Tag Archives: marketing

Sales and Marketing Funnel for Dummies (and RPG Authors)

Given my recent gripe about RPG companies’ Web sites, I thought I’d do the community a public service by talking a little about the ‘standard’ concept of a sales and marketing funnel and what you need to do to attract customers.

Now, even if you’re giving your game away for free, you have customers. You may or may not be less motivated to do work to get them, but if you have something that you’d like other people to get, for whatever reason, you’re looking at sales and marketing.

And though people can make it complicated, it’s not. Use the analogy of a store in the mall that wants to sell items to people in the mall. You need to help people move through a pretty simple sequence of steps. Attention, interest, desire, action, and satisfaction. Skipping any of these steps causes people to get derailed.

You don’t really need to worry about the technical terms here, unless you want to Google for more. But for the record, you want to get “leads,” “qualify” them into “prospects,” and then “convert” them down each step in the “funnel” until you “close” the “sale” and get “moolah.” Often they break up the process into “marketing,” which is the process of attracting and initially informing the customer, and “sales,” which focuses more on taking a prospect through to closing, but that’s for megacorps not your one-man thing.

Let me file the serial numbers of a certain billion-dollar company’s funnel as an example.

1. Product

It should go without saying. But unfortunately sometimes it goes without doing as well. You need a product, ideally a quality, compelling product. You don’t have to wait till you have one to start generating interest, but you need one. Sure, we’ve all seen people that get some success by combining extensive sophistry and marketing with a crap product or vaporware, but a) those are bad people and b) it’s not sustainable, unless being a scam artist is your stock in trade. The better the products, and if you have complementary products/product lines, the better.  Even good-hearted people get into this one with lighting up the marketing machine (or even taking preorders) before the product is done, and they aren’t so good with the deadlines.

2. Awareness and Interest

How do people find out about you and your product? There are a couple things that go into this, from traditional advertising to social networks to search engine optimization to reputation development. People often hear about and interact with you/your company/your game/your previous games a good bit before they decide to buy, so reputation development is key. What’s your plan here? Talking it up on forums? Pushing it at cons? Getting it sold on a lot of download sites and hoping that people will just run across it and decide to shell out $30 sight unseen?  Signing on to a license to slap a logo on it? People cold searching on “I want to buy a Wild West RPG today?”  An open beta?  A free demo download?  Trying to get comped reviews on rpg.net or similar?  Paying for standups at gaming stores across America?  There are better and worse plans here, but having a plan besides “Uhhhhhh…” is the key.

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Why do Indie RPG Web Sites Suck?

This came to mind while I was researching for my recent “Indie RPG Awards” article.

Let me give one bit of advice to our indie RPG people out there. Let’s pretend someone hears about your game and would like information on it. Well, some of you make it very difficult. If you don’t have any “product page” besides the sale page on RPGnow or whatnot, you’re doing it wrong. Let’s take Ave Molech. Morbid Games has a Web site, but once you get on it and try to find out information about Ave Molech, you’re screwed. The best you can do is find a link to an online store that has a two-sentence blurb on it. HTML’s free, boys, if you have a whole frickin’ Web site already take the time to put up a couple pages about your product, its world, etc. Same goes for Valent Games re: The Princess Game.

Even if your game is free you need to do this. It still takes a minor commitment from a person to download a big ass PDF and look through it. So even though the Dead’s site does a good job of just getting you to the game, it can turn off a casual browser. How about a couple paragraphs on what this is and why I might care? When I first was going down the Indie RPG list, I came very close to not clicking on it. “Another survival horror game, whatever,” I thought. Luckily the “Death and relationships” tagline got me just enough that I did dl it, and it’s really neat. But you’re shaving off your audience bit by bit if you don’t give them enough information to know whether they want your game or not.  If they aren’t sure, you’re not going to close them.

You’re indie already, and getting an audience is hard. Don’t deliberately make it harder. With the Web, it’s pretty darn easy to get a message out there. If all you really want to market to is the other two dozen indie wonks at the FORGE, then fine, but I would hope most proud authors would like to see more people experience their fine work.

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