My friend Nathan Lovato wrote a nice article about “How to market your game with 0 budget”.
This is pretty good. I’d like to submit an alternate version of this topic. There’s several ways to do marketing with low budget. Here are some guidelines I share with my friends game developers.
Big corporations weaknesses
To find how you can compete with high budget games, let’s talk about their weaknesses.
- They have teams with several persons. It means they have to reach consensus. They’re slower.
- They focus on the big media, because they can pay them / influence them. Big media review big games.
- Their marketing is more corporate, polite, cold.
- Their support is weak because they have a lot of customers. They have prepared answers and some of the bug fixes will never be done.
- The first weeks of launch are super important. If it fails, they cancel the game.
To know what your marketing will consists in, you need to read the Pareto Principle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle
To sum it up, 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients. A large scale company will focus on expanding it’s user base. You will focus on the existing one.
Focus on making few strong connections
Connecting with people take time. Keeping the connections alive takes time too. But people want to make deep, strong connections. Specially the players.
When you publish a game, some players will be more invested than others. Chat with them, engage them in the iteration quality process. Some reviewers will be highly interested in your game. Focus on those people that really like what you’re doing.
Maybe there is this journalist for a medium sized media who likes your game. Focus on your relationship with him. Chat with him weekly. Show him the newest stuff. Give him exclusives.
You can also create a discord chat where anyone can enter and talk with you. When you have an alpha version ready, get feedback and speak with people.
Be bold, weird, human
You probably have low budget but a lot of creativity. Be bold in your decisions. Make guerrilla marketing. Assume your position and try to show your games in new, stupid, astonishing or funny ways.
Communication is a lot about sharing your story. If you have low budget, you need to tell this story in different ways. You can’t shout this story on every platform. You can’t reach thousands of journalists in all over the world. It’s OK.
Tell your personal life story because it’s different than everybody else. The most important tip is to have fun with your marketing. You’re making a good, fun game that fulfills you, right? Make the same thing with your marketing. Make it YOURS.
Focus on low maintenance
We want big companies to be available everywhere. Twitter. Facebook. Youtube. Twitch. Instagram. Pinterest. Snapchat. Whatever.
You’re alone? Do ONLY ONE. Some days, you’ll think, “Wow, I could reach so much more people”. It will multiply your maintenance by 2.
For instance, publish your game on only one store. Decide on one social media that will best suit your game. Or pick one that you already master.
Don’t forget, from time to time, to find new players. It can be done through game shows, online events or simply mailing.
Schedule your time for marketing & act on the spot
If you’ve made games, you probably know that marketing is something we put aside constantly. We hope it’ll work out. We refine the game over and over until it can be shown “properly”. Be seriously careful about this.
I suggest you take half a day every week to focus on your marketing. Example:
Every tuesday, 3 hours of your morning if for marketing.
- You’ll spend 1 hour writing a blog post about your latest update. Just take screenshots, write a few words, schedule the publishing for next week.
- Then you’ll take 1 hour writing emails to work on your monthly newsletter.
- Then you’ll take 1 hour to work on your marketing pipeline or learning. Learn to make videos. Gifs. Newsletters. A corporate website maybe. Learn SEO. Whatever.
3 hours is pretty short, but it will allow you to be sure of being constant. If you find those 3 hours boring, do your marketing in another way. Switch the newsletter to a vlog with your phone. Switch the blog post for a live twitch maybe. Have fun with your marketing.
Realize this is the long run
You have 0 marketing budget. You can’t do like Ubisoft and spend millions in advertising. When you realize you’re here for the long run. The best personalities of game development have been here for more than 10 years. Stop thinking you’ll be this rising genius no one saw coming. Instead, think you’ll build your company over time, with respect, creativity, and people will judge you on your whole career.
Cliffski has made 15 games and now makes a living from game development.
McMillen released +25 flash games before making Super Meat Boy. Vlambeer was founded 7 years ago. Notch is 37 years old. To be someone, you first have to be no one.
In your marketing, always assume that it’s ok to be unseen, to only have 1 retweet, 1 like. Don’t give up and realize that yes, if you continue to speak about your game, people will get interesed. If you stop speaking, people won’t be able to hear you. The worst you can do for your marketing is be silent.
It also means that you need to be extremely regular. Imagine you earn 10 new followers every week. If half of the weeks before release you get lazy and don’t post anything, you’ll feel it on your userbase. Big companies have the luxury to start communicating near release. But they pay PR firms, Influencers companies, advertising, youtube networks to help them spread the word. Being regular and focused on small, efficient actions is the key.
I’ve tried to mix up real techniques with inspiring mindsets. Feel free to tell me if you enjoyed this post and how I can improve it!