Marketing Guide 1: Introduction to Marketing.
What will these guides be about?
Hey there and welcome to my little thread here on TGL. With the recent update of the Tutorials & Guides sector of the site, I figured it'd be quite nice to create a series of guides around effective marketing, advertising and branding of your game (although this isn't necessarily specific to games and could be applied to most businesses). I can't promise you that everything I suggest will work to your own specific needs, but hopefully it will provide some degree of insight and a little framework to help get the ball rolling in your head about how you want to go about marketing for your game. If you have any questions, queries or feel like shouting 'Oi that's a load of crap! Change it now please Sir' at me then you're absolutely free to comment below.
So, what is Marketing?
By literal definition, marketing is " the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.". It is very hard to write a more specific definition than that there due to how relative marketing can be to what product or service is being offered, what the intentions of the marketing are and what approach is taken to doing so. I would personally describe marketing to be the method by which a business takes to increase their market share, promote their product/service and to also grow and develop their brand identity. In plain, simple English: how you grow your business for the better.
I see, so Marketing is the same as Advertising... right?
Nope. Marketing is more of the umbrella term under which advertising would fall. Advertising is perhaps one of the largest parts in making up marketing for businesses, however the term marketing also covers aspects such as brand identity, brand development and also product/service development (and loads of other specific stuff too!). It isn't as simple as trying to show off what your business offers to as many people as possible, and that is ultimately where a lot of new businesses struggle to market in the most effective way they can.
Brand Identity? What on earth is that?!
To successfully market, you should be establishing a brand for your product/service. Your brand should be somewhat iconic, and something that is unique to what you are offering; you need for it to be clear to your target audience that when they see something related to your brand, they can associate it with certain characteristics and be sure to recognise it. You do this with things as simple as Logos, or perhaps Slogans too but also with building up a voice and relationship with your audience. A few examples, if I may? Throughout this Guide so far I have been relatively chatty and not very formal, and hopefully seeming friendly and approachable to you guys. I am offering you a service, and in return my aim is to get feedback. In order to do so, I want to encourage my audience (Game/Business Owners & Marketing Co-ordinators) to be interactive with me. Throw in some mild humour, a little slang and avoid proper English too much and it's more like having a conversation than me ruling off a list of instructions. This is effectively what would be my brand voice. You wouldn't see a campaign for Chanel or Prada do something similar, because they are marketing to a different client and are aiming to achieve different goals. Alternatively, the British Government use a similar tactic for their DVLA radio/television ad campaigns by having the spokesperson have an informal conversation with the listener. This works because the majority of the audience they are targeting are much less likely to respond to something more formal. Make sense or have I rambled too much?
What should I avoid when forging a brand?
Consistancy is vital: it is contradictory and ineffective to chop and change between different brand identities and voices. It is confusing, less significant to your actual product/service and conveys a lack of clear vision of goals which can break the trust of an audience to your brand. You want for people to feel secure in knowing that your brand is offering something worthwhile, and if they cant even manage to be consistant with their voice or logo, what does that say about other aspects of the business? Heinz have almost the holy-grail of marketing with the all-time classic 'Beanz Meanz Heinz' slogan, and after many many years this is still the root of their marketing. 'It has to be Heinz', afterall. With a game, having a clarity of audience is very useful to start your marketing. If your 18+ RPG gore game is being advertised with a Chibi-Style Cutesy logo and a slogan of 'Come make new friends for life here!' then you're not really capturing the interests of your audience at all. On the flipside, if Moshi Monsters had a vector, single toned logo and a slogan of 'A fictional creature virtual pet site for you and your acquainances.' then the likelihood of children rushing to ask permission to sign up is pretty slim. This stuff is actually more common sense than anything too complicated.
What is the Marketing Mix?
The Marketing Mix is a series of factors which a business can manipulate in order to control their market share, sales of products or exposure to their desired audience. There are four main factors to consider here.
How is your game presented to the market? Is your UI concise and simple, or is it cluttered and inaccessible without a few hours of playing around to see what's what? Are your ad campaigns caputring the interests of your target audience? Is your game reliable and bug free, with a reputation for being so? Does your game already have an active userbase or is already popular? Use these factors to your advantage and promote the positives within your marketing. What exactly is the unique selling point of your game? Why should I buy this or sign up as apposed to other similar games?
Is your game free? If so, is it cluttered with ads to the point of inconveniencing the user? Is it priced competitively with other similar games? Is it something people can justify spending this amount of money on for the amount of hours they would get from it? Look at Game of War: Fire Age for example: they have in-app purchases which increase in price the more you buy. I personally am at a point now where I need to try and justify spending £79.99 on an upgrade which cost me £3.99 once...
How are people going to know about your product? Where are your ad campaigns most likely to be placed with the most effect? For example, hiring a billboard in Japan to market a british county farmer's market is going to be totally ineffective. Alternatively, is it really worth paying for social media ad-streams is you're targeting your game at children aged 7 or younger? You really want to make sure you are promoting your product in both the most cost-effective and exposure-effective way you can. This may require an amount of trial and error, and a lot or market research, but is vital for success in marketing without blowing huge budgets on poorly driven campaigns.
How are you products available to customers? Downloadable only from a dodgy 3rd party site online of which all virus protection softwares are going crazy at? In a game store on the highstreet? From the Google Play AND IOS Store, or just one/the other? Place also refers to the time in which you release the game - no point releasing a Reindeer Racing mobile game in time for Easter, however releasing on the run up to Christmas would prove much more effective. You know the launch of something huge such as Pokemon GO! is upcoming? Release yours around this to avoid being lost in the hype no doubtebly going to come from the competition's launch. An example of this could be how TGL was opened just as VPL crashed (coincidence, I assure you) however the timing is brilliant because it provides an alternative for an already eager audience when their preffered product/service isn't available, hence increasing TGL's market share somewhat.
Target Audience? Market Share? WHAT DO YOU MEAN!?
Target Audience is who you want to market your game for, and who is most likely to want to play your game. Market Share is simply how much of a percentage of the exisiting market does your game hold to the competition. For example, Pepsi and Coca-Cola may hold a 45%:50% share of the market for people purchasing cola, and then smaller companies sharing the remaining 5%. A summer ad campaign for Pepsi brings it up to 47% and Coco-Cola down to 49%, leaving the competition with just 4% now. Make sense? I will be going over how to increase market share by market penetration, creating a new market and other methods in a later guide. I will also develop a lot more on the Marketing Mix and how it can be used when marketing for your own game.
I hope what I have written is beneficial somewhat and as concise as possible. Feedback is much appreciated!
View full guide