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Self Promotion Tips

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Fhizban's picture
Joined: 01/11/2009

I thought it would be a good idea to give the community something back. Although the content of this post might not be new to the geek reader, i think a thread like this makes sense.

We all know how difficult it is to self publish and self-promote games. Its a hard fact that creating a game is only half the way to victory: you have to invest the same amount of time, energy (and maybe money) into the promotion of your project. dont forget, that while you are all excited about your game - no one in the outside world knows you and your product. Marketing a game means getting your name out there - and believe me - there is tough competition around to smash you! What you earn from your efforts is most often nothing but silence - as nobody notices your product among all the others.

This being said, what can you do? It may be a daunting task, but its not entirely impossible. I want to give you a few quick tips for self promoting your project. Simple tips you can realize all by yourself, and wich will generate an effect - if you transcribe them tidily and repeat them.

1. Website
Build a website for your project that functions as a hub, centerpoint or staging area. Try to get a real domain name (they are not expensive nowadays) instead of the ad-loaded subdomains from free services. Also invest some time to give your site a good design. the better the design the more trust it is able to carry to your visitors. also update your site regularly with content to keep people interested.

2. Blog
Still developing your game? blog about it! already playing it? blog about it? making new cover art? blog about it! So you see, a blog is a good way to keep your site updated and tell your people about whats going on. in addition it adds another channel and more SEO relevant pages and tags to your site. blogging is not limited to your own website, you can also add external blogs (like wordpress, blogger and even the bgdf blog). with the right technique you can also tie many of those accounts together to update them automatically.

3. Newsletter
Its just the logical next step that when you have a site and blog, you can also have a newsletter or mailing list. just put snippets of your current blog updates there to provide your visitors with a reason to check out your site again and again. many free newsletter services allow you to start without any investment - and: you dont have to send newsletters hyper-frequent, just maintain your list and write something new every now and then.

4. Social Media
Get at least a twitter and facebook account, there are also various other social media networks you could join. Try to keep your updates frequent (not too frequent) and short. To build a fanbase you have to provide your visitors more than just repeating the content of your blog, site and newsletter. Trigger a contest every now and then, post some artwork or snippets of the background story of your game. Even comical real life events regarding the development team make perfect postings on social networks. and: have an open ear for your visitors and answer questions quickly. Social media is a very good way to provide your "fans afar" with valueable informtation. one final note: keep special offers and aggressive advertising at a minimum!

5. Other Sites
You should at least get a profile for your game at the boardgamgeek and boardgameinfo, take some time to build a good profile and provide enough information and some downloads. also never forget to link your main site. there are many other sites you can ask for help, a small review or a backlink - gamers are a social and funny folk and most of them reply nicely if asked nicely. dont be shy to ask!

6. Be Prepared
This is fundamental to all previous and future tips: be prepared! prepare your game, your site, your logo and arts, your prototype and rules BEFORE your start promotion on a broader basis. if you praise your project, people want to see something because they expect something. too many projects start promoting while there is nothing to keep the visitors interested.

7. Stick to it!
If you dont see immediate results: Dont give up! Stick to your project! Speaking from SEO point of view, it takes weeks if not month until Google visits, rates and ranks your site. and it takes humans even longer to identify and trust you. So dont give up! You should see the promotion work as a longtime goal, maybe 3, 6, 9 or 12 month (or more) - keep blogging, posting and doing your work. dont waste your energy in the beginning, keep posting on a reasonable rate. not too fast to be annoying, and not too slow or people loose interest. a self-created and promoted project is like a baby: you have to care for it, protect it, raise it and last but not least: love it.

Thats all for today, but i like to expand this topic later on. As you might have noticed i focused on internet-only tips in this post (because they are straightforward and relatively cheap). The next installment will feature offline tips - and maybe you have also something to share?

PlayCrossbones's picture
Joined: 12/28/2010
Thumbs up...

If I were able to...I would give your posting a thumbs up!

Looking forward to the next installment...

Joined: 01/17/2012
Fantastic Advice!

That is some sound wisdom sir! Thanks for taking the time to post. Thumbs up!

MarblesTheGame's picture
Joined: 01/10/2012
Thank you, more please!

I am familiar with some of these tips but many, especially the details, are now added to my marketing plan. Thank you and I look forward to learning more. I'm very interested in the offline (non-internet) tips mentioned. Connecting with independent distributors and sales consultants intrigues me most. Actually, any and all topics related to game marketing are helpful. The few that I have found are not comprehensive.

-- Wayne

Fhizban's picture
Joined: 01/11/2009
Self Promotion Tips - Part 2

Thank you for your comments so far! I know that most of my infos are just common sense, but i appreciate your feedback as it keeps me going. The "offline tips" have to wait until the next installment as i got feedback, questions and ideas to push the online possibilities even further (also please excuse if some of my tips are out of context as they are results of my experiences, maybe I should sort them and publish a book later on - haha?):

8. Videos
Yes i hate them. They are a pain to make and they dont even earn you as many clicks as you hope for. But still I recommend to make tutorial and descriptive videos of your game. Just use a simple camera borrowed from a friend and film a demo session of your game, load it up to youtube and link it to your website: it helps! and: dont stick to youtube alone, add a mirror to vimeo and maybe one more site - all linked to your projects site. if you are skilled, add more videos describing all your games details and features. there wont be too many hits coming through, but the few people interested may find your site and get interested in your game. learn: without a budget, you have to take everything you can get!

9. Forum
I also hate this idea. Because you must moderate a forum. You can get one cheap elsewhere. And a forum enables you and your testers, players and fans to share their experience online. It really is an option as it provides direct feedback and exchange of experiences online. In addition to that, valueable keyword-strong pages are added to your project (wich is SEO relevant). any active, moderated forum is a self-growing source of keyword relevant page-add-ons to your website. just remember that you have to moderate and fuel it - like all of the other online tips presented here so far. weigh your resources and decide (i would recommend to focus only on a few aspect like a forum OR a facebook account - at least when you are alone). The major con about forums is that you are both the producer and seller of your project - and most people dont share positive but negative experiences (misprints, wrong interpreted rules, delayed shipments etc.) on a company-owned forum. think about that!

10. Forget about forms
Just a short sidenote: There are a few pages that offer "idea/game submission forms" via the internet. Forget about them! Usually form submissions are read with serious delay (if they are read) and dont offer any effect at all (besides automated answers). If you want to succeed, you always have to go the direct way via telephone, email or snail-mail (there are exceptions of course).

and now, two tips to get you prepared for the "offline guideline":

11. Step back from your expectations
So you want miniatures, custom dice, cards, a playmat and a 35 faction strong fantasy world in addition to full online and offline support? better try on your own! The first lession to learn when approaching a publisher is to step back from your expectations. and you can expect (for sure) that every publisher will cut back (if not reject) your idea unless its not fully: ingenious, marketable and affordable. so better think about limited expectations before dealing with publishers at all: resize and re-design your game to the single rule of Effiency! Nowadays, the board game market is not only hard to conquer, but also attacked from many sides because of increased production costs and tough competition from both computer- and video-games. it not your bright and shining fairy world anymore! think about that to re-design and re-size your game from the very beginning. its not about your dreams - its being about being simple, ingenious and playable - at a competitive price.

12. Stop loving your project
Take this one literally if you ever want to approach a publisher. There is nothing worse than a designer who fell in love with his own project. get rid of those feelings! The problem is that most (if not all) publishers see your project as one among many. and they judge it like one among a hundred. If your idea is too emotional you won't be able to react on the requirements of a publisher. This is the point where you have to see your poject as a "patient" in a "hospital" who will be taken "care of" without developing too much relationship. im sorry if this sounds cruel - but publishing your game via a company/agency/publisher is not the place to be all "im so in love with this project". So better get rid of those feelings before-hand! believe me, i have experienced on my own - and seen others fail - because of their "eternal bond" to the project they suggested to a publisher. people who spent years of their lifetime, developing a unique hermetic fantasy world are just "not right" in the eyes of a earnings-orientated company that makes a living of requiring many project on a regular basis. this is especially true when a publisher alters your idea and asks you to cut the material costs.

Still, i believe looking for serious publishers is the right way for every boardgame startup - and i dont want to shatter your dreams at all - but you have to take off the pink glasses beforehand.

Thank you so far for reading this so far.

Fhizban's picture
Joined: 01/11/2009
I have added the "Self

I have added the "Self Promotion Tips" to my website for later reference. Maybe they become useful for some of you:

Its a bit text heavy and badly formatted but it does the job.

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