We are very lucky to have a guest-post from Paul Grogan this week.
Paul works in IT at a leading UK University, but also contributes a large amount of his time to the Board Games Industry. He has become something of an expert in the business (although he will never say so himself!) and he supports a range of publishers, designers and retailers in their marketing and development efforts.
This fascinating insight into Paul’s world shows us how non-marketing experts can use tools like social media and the web to make a success out of a good quality product. All it requires is time, effort and some passion!
Paul: I’m going to talk about how I ended up accidentally helping a new game sell out worldwide in 3 weeks.
Over the years, I’ve done bits of volunteer work for a few different games companies; proofreading rules, play-testing games, and doing demo-work at exhibitions. One of the companies is Czech Games Edition (CGE) , who I asked to get involved with because they make great games and ones I really enjoy. When the main designer for CGE told me about a game he was doing for a different company (WizKids ), I became very excited because this game looked exactly like the kind of game that I would love to play. The game was called Mage Knight.
I instantly offered to help any way I could by helping with the (very large) rulebooks, but also posting information about the game to the biggest and best site for all boardgaming goodness – boardgamegeek.com
In the six weeks ahead of the release of the game, I wrote a series of articles explaining the rules of the game in easy to understand instalments, along with pictures. The reason I chose to do this was because as a gamer, this is exactly the kind of thing I would love to read. A gradual drip-feed of information over a period of time rather than being sent a 40-page rulebook.
The result was a huge success. I’d gained a bit of a name for myself, I got very favourable comments from people. I was very active on the forums, helping people out understanding the rules. More importantly for me was that I enjoyed doing them. It took many hours to do but was worthwhile.
What I didn’t realise at the time, was how much of a good marketing tool this was. By regular posting on the forums, and the posting of images from the game, the game moved its way up on the ‘hot list’, which meant more people looked at it, which meant more threads and more fans. At one point, seven of the nine ‘hot images’ were ones I had posted! I was happy because I thought the game was so good, people needed to know about it, and a lot of people said that they would not have known about the game if it were not for my postings.
The end result was a game which became very well known and sold out on the first print run – very quickly. Two years on, I still do these previews for other games. CGE in particular now have a Facebook page and a Twitter page , and so when I post something for them on the website, they link to it from their social media feeds.
For the board gaming hobby, where most of the players are happy to be classed as ‘geeks’, getting notifications of what your favourite gaming companies are up to is great!
What Can We Learn from Paul’s Story?
Well, one key point is that the person who is best to market something, is the person who is most passionate about it. Small business owners, for example, should use Paul’s story as a source of inspiration.
Here’s what to do: seek out the places on the web where target customers ‘hang out’. Engage with them. Make conversation, or like Paul, give them something for free. Your time or your expertise often doesn’t cost you much to give away, so share it!
Paul shows us that by taking the time to find to engage with our customers, setting up social media and being active in their forums, we are able to reach wider audiences and generate a positive reputation for our products.