Make or Break

Ask any developer what they think of their marketing department and you’ll be guaranteed a flood of expletives and death threats. The common knowledge dictates that marketing departments have a disproportionate and destructive say in the design of your product; stories of interesting ideas being shot down, due to the uncertainty of their success in an unproven market, or numerous me-too design changes based on today’s best-selling competitors are the standard. Indeed,it would seem a lot of games are designed entirely to the marketing department’s wishes, so that they have a known entity to sell, rather than the onerous task of actually trying to market something new and potentially exciting. These stories are obviously vastly exaggerated, though I’m sure some have a kernel of truth to them, but it is certain that most developers view their marketing departments with hatred and scorn. Japan, thankfully, seems a different story, with sales and marketing brought in when the project is presentable, so they can learn what it is they have to sell; the way marketing is supposed to work. Either way, and however much we’d like to ignore it, marketing is possibly the most important aspect of your success. The designers may think it’s their bold new ideas, the artists their pretty pictures, the coders their bleeding edge technology and the producers their sexy, moody fashion shoots for the popular media, but all those mean nothing without the proper marketing behind it.

The crux of that last statement is, of course, proper marketing. And as an up and coming, God-willing, new independent venture, it’s something that has occupied our minds to a large extent. It has not been a direct influence on our business plan, but it is obviously something that needs to be addressed, because without it we might as well not bother.

Of the various marketing strategies, the media overkill is not something many can afford. It’d be nice to have our titles splattered across huge billboards, aired during the Superbowl and tied in with a MacDonald’s Happy Meal, but unless I travel back in time and invest heavily in Google, it’s unlikely to ever happen.

Then there is the “all publicity is good publicity” tactic, of which I am no great admirer. Abhorrent marketing campaigns like these are plenty in our industry, thinking particularly of the late Acclaim’s horrendously puerile “name your baby Turok” and “all speeding tickets paid for by us” scandals, but would include, in my book, the pushing of spokespeople like the rather obvious female pro-gaming groups, the hiring of porn stars and the disastrously sad Jade Raymond fallout. Yes, such tactics get your name splashed around, but bring with it a decent amount of loathing and bashing, not to mention nasty personal attacks that can really hurt both the person and the product. To this day John Romero has failed utterly to make me his bitch.

This interesting interview with independent developer Cliff Harris pretty much seems to hit the nail on the head.

“…if you sell games, and you don’t know which pages on your website have the lowest bounce rates, if you don’t know what the average CPC is for your ads and do A/B testing to increase the CTR…. and much more importantly, if you have no idea WTF I’m talking about, then you are quite simply losing sales to people like me, who study this stuff :D.”
Marketing is part fine art but mostly a matter of hard figure crunching. As Mr. Harris points out it’s no use spending a certain amount of money on advertising and hoping that’ll do the trick. Constant vigilance, adjusting your marketing according to short-term results and basically, spending a large amount of time and not an inconsiderable percentage of your profits on it would appear the minimum requirement, and is therefore a very important aspect of any independent venture but one that many forget about.

Our industry is a young one, and filled with gusto. Too many people still believe it’s the ideas that count, or that pouring your heart and soul into a project will result in a quality product that will sell itself. And though a passion for the job seems indispensable, it means nothing if people don’t know about it. And though it is something I have a deep personal interest in, our necessary focus on future marketing and other business strategies does distract from actual development. Starting a new business requires participants to wear many hats, but all these tasks compete with each other for time and attention, and with only so many hours in the day it’s often difficult to find a balance.

Don’t despair, though, I know more about marketing than I’ve let on. This blog is a terrible example, with badly placed GoogleAds, resulting in disastrous CTRs, equally badly placed adverts for my CafePress store, which in itself is in dire need of updating, and a readership that has been entirely built up by word of mouth. Luckily, the blog is a hobby, something for myself to satisfy my Muse, and readership, though very welcome, was always somewhat of a side issue. For a business however these sorts of things need to be ironed out and perfected. Every single dollar, or Yen rather, and every minute of time spent on marketing must be worthwhile. In the short term that is a matter of experimenting and learning from those who have gone before us, like Mr. Harris, but in the long-term it’s a constant struggle with results, CTRs, page hits, pick up rates, metrics, time, effort and money. Otherwise we might have to fall back on plan B: make a game so insensitive and abhorrent, that it will be covered on Fox News and the Daily Mail and get our names out there, and possibly land us with a jihad.
I’d prefer proper marketing, though.

17 comments:

  1. haha, the lack of any comments on this post says it all, doesn't it?

    Most developers have zero knowledge about marketing hence a tendency to ignore it. It's hard having to be always vigilant and when it comes to non-creative stuff developers are lazy by nature and nobody actually cares about learning marketing properly or at the very least, have a good idea of what entails, :)

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  2. Thzumbs up for the article but ypou are getting the very important semantic issue wrong: what you are talking is PROMOTION.

    MARKETING means choosing what thype of game TO MAKE, WHO WILL BUY IT, how to PORMOTE it, how to PRICE IT - more or leass everything you would probably put under "development minus graphic, music and coding".

    It's a common missconception that MARKETING = PROMOTION, but no, MARKETING is much more and if done correctly it is the most important part of any product. Probably a lot of your work is really what should be called MARKETING also - if we want to stick with the academic definition of it.

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  4. 小吃餐車加盟連鎖「一條龍的創業模式」複製成功開店經驗
    更新日期:2009/08/25 17:19

    (中央社訊息服務20090825 16:19:17)大環境不景氣,工作難找,有不少人就想乾脆自己創業當老闆。為強化國內創業能量,五路財神開店總部於8月20日-9月20日舉辦「2009夢幻小餐車創業成果展」歡迎蒞臨參觀。針對國內一窩蜂創業加盟潮,餐車達人陳滌五總監提醒創業者,加盟不失為一條創業捷徑,但若選擇加盟,品牌知名度、產品獨特性及是否擁有差異化優勢就顯得格外重要。
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    北半球ではプライバシーマーク 取得の1年のブライダルエステ早漏では1年の前半に秋がある。サマータイム実施国ではサマータイムが終了し、時計の針を1時間戻すファッション 通販となる。

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    稲などの穀物や果物が実る時期であり、成熟などを看板する。

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  6. カタログギフトのリンベルでは、結婚引出物や結婚内祝い、出産内祝い、香典返ししなどの冠婚葬祭やお中元・お歳暮に最適な、贈られた方がお好みの商品を選べるカタログギフトをご用意しています。
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    ペット 葬儀 川崎の移動火葬(出張火葬)対応のペット 葬儀 東京動物火葬/葬儀会社です。
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    ベネフィットライフなら首都圏の不動産仲介手数料0円が最大無料でお得。ハウジングスカイでは、東京都内すべての物件の仲介手数料無料必ず無料or半額(法定上限比)になります。
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    保土ヶ谷 不動産豊かな自然と利便性を両立した大島・不動産 葛飾区砂町を中心に江東区のレジャーと不動産をご紹介します。不動の人気エリア「東横線」。渋谷・川崎市 不動産横浜に直通のアクセスと整った横浜市戸塚区 不動産住環境が魅力の人気沿線です。人気の港北ニュータウンを通る「市営地下鉄線グリーンライン」「市営地下鉄線ブルーライン」、横浜市旭区 不動産沿線都市の開発の進む注目の「JR横浜線」の3路線の沿線不動産特集をお送りします。
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    コストダウンの味方「オプティマキッドの名刺 激安」は両面カラー・高級厚紙・名刺作成ラミネート防水加工のハイクオリティです

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  7. そんで帰って、一人寂しいからゲイ動画紹介所って寝よ・・・と思ったら直アドからメールが。
    さてさて、今回はどーかなと思っていたら、エロマンガはわからないけど、5回まで無料出会いなので、ヒットは打たれてるみたいだけど、要所は締める粘りのピッチングをしてたのかなと、私は解釈しました
    何であやしい家出になった人とまた会うわけ!?
    パパにセフレを求めてるのだろうか?!
    会社での交際費のようなものでしょうからね。
    1点1点今日人妻出会いを入れていきました。
    財布のところは素通りして下着屋さんへ
    今日は元職場の友人から電話があり、エッチ出会いに行っていっぱいおしゃべりしてきた
    メル友村登録を「20代友達探し」にしてみました。ヤリマンという肩書きからくるイメージほどおメル友してないし(笑)
    果たしてアタリかハズレか
    しかも、九酸化錯体を熟女に変えつつね。
    普段の行動はのろいくせに、こういうときの行動はホント早い(笑)

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