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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 67 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Getting the Word Out  (Read 4190 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2007, 01:45:02 PM »

Hi Seth,

Remind me - have you put these specific points of advice into practice?

The reason I ask is that they look, to me, fairly generic, and I don't know of any independent role-playing game which has benefited from them. Certain versions which have worked very well differ slightly but significantly from your suggestions - for instance, the typical and useful practice among many independent games is to provide free advertisement, often without even expecting an exchange.

However, I could be merely suffering from ignorance. If you've utilized these techniques for a game you've published, please let me know, and provide links so we can see how you did it.

Best, Ron
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Seth M. Drebitko
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« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2007, 06:01:07 PM »

  None of what I have to say has been put into practice by myself though I am usually flipping through plenty of books on market both on and offline, during my down times at work. One of the most universal of all concepts though is retention, which bigger companies are able to do well based on the fact that hundreds of users for example are on wotc’s boards all day, and they can pay people just to site there and write free articles for the purpose of drawing people in. Small business’s can’t afford to keep up on this wide berth of content, and need to find alternative methods of retention. Though I myself can’t speak from experience I’ll try and explain in more detail the major problems faced in spreading the word, and how they can be avoided, as I can’t give personal examples.


Over saturation: Lets face it nearly 1 out of 10 gamers wants to or has made a game, its probably one of the most crowded markets out there. Immediately the second some one starts looking for a game your at a disadvantage and need to give some one a reason to consider you beyond a pretty picture, and description.   
  To bypass this you need to give them a taste that pushes them over the edge. Determine the value of the products you offer and general what is found within and create a similar product to give away, and hype it up to be a free introductory offer easily claiming it as equal or greater value than the rest of your products. This creates a risk free way for you and your customer to feel one another out, I have to say I would say 8 out of ten times I see a free preview product I probably download it.

Retention: You have used your free offer to hook some one into giving you a chance but how do you keep them to come back, instead of just forgetting your free gift in a field of pdfs…you don’t. Why wait for them to possibly stumble upon you again instead go straight to them, through an opt in e-zine fair enough in exchange for an entire free product. Though some people will (even though they gave you permission to) feel intruded upon by your emails, so you need to give them a reason to want the emails. An example e-zine that you might want to send would be something along these lines:

  Dear Ron, (some email accounts can set it up to insert peoples names)

  I just finished up a great supplement for Gears and Cogs (GaC) the main book to that great product we started you out with Free! at the beginning of our correspondence, and I had a couple ideas that came to me that just did not seem to fit in the product. I have created these as two great articles that could fit into really any game that lacks a bit of political intrigue. Swing by the article section (link) and check them out as well as some other great resources I have worked on. I would elaborate but I have to run swing by the site (link) to check out the free articles section. Oh and before I head out one last thing, as a promotional thing for that great new supplement I mentioned, I am doing a free give away the full details will be in the next e-mail so keep your eyes peeled!

Regards Seth
Wizards of the East Coast
Putting the Wicked back in Sweet



  The importance of the above was that it was short, to the point, mentioned but never pushed the product, and made them want to actually read the next email after all you giving stuff away and they may not have even bought something yet.  Where I gave the example of affiliate cash could come in with a mix of links provided on other materials here and their seeded with affiliate links for soundtracks, and other books that may fit the mood of your game. Another tool could be an email every so often that directs to a particularly interesting topic on your forum trying to getting discussion stirred up there, as indie game forums seem to be stagnant all to often.

 Over all like I said this is all things I have studied marketing techniques, as well as having been in insurance, and loan sales, but no real examples I can show. I will be (once all my paper notes are in digital form) testing out this concept, as well as many other techniques so I will make sure to keep people in the loop as to the progress.

Regards, Seth 
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2007, 06:33:18 PM »

Hi Seth,

I appreciate the answer. I do not want to give the impression that I dismiss your sources and training, nor that I am saying that these techniques do not work.

I do suggest, based on observation, that these marketing techniques you're talking about are not well-suited for independent game publishing at this time. A number of people have tried to put such things into action for role-playing; many of them currently run fulfillment houses or are starting up their fifth or sixth game company. None of them have benefited as much as the typical independent publisher who relies more on plain old game quality, word of mouth, positive personal internet presence, and mutualistic promotion in a cottage-industry spirit, as I've described earlier in the thread. The points I make in the current thread Guerilla and viral marketing tactics may be relevant as well.

So, it's great that you've presented some of these ideas for all of us to see and consider. One might even put aside my paragraph immediately above; this isn't about whether I'm right or anyone's right about what techniques should be employed. It is important, though, for the thread topic to be most useful, for it to be clear that you're not basing these suggestions on direct experience with their role in successful game publishing. Thanks again for working with me to arrive at that clarity.

Best, Ron
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2007, 06:36:23 PM »

<Cross-posting with Ron, here. Perhaps he didn't completely pre-empt me...>

Seth: I totally have my consumer hat on when I'm saying this (so I'm just giving a personal impression, not critiquing in-depth), but I'd get the hell out of Dodge if I was bashed with that kind of duplicitous-sounding marketing emails. I'm pretty sure that it's a cultural question to some degree, though; Finland is rather more restrained in advertising culture than the US ever, so for all I know an American customer would be all enthusiastic about the free lunch and promises of dessert, too.

Other than that, I can see some sense in the abstract concept of brand retention. I'd be wary of thinking that any single indie publisher could create truly meaningful tools for that (apart from personal contact and designer name from prior products, which both seem to retent for years), but then, when you look at the scene in total, we're not doing that bad; the community is pretty good at producing a constant stream of material and interaction that enforces the idea that roleplaying is a fun, rewarding hobby one might even spend some money on, now and then. I don't know that it's efficient to try to compete with that community-based marketing drive by trying to secure and mark off a section of the audience for your own specific product brand; you'd be spending a lot of effort to get a person who already reads the Forge or Story Games, say, to follow your own site as well. All well and good, but why invest effort in competing when you could just let (or even help) community sites like that keep up the audience hook-up and then just post about your product there when it's done?

All that said, I do have an email news letter for our little indie game import project. Mostly I use it 3-4 per year to notify regular customers of any new products when they arrive, and of any new projects we're working on. It's a strictly low-priority thing for me, though, I'm just doing it for the folks who explicitly want to know what I'm working on, rpg-wise. There are, like, 20 people in Finland who prefer to regularly get new indie games from us instead of ordering overseas, so they benefit from getting a notification whenever I get around to ordering more games.
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guildofblades
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« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2007, 09:22:42 AM »

>>I do suggest, based on observation, that these marketing techniques you're talking about are not well-suited for independent game publishing at this time. A number of people have tried to put such things into action for role-playing; many of them currently run fulfillment houses or are starting up their fifth or sixth game company.<<

Hi Ron,

My wife, who is a computer programmer, has been working with us to design our own custom CRM (Customer Relations Management) program. Its been done for a while now except for debugging, which is always long and tedius. Basically it is a system that takes all order information from Paypal and after transaction feeds it back to our server where we take and save the info. It checks to see if a customer is a first time customer or repeat customer. If first time customer it creates an account for that user, based off their e-mail address. A customer then gets a "thank you" e-mail, reminds them of their account user name and how to login to their account on our system. The customer will be able to login to the system which will have complete order history from us, and we'll be able to quickly inform the customer on that system if they have the most recent edition of a game, etc. They will be able to change their mail settings, create a more extensive profile (like age, birthday, interests, etc).

We are working on making a recommended products function to recommend other products a customer might like based on the products they have already purchased from us. This we will be able to use several ways. Attach recommendations on the thank you e-mails that accompany an order. Do occasionally marketing blasts when we have no product info to announce and make it so only customers likely to care about that particular product will get it. Send customer appreciation coupon offers, discounts, free PDFs, etc, and be able to send customers various kinds of birthday promotions. Later on, as we get more sophisticated in the opening of retail stores and/or working with existing local retailers, we'll be able to use customer zip code data to promote game events, new store openings, etc.

On the backend, the CRM system will also update our inventory systems in real time. Once we complete the process of making our inventory live anyway. One step at a time. Eventually, if the concept of decentralized production can be made to work and where each store produces most of the Guild of Blades games it needs, plus some portion extra for stockpiling a supply to fill wholesale orders, this system can be expanded to keep live inventories at all store locations and to spread production needs around among the various locations.

I do agree that automated mailing and marketing systems are NOT a replacement for word of mouth, but I do think they can be used for extra communication with customers and if used properly, to guide interested persons to locations both online and offline where the customer can have a greater chance of interacting with the existing communities for the games.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Publishing Group
http://www.guildofblades.com
http://www.1483online.com
http://www.thermopylae-online.com
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Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Publishing Group
http://www.guildofblades.com
pells
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« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2007, 06:24:52 PM »

I'd like to address some of Adam's "more general" issues, but I'd like to mention maybe a couple of things about, let's called it, "viral issue".

There are many ways today to "distribute the information" : RSS feed, newsletter subscription ... We shouldn't aim at distributing this information to the largest audience, but to the right audience. There are many ways today to track them, to know better your audience, even if they don't buy anything. Tools like google analytic are very, very useful. You need them to monitor your website and audience behavior. And, in accordance to your audience and your product, you just need to determine "when" is the best.

Quote
So, what am I missing/forgetting in either department? Helping make a purchase, and getting them to visit regularly?

Let's take a look at your "shopping list" and how you manage it.

Quote
1): Core book versions of the character sheets, PDF
2): Player's Guide versions of the character sheets, PDF
On single file ? I guess you need to use them more than that. And try to have an elegant character sheets.

Quote
3): Game Introduction, PDF of the actual core book, pages 5-19. Gives people a good idea of what the game world is about, and of the book quality, without giving away too much.
Is that really the best way to give me an idea of what the world is about ? You're ready to give away 20 pages, but don't give those. Write a short introduction to the game and present me something that I will like to follow. Present one of your faction, some art. Put character sheets in there. Convince me to read your introduction.

Quote
4): Short tutorial on basic game mechanics
5): Short tutorial on Special Abilities mechanics
6): Short tutorial on Ritual Magic mechanics
What would be those exactly ? I would suggest something very useful. In a strong context. In the ritual magic tutorial, present me a faction, show the art, show the character sheets. Those are products by themselves. Do something beautiful, with regular updates, and I'd gladly download them. And I would want to be kept informed of the release dates by the way. Maybe another suggestion : try to link what you give away or maybe try to change the color a lot. Maybe those tutorial could used characters and factions we are already introduced to.
AP reports could be a good idea too. Short ones, not only written by you. Could be used as FAQ too. The thing is here, anyway, you'll need AP posts, but then again, it's all somehow linked.
You play, write down an AP post, put it in your blog (with a RSS feeds), use them on forums, put them into your product. There are worth it.

Quote
Debating:
1): Links to other, like minded websites (gaming or otherwise)
2): Reviews, of my stuff done by others (when/if they occur)
3): FAQ
And in the sense of the forum mentioned earlier, have you thought of using some kind of "AP reports central" ? Anytime you play test with some people, you ask them to write an AP report on some site (by offering a list, I guess), but ask them to post the AP first on your website, with the mention "cross posted on site XXX". The idea is not that the conversation occurs on your site, but it might be good for reference. From an advertising point of view, but also for you.

And if I may point out, whatever you do can always be getting the word out. Even at the design stage.
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