Here we are: my second lesson on things I should and could have done better with this campaign. Last time, I really only spoke about my reactions to the launch. This time, however, we get down and dirty with decisions I made (or didn’t) and what I will do differently next time.
Marketing sucks. Marketing is not advertising; although advertising (short-term) is part of a marketing plan. Marketing is promoting and selling products, services, or yourself – in other words, not short-term. Marketing, unfortunately, is completely crucial to the success of a business and not even a little bit easy for those of us who are more introverted. And marketing is where I failed miserably.
If you look at my Kickstarter profile, you’ll see that I’ve backed a lot of projects – 3 of those I backed purely because the creators got me all excited with posts on Twitter. I have also spent most of 3 years researching how to successfully launch a publishing business through crowdfunding. Therefore, I have seen a lot of successes. I already know (and you should, too) that I need to talk all over social media about tests and development; share pictures as I hand build prototypes, play games at conventions, game stores, and UnPub style events, and update / upgrade the illustrations and graphic design; and build the Kickstarter page early so that I can get feedback and allow people to build/share excitement before it launches.
Unfortunately, I allowed myself to run into a STUPID mental-block. Hot Pursuit has very little art and basically no graphic design (4 different illustrations and no text or icons), and it was developed in a very short time. Because I didn’t have all that early stuff to share, I stopped. Instead of looking for alternatives / solutions, I trusted advertising, friends, and a good product to carry my campaign. Well, hope and good intentions don’t go far in the fickle world of crowdfunding.
Here’s what I’m doing next time:
- Share More – I’ve mentioned this before pertaining to the blog itself. I’m still learning how to talk more. Fortunately, this blog is not just a reason to put myself out there but a good method. Game design is something I LOVE talking about. I could go all stinking day. As I share more here, I’m building the skills and habits necessary to share more about my games, too.
- Advertise Early – Dumb mistake here which mostly comes down to a lack of actionable research. Most project creators I follow spend the big advertising bucks mid to late campaign to counter the mid-campaign slump and magnify the big boost that typically comes in the last 48 hours. Well, I only recently figured out that several great advertising avenues are really affordable. Absurdly affordable. Next time, to help build excitement/interest and offset my really small social media reach, I will start advertising BEFORE the campaign.
- More Reviews – My initial plan didn’t involve the avalanche of reviews that is totally possible and often present on first-time creator projects. Mostly, I didn’t want to bother reviewers I don’t actually follow. Plus, reviews cost money (between printing and mailing, the 2 reviews I currently have cost roughly $250) and even really high profile reviewers don’t actually sell a lot of games. They do help but it’s not typically a direct results kind of thing. I had forgotten about a few important aspects of reviews, though. They help build interest, validate the quality of the game, and (most importantly) give me something to share. Best of all, that last part is an opportunity to help myself and them. As you can probably guess, I’ll be making use of more reviews in the future.
- Launch Party – I didn’t throw one. I don’t have a large group of friends, a big or busy local game store, or, really, any experience in throwing parties. A common alternative is a Facebook “party”. Again, I have a fairly small social reach. Basically, I had no good plan until Tuesday, when I had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Patio at The Board of Games. His is one of many organizations around the country which organize game groups in bigger cities and offer marketing / advertising services. What I should have done is take advantage of their hosting services. Therefore, next time, I’ll coordinate with them to advertise and feature my game at one of their bigger game nights and invite everyone I can to my launch party. Remember: it’s okay to ask for help 😉
- Videos – This one I knew was important before I started but was unable to pull together the resources to make it happen. Videos showcasing your gameplay are always important. Unfortunately, my less than solid plans fell through. With so very many new projects launching on Kickstarter every day, there is no reason for backers to assume I’m not just another idiot. Hot Pursuit sounds fairly gimmicky, looks too simple, and needs to be played to be believed by average gamers. That coupled with the fact that most people would rather watch a video than read some rules means I painted myself into a stupid corner. I KNOW that Hot Pursuit is a great game – a lot of fun, very portable, and deceptively difficult. This isn’t my first design and I’ve done my research and tested the game. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to see the fun without playing. Therefore, I must and, going forward, will always make sure I have videos ready upon launch to help others see what I see.
- Written Fiction – I don’t consider this a mistake; instead, a missed opportunity. I have plans for fiction written around a much bigger series of Sci-fi games I’d like to publish later on down the line. However, I failed to consider the potential for this particular game. Writings which bring to life the 4 different stories in Hot Pursuit would be fun to write and great opportunities for sharing. Plus, some people actually enjoy reading that sort of thing.
Understand that this is not written from a place of failure or with a defeated heart. These are simply things fresh in my mind right now. I deliberately launched Hot Pursuit first and at this time of year. I have high hopes of funding, still, but this project is both a launching point and a chance to learn. Now, what do you think? What else could I have done to better prepare for launch?