Friday, July 17

More Advertising

Until now my advertising has been limited to three places:

Each of these has their pros and cons as you'd expect. BoardGameGeek has a huge number of hits each month and is mostly targeted at the customer. The downside is that one of their revenue streams is to get people to pay money to 'join' the site, and this allows them to block all adverts from the site (I do this!). Since the most hardcore users are likely to be the ones who join, they're the least likely to see my ads, but the most likely to buy games :-( Plus, it's expensive.

Boardgame News comes in a bit cheaper, and in previous campaigns I've had more enquiries from people who saw an ad there than those who saw the same ad on BGG. Again, it's mostly targeted at customers, and the more hardcore ones at that.

The Greater Games Industry Catalog is as you'd expect from the name targeted at industry - shops and distributors. It's pretty cheap to get a page ad in there and they give you a listing every quarter for free so that's good. I've no idea if advertising in there has helped at all though - I've not had anyone mention they've seen my ads in there.

Now that I've got a pretty good distribution network, my next aim is to get more shops stocking and customers buying my games. How to reach that audience? A good question.

A couple of my distributors offer services to their suppliers to market games to their customers (the shops). So customers of mine want me to be a customer of theirs too. Weird.

Alliance Game Distributors the largest distributor in the US have a monthly trade magazine, Games Trade Magazine which they send out to their customers - the US shops. I can give them a wad of cash to place an advert for one or more of my games in the magazine, which would hopefully lead to more sales to the shops and then more customers noticing the games in the stores. It's pretty expensive though.

ACD Distribution, another large US distributor are offering me the chance to place flyers in every order they ship for a few weeks. I can even make the flyers like posters so they serve a triple purpose: raising awareness of my games with the store staff, giving the store owners something to decorate their store with and raising awareness of my games with customers in the store. It's a bit cheaper than the Alliance option and it hits both the shops and the customers. Sounds good. But to be most effective the posters need to be put up in the stores and I've no control over whether or not they will.

Just to make things even more bewildering, I've no experience designing adverts or posters so I've no idea how to make them look good, or even what information to include. I've asked for a back issue of GTM to get a better idea.

Any suggestions of which route is the best to go down, or what information to include?


Tao - Starlit Citadel said...

Alliance's GTM is pretty good. Well written and pretty and has some good (if generic) articles on games/etc. Alliance also sends out a daily e-mail newsletter (mostly text, if you want a copy say so and I'll forward you one) that I would think actually is better (and cheaper). They sometimes have blocks of text in there that allows you to pitch the game direct to the store owners.

They also occasionally run promotions (by the companies) so maybe it'd be worth packaging your 3 games into a deal? Do the push that way.

I'm not a fan of the posters idea 'cause of the lack of control. Unless you are touching the store owners before, during and after you send it to them, your 'put up' rate is going to be very, very low. Also your cost of printing the flyers and posters should be added to your advertising cost there.

Another point - repetition. Unless you hit the same audience repeatedly on a regular basis, your just wasting money. It's better to keep advertising for a minimum of 3 months (preferably 6) before you consider if it's working or not. By 3, you should see the beginnings of a ramp up, by 6 if there is no change, you should drop it.

Also, if you're creating a poster / flyer / advertisement, think not only about design but tracking. How are you going to tell if this works? Ways of doing it include having a specific 1-800 number for enquiries, specific e-mail address or website link, a special coupon code or offer, etc.

Tao - Starlt Citadel said...

Also, another suggestion about advertisements / posters / etc. It's worth getting a professional graphic artist to do the first set. Make sure you agree with them that they are to send you the raw files when you are done and discuss making the advertisements templated so that you can change the size of the advertisement(s) and graphics yourself for future advertisements. This will save you a lot of money in the future and give your advertisements a 'professional' look.

Also, when designing the advertisements or poster, keep in mind if you want it to be graphic or text focused. You should choose one and have that dominate the advertisement to draw attention.

Its also worthwhile considering exactly which elements you want to be consistent across not only this advertisement, but all your advertising. Most commonly, this includes a specific design scheme (e.g. Calvin Klien always using b&w advertising) and your logo.

Jack said...

Hiya Tao,

Thanks for all the advice and ideas. A lot to think about! I'll definitely take some of this on board.



Jack said...

Hiya Tao,

Oops, I forgot to mention I would like to see an example Alliance email :-)



David said...

I don't have any hard data, but from the people I've spoken to and what I've read (including your own reports), getting people to demo your games at conventions, in stores, at organized game groups, etc., will likely achieve a better return than advertising.

Todd said...

For what its worth, I've been an active user of BGG since the beginning (and I've donated every year since he started the patron program) but I've never paid for "ad block" because the ads don't bother me. So I see your ads...

Pinebars said...

Before choosing to shell out the money for the ads, it might be worthwhile to do a little research about how people actually decide to buy games.

I don't mind the ads, for example, and from time to time I click on one, but my general feeling is that the best games make a name for themselves without ads. According to my intuitive response, then, games that have ads, just aren't worth my time or money. Maybe thats just me, but how many games that you've seen in ads on BGG or BGN in the past couple of years have landed in the top 100?

Personally, I choose to buy games by three (or four) criteria. 1.Are people talking about it? (friends, "the hottness" list, articles) 2. Is it in the top 100? 3. Does it have good reviews? (4. How easy is it to get my hands on it?)

Anyways, that just me (and doing ads could certainly influence some of my four factors), but it might be interesting to look into why people choose to buy. To use your words from your previous post, how to get people from B to D.



Jack said...

Hiya David, Todd and Pinebars,

Thanks for all the input.

It's nice to know that some people still see my ads, even though they could hide them, I'm not sure how many people that applies to though.

Pinebars, good idea about finding out about what influences people to buy. The problem with the BGG top 100 is that it's highly influenced by number of ratings, not just the quality (due to the Bayesian weighting). As a result a lesser known game like one of mine will never get there unless lots of people buy/play it and that won't happen unless lots of people think it's worth buying/playing. If that relies on it being highly ranked on BGG we've a chicken and egg problem :-(