Learning Marketing - Where to Start?

I’m learning marketing for the game dev startup I’m working with. Rule of thumb seems to be to start marketing your game at least a year before it releases. We’re planning to release Spring 2023, so hopefully that gives us enough time to build up a decent presence before launch.

For now I’m following the resources here by the founder of Zapier: Full Stack Marketing | Wade Foster

His story is interesting since he basically read a Seth Godin book and bs’d his way through a job interview to get his foot into the door, after which he worked hard to learn everything he could about different elements of marketing.

To start with, I’m focusing primarily on social media and content creation. I made a schedule with my colleague where we picked a few platforms to start with (primarily text based ones like Twitter and Facebook since we don’t have as much video/imagery for platforms like Instagram/Youtube). We plan to post at least one piece of short-form content (like a tweet) per day, and one piece of long-form content per week to a platform like Medium or Gamasutra (and mirrored on our website’s blog).

I’ll also be using this guide from Gary Vee to convert content between platforms so that if we create a tweet, I can convert it into a Facebook post and put it there as well.

This is mostly a test program for us and if it goes well we’ll ramp up the amount of content and add more interactive stuff. In the future we plan polls, giveaways, contests and other things to engage with the community more. The initial stuff is built around garnering interest with 0 followers and once we have some we’ll start engaging with them more.

What do you think of this strategy? What resources would be useful to read and practice for our goals here? (Basically maximize sales when we launch in 2023 and until then build a fanbase that likes narrative games and shares stuff with others)

I generally like Chris Do more than anyone else on the channel. One good category of video is critiquing other people’s work. Example: Improve Your Instagram Design: Critiques, Tips & Advice PT 1 - YouTube

Relying on social media sites to connect with your audience is risky. They can take your audience away after you build it. One way to connect directly is by gathering email addresses. However, a lot of young people don’t like email.

Also Eli Goldratt is great on sales and marketing. But I’m not sure offhand which books cover that how much. There’s some in his books, but I got some of it from videos like Goldratt Satellite Program - GSP Series :: Goldratt Marketing

(Also if you’re involved with a business and have any role in management or company direction – or you just care much about doing a good job – then you should learn Goldratt stuff.)

Oh yeah, I know Chris. I discovered him from his interview with Seth Godin. I liked the video he made about discussing fees with clients. I’ve heard that advice to own your own mailing list and grow that so that no platform has control over your fanbase and income. We’ll definitely start a mailing list and direct people there from other social media.

Thanks for the Goldratt suggestion. I initially read The Goal but more recently I also read the one where he’s sharing a bunch of stories with his daughter. It was impressive how he identified that clothing company’s problem and saw something that none of their executives could see. I’ll get more into it. Trying to find bottlenecks and focus on them has been something we’ve been consciously doing at the startup, since we realized that any progress we made on non-bottleneck problems wasn’t helping us overall.

I’m currently watching this video from The Futur: How To Build A Social Media Following— Get Started - YouTube

Hmm, so Chris Do recommends NOT replicating content across multiple platforms. That disincentivizes people from following you on multiple platforms, so it’s better to give them unique content on each platform. This is the opposite of what we planned to do based on Gary Vee, which was replicate content but customize the voice and style to each platform.

We’ll have to figure out what we want to do then…

Goldratt Satellite Program looks good, but I can’t afford the videos atm. Have you heard of/read this book? Goldratt Satellite Program: Eliyahu M. Goldratt: Amazon.com: Books

Not sure how comprehensive it is but for $20 it seems like it might be good value. I’ll see what other Goldratt Marketing Material I can find and learn from.

Also came across this free PDF by a “Dr Lisa” Lang https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oxrZ2Pb22vVL-GskG7_nMi9_5xOkbnFc/view titled “TOC Marketing: STOP making these 5 Marketing Mistakes to Exploit Your Market Constraint”

I’ll just start with Goldratt’s books. I’ve read The Goal and the Choice, so I’ll check out some of his others.

It says viewer notebook. Must have been given to people to use while watching. Not a book with the gsp material.

They used to have all videos available for like $150 per month. Maybe still do but website and pricing are hard to navigate.

click Purchase (green button) and then it has $129/mo for access to all vids.

the video player is kinda bad and doesn’t speed up but you can either watch with it or play stuff and screen record it then watch in a different video player later.

Goldratt has an accent so personally I tend to watch at speeds around 1.7 to 2.3 (compared to the majority of YouTube at 3x), and pause sometimes to think about stuff or read stuff on screen

I haven’t found any TOC person other than Eli Goldratt to be very good compared to Eli Goldratt.

Watched this talk recently and thought it might be good to share here: Game Discoverability Day: Building a Community for Your Game from Scratch - YouTube

It’s about community building for a game, specifically through Discord, and goes into specific steps to execute from start to finish. Mike Rose, the speaker, founded a publisher that’s well known for creative Discord community building and management which he leads himself. He likes to build meta-games using Discord bots so that people are playing a game within Discord leading up to the launch of the actual game, and they’re both based on the same lore and setting. This means that people get invested in the game to the point where they’re hardcore fans before the game is even out. The Discord meta-game is designed like a prologue, so once people have participated in it, they’re so invested that they can’t help but want to buy the game.

(Usually GDC talks have uploaded slides separately too but in this case I couldn’t find them :frowning:)

In other marketing and startup news, I’ve been running a Twitter account for the company (https://twitter.com/FraglessDesigns) as an experiment and it’s been OK - we’ve hit 300 followers in about two weeks and I haven’t been super active on it. The next thing I’m working on is our Steam page launch as I learnt that’s very important to the game’s success overall – multiple industry people say that there’s some invisible threshold of around 10,000-12,0000+ steam wishlists where if your game hits that number, when it’s close to release Steam will feature it on the popular upcoming section of their front page. This leads to a ton of extra traffic and 300-1200+ wishlists per day for free for each feature day. I also noticed a game on Steam right now that released August 27th and is still featured on Popular Upcoming, leading to even more visibility for it while people can actually play the game, which is great for that game. Wishlists also quite reliably convert into sales at some variable ratio between 33 and 50% overall, with like 20% of wishlists converting into sales during the first week of a game’s launch. Also learnt that Steam Capsule Art (the big banner art that’s the first thing you see when you search a game up on Steam, next to its name) is super important and it’s worth hiring a professional artist to do it for $500-1000. Steep for us but seems worth it so we’re going to scrape together the funds and put together an art brief for potential artists. It looks like many developers view Steam wishlists as their KPI of choice when doing any marketing before the launch of their game. So they have an idea of their base Wishlists/day, and then when they make a reddit post or go to an event like Gamescom, they check to see how much their wishlists increase due to that exposure/traffic. It’s nice to know about that KPI because now we can start testing stuff and seeing how the results translate (once we have our Steam page of course)

Also reading the book Ask Iwata atm and finding it nice so far. Iwata was the CEO of Nintendo and also a skilled programmer it seems. He became President of HAL Laboratories where he was a developer to try to save it from 2.5 billion yen of debt and first thing he did was speak with every employee, a practice he since continued wherever he went, having those 1 on 1s at least twice a year.

Since this post kinda moved away from Marketing and into more general startup update stuff, I might make a thread in the future to post updates on my work at the startup and how things are going there.

Edit: Also forgot to say, Steam wishlists are like a pseudo-mailing list in that people who’ve wishlisted your game get sent updates when the game launches, goes on discount, or has major updates. Unfortunately you don’t have a ton of control over how the emails get sent or what they look like, so it’s still great to build your own mailing list for sure.

Elliot has shared Jonathan Stark’s resources on Value Pricing before and I had read his main free guide from his website back then (https://jonathanstark.com/)

Just came across something similar from TheFutur here: Pricing Design Work & Creativity - Stop Charging Hourly - YouTube

He explains it quite simply but the part where it really clicks for me is when he goes to the extreme and asks the guy (presumably) roleplaying as a client: If he could have a beautiful logo made in 5 minutes that the client loves, would it be worth less than the 18k he quoted, or more (for a logo in 2 months I think)? The answer is more, because the client gets his logo sooner and saves time (and can start marketing with it sooner etc.). Hourly pricing punishes people for being better at their job.

Edit: Oh, looks like he even had an interview with Jonathan Stark! 🔴 Hourly Billing Is Nuts— Stop Trading Time For Money - YouTube

Edit 2: So it looks like this book was the resource J. Stark came across that put him onto value based pricing and it became his bible for a while. He still re reads it every year or two and continues to find value in it: Value-Based Fees - Alan Weiss, PhD (Value based fees, by Alan Weiss, who is/was apparently well known in the consulting space as a sort of Management Consulter’s Management Consultant)

~3 hours later, Just finished the J. Stark video… Watched it at 1.5x speed but took a lot of notes and discussed it with a friend over discord text chat while i was watching it since my friend is a freelance web designer and i thought he would find some of these ideas interesting. Ended up being very interesting and had a lot more depth than I remember from the online reading I did. A lot of the points he made turned traditional wisdom on its head for me and made me rethink things (and the new way of thinking made logical sense, it was just strange to consider things so differently)

I took screenshots of the summary part at the end (I really like that Chris does that feature – taking live notes during the podcast and then having a summary at the end). I’ll post the screenshots and my thoughts on each point next time since im tired now. (I wanted to post the screenshots right now but I realized they might take up a bunch of space so I’ll upload them to an imgur album or figure out a way to spoiler them inline here)

Highly recommend the video or his resources in general for anyone who’s doing freelance work of any sort and is going to be doing hourly billing or wants to do value pricing but doesn’t know how.

Ended up watching more J. Stark in bed instead of sleeping… Will post notes later today.

Links: Guide To Freelancing w/ Jonathan Stark - YouTube

Also watched this short and interesting bit by TheFutur on negotiation and why it makes sense to say your number first, not second, and how to handle if someone lowballs you with their number first (you say, “Sorry, that number doesn’t work for me. Could you make another offer?”: How to Negotiate a Lowball Offer - YouTube

Edit: The Guide to Freelancing Podcast/Interview led to a lot more marketing stuff, like Positioning, Negotiating, Business aspects of being a Freelancer etc. @JustinCEO A lot of this might apply to your freelancing if you ever decide to pick that stuff up again. The point J. Stark made was that once you go out on your own, you might get clients for the first year or so because of your story and network, but the period of 12-24 months after becoming a freelancer tend to be the hardest for most freelancers because that low hanging fruit dries up and usually they haven’t done any marketing for themselves to start attracting clients from the public market. He also says that positioning yourself in a niche (specializing and marketing towards a specific demographic, psychographic, or vertical/business category like pizza places or dental offices) takes about 18 months to kick into full effect, and involves stuff like interviewing people in that space for a podcast, writing blog posts they would find useful, creating videos and also learning what problems the people in that space uniquely face and learning how to solve them. So apparently it’s important to start on this early, and he was saying spend something like 10 hours on it every week for 18 months or so.

More specifics on picking your niche and how to be very specific with who you target as a business.