a lot of sense when it comes to marketing your game. In these posts, he talks about building communities (, which links into the AP/Twitter/Facebook stuff mentioned above.


Title: Re: "...Prime the ol Marketing Pump" How does that work?
Post by: guildofblades on July 18, 2010, 09:09:03 AM
Well, as Malcolm suggests, marketing as a subject is extraordinarily broad and there are about a billion and one ways to go about it. I myself come from a marketing background, especially from a .com background, and have read oh about 40 books on the subject.

That said, the game industry is a different animal compared to just about any other field you could engage in doing marketing. There is no such thing as marketing 101 for the game industry. So when going about trying to figure out how to "market" to this market, my suggestion is to go grab the 4 or 5 most engaging books you can find on the subject, centering on small business, online and guerilla marketing. Knowing how to do marketing having the resources of, say, Microsoft behind you will obviously do you no good. Read the books and pick up the principles, though remember its the principles and concepts you will need to learn but its going to be entirely up to you to figure out how to apply them to our market and your games.

The book is a bit dated now (pre dot com) but its still a gem of a book for someone just starting to read about this stuff. Check out Growing a Business (Simon and Schuster 1987) by Paul Hawken.

Marketing is a very broad field that includes such things as advertising, merchandising, branding, public relations, market positioning and more. Each of those is a fairly encompassing topic upon itself. As a game company, almost by our very nature, we are small companies. Even Wizards of the Coast, the 8000lb  geurilla in the industry, is actually a small company on the grand scheme of things. Us small companies, and especially small publishers that range from a single part timer to a handful of employees have to go about marketing in ways very differently than companies that are flush with manpower, capital or both. We have to set up sustainable marketing programs and advertising programs. In a perfect world, these might even be programs that pay for themselves or are money makers themselves. With extremely limited resources the last thing you can afford to do is set up an advertising program or marketing endeavor that requires your constant input and upkeep as its time being taken away from implementing the next marketing concept and/or time away from producing your next product for sale or doing one of a hundred other things that your business might require to grow.

A couple examples:

Example #1: You run a series of paid print ads in numerous convention onsite booklets.

This is a bad choice of time spent (and from my experience, bad choice of money too, but that goes beyond this example). You have labor invested in numerous ways. Possibly altering the ad for each convention. Needing to speak with the coordinator of the convention booklet, arrange for money to sent, arrange for the ad to be sent, and ideally at least following up afterwards to make sure the convention actually happened and your ad actually ran. Worse, soon as the convention is done, so is your ongoing exposure to your target audience. Nothing is ongoing. To get more exposure, you have to do it all over again.

Example #2: A web site.

You still have some investment in money (sever or web hosting fees) and some labor (coding the darn thing), but once the initial capital and labor outlet is complete, you now have an asset that will remain in place and work for you. Now, how hard it will work for you ultimately goes into another stage, meaning you have to market the website to draw people in. Notice I said market the website not advertise it, because a website is almost like a product itself and needs the complete range of marketing approaches to promote it (even though its purpose itself is to promote your other products). In your effort to market your site you will run across multiple opportunities some of which will be one time advertising fire and forget with non sustainability, and some will add upon your overall marketing infrastructure and stay in place and continue to marketing the website. Everyting that is implemented that sticks around is adding to your marketing infrastructue and in my opinion adds a great deal more value in the long term, even if it has less bang in the short term directly after implementation.

Games themselves, those products which you sell and ideally have players out there playing...they too can be a part of our sustainable marketing infrasctructure. Games are social activities and require multiple peoples' participation. Every fan if your game that is actively playing it is also potentially actively trying to get other people to play it with them and is telling them about it. Get X copies of a game on the market and a certain percentage of people playing it on a semi ongoing basis, you've got that percentage of X out there as pieces of your sustainable marketing infrastructure. Get 10 times x out there, be it from one game publication or from 50 game publications, that piece of your marketing infrastructure will now be 10 times as powerful (or thereabouts). Knowing your products can serve as marketing pieces, you'll obviously want to design them in such a way that can be most effectively used in that manner.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group -
Guild of Blades Publishing Group -
1483 Online -

Title: Re: "...Prime the ol Marketing Pump" How does that work?
Post by: Callan S. on July 18, 2010, 10:15:18 PM
I'm not sure if I know any better, but from the really small scale you work the social angle of games.

It depends - do you see talking with people about your game as something you'd like to do, because you like your game, or work, perhaps alot of work or time spent, to sell a few damn units?