Well, Hello There!
Welcome to another fun blog about marketing for the board game industry. As always, the information you find here references the specific journey of RAMSTAR Games and Hivernation and is based on our activities, observations and results. Take from it what you will and leave the rest behind. Let’s get into this!
Our journey for designing Hivernation is pretty much over. We’ve settled (mostly) on the game art, the number of tiles and tokens in the game, and the rules too. In fact, we’ve heard very little about specifics or generalities that need to change within our game, so we’re happy to leave it be and get on to the next step which, of course, is marketing!
One of the great things about marketing is that you’re always doing it, whether you think you are or not. Showing off your new designs in a Facebook group? That’s marketing. Test playing your game at a convention? That’s marketing. Chatting to the media about your game? That’s marketing. When you’re introducing your game to people, be they new or returning fans, you’re marketing, marketing, marketing.
But what to choose and how to stay focused? Read on and I’ll tell you what has helped us.
PUT A LIST TOGETHER
I’ll admit that back in January I was feeling overwhelmed by our marketing efforts. We were firing in all directions, very sporadically, not particularly well focused, and nothing was really going over all that well. Social media, Facebook ads, our website, and so on. We were doing everything, and it was really hard to see what we were doing well and what was flagging badly.
In order to curb this sense of overwhelm, I decided to sit down and put a list together of all the activities we were engaged in so I could get a really good overview of exactly where our energies were going. By the time I was finished, we had 18 distinct marketing efforts that we were committed to. This included putting Hivernation up on Tabletopia, as well as having a Google My Business page set up.
When Kitty and I were finished, I was astounded by just how much we were trying to accomplish. I could see why so many of our efforts were falling short of their marks. We were going in too many directions at once and making little progress in all those directions as a result. Rather than focusing our energies in some key areas and getting a few channels of our marketing efforts to shine, most of our efforts were clunky, random, and not performing in any meaningful way. Outlining exactly what we were trying to accomplish helped to relieve my sense of overwhelm and put me in the right mindset to start honing our efforts.
FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU ENJOY DOING
After I had my list in hand, I sat down and had a moment of quiet reflection. Our game Hivernation is fun. Our company motto is, “It has to be fun!” The whole goal of setting up RAMSTAR Games was to be our own bosses, enjoy this journey as much as possible, and have FUN! So what, in my list of 18 different marketing items, was I having fun doing?
Content creation was at the top of my list. We have a Youtube channel but, in all honesty, I’m not a huge fan of shooting and putting together videos. But I do love blogging and I love talking about Hivernation and board games in general with the community in various formats be they podcasts or vlogcasts. (As long as I don’t have to do the editing. 😉 ) I am ENERGIZED after chatting with other gamers about games. I find I’m actually hungry for these interactions! So that was a no brainer.
The second thing I’ve enjoyed doing is building our Instagram following and getting involved with the board game community there. I’ve met several serious designers on The Gram such as Northing Games and Blue Fox Games, as well as podcasters and video producers. We get to chat craft, become sounding boards for each others design queries, and slowly but surely we’re finding ways to work together. Case in point, Alison and Daniel from Kid-Splaining (a growing Youtube and social media channel) are planning to work with us to put a preview video together for Hivernation. This would never have happened if we hadn’t met on Instagram. So that was another thing I’ve enjoyed doing.
Another social media avenue I’ve been enjoying are Facebook groups specifically designed for making your Kickstarter campaigns shine or marketing for board games in general. I’ve been enjoying the learning involved, the free exchange of information (from them to me and vice versa), and the connections I’ve been making with active members of the community.
Last but not least, I’ve been enjoying a Discord community called Quackalope run by Jesse Anderson and his team of sentient ducks. While it was a bit of a challenge to get a proper link to join up (there were a few snafu’s with old invite codes), once I did I found another welcoming group of game enthusiasts and designers. These folks are actively enjoying / creating games and they’re hungry, like I am. In the Quackalope group, I see a new generation of movers and shakers within the board game community and I want to add my energy to the coming wave.
If you’ve noticed, there’s one common element to all of these activities: community building. I’ve done many things in my life in which I’ve been part of a community but not particularly active within it. But the board game community is different. I feel engaged and happy to not only be part of the community but to actively contribute to it. I finally feel like I’m home!
So what was my next step?
PUT A SCHEDULE TOGETHER
Once I figured out what marketing activities I really enjoyed doing, I put a schedule together to make sure these items got accomplished. This might seem like a, Well, duh! kind of moment but I wasn’t doing this in any deliberate way for quite awhile. I now have a “day planner” that I use to keep my days / weeks / months organized. While I may not complete absolutely everything that I write down (I’m a bit of an overachiever), it certainly helps to keep me on track and get the bulk of what I’ve assigned myself done.
Everyday, I post to Instagram, Facebook, and I make sure to check in and see what’s happening on the Quackalope board. Depending on the day, any of these activities frequently leads me to a conversation with a fellow creator or another board game enthusiast who wants to know more about Hivernation and what we’re up to at RAMSTAR Games. Often, these one-on-ones lead to new opportunities such as discovering a new podcast to reach out to. I really DO enjoy podcasts! So much fun! — If you have any leads or run a podcast and want us on as guests just say the word! They always end with those involved making new friends.
I’ve also set myself the task of writing a new blog post every day of the week. I really enjoy getting my thoughts out in written format and I love passing along my experiences so that others might find help / inspiration / new ideas from my journey so far. It’s really satisfying to know that I’m helping others to bring their own uniqueness to the world in such a fun and engaging way. I’m going to continue setting myself this goal to see if I can make the activity as sustainable as I hope it will be.
On top of that, I make sure to keep strict track of any opportunities that have been afforded to me such as interviews, outreach that needs to be answered, or promises that I’ve made to others. I make sure to get those things done, and on time too. (Except for that one time I was late! Sorry Alison!)
Now that I’ve taken the time to look at what marketing avenues are open to RAMSTAR Games and which ones I actually enjoy doing, the focus has really helped to alleviate my sense of overwhelm and put me on a path of content creation that will not only help me, but others as well (I hope!). That is severely satisfying and has allowed me to approach my day with renewed vigor and enjoyment. Being honest with myself about what I like and what I don’t was the first step in getting our marketing strategy organized and I highly recommend it for you as well.
The added benefit to doing the things that you love is that your passion for those things shines through. People will pick up on the energy you put into your marketing activities, and they’ll start to resonate with your message. That is, I think, the very best marketing that you can do 🙂
For now, that is all.