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The Small Company Guide to Business Development in the Video Game Industry (Part I — PR and Messaging)

AKA — Being the grizzly, even if you’re a koala

If you run your own game development company, your daily to-do list is probably overflowing with important tasks: completing projects, communicating with your customers, directing your development team, handling distribution issues, creating marketing assets, and in some cases even coding or creating art for your game — all of which are vital to running a successful business.

However, there’s one task that doesn’t always make the list, but is arguably one of the best things you can do to support your company’s long-term stability and growth: business development!

Over the next few weeks we will introduce you to basic business development skills and useful programs and software, as well as tips for integrating business development into your daily routine.

Topics we’ll cover:

  • Why constant business development is important for your company
  • The top eight skills that support a strong business development strategy
  • Introduction to the most popular tools to use for daily business development
  • Examples of how to conduct business development on a daily basis, as well as during a conference or industry event

Ongoing Business Development Is Important

To ensure a healthy, thriving business, you must always be moving forward. This means reaching out to new clients, searching for businesses to partner with, or finding ways to improve your product or service so it’s the best one available on the market.

If you neglect or completely ignore business development, you could face severe consequences sooner than you think. Once your business starts to stagnate — or worse, moves backward — you’ll only make life easier for your competitors. Constant business development helps your business gain momentum, which leads to new customers, opportunities, and hopefully profit!

What is Your Weakness:

Whether you do business development daily or you’ve never given any thought to it, chances are that you are probably naturally good at certain areas of business development, and unnaturally awful at others. While it’s a great idea to play to your strengths, ignore the temptation to skip out on the “hard parts.” Business development works best when you give equal attention to all areas.

Read through the following list of skills and consider which of these things you are best and worst at. Jot down which specific skill or skills are your weak points.

Key Business Development Skills:

1. PR (Public Relations) and Messaging — Telling customers how your product or service will solve problems or improve quality of life

2. Prospecting — Finding potential clients or areas to expand your business

3. Follow-up — Pursuing interest in your product or service and gauging commitment

4. Proposals — Offering the right amount of work for the ideal price

5. Project Management — Planning and controlling resources

6. Team Management — Coordinating and tasking individuals

7. Getting Paid — Securing income to make your business model sustainable

8. Getting Endorsed — Asking clients to testify that your product or service is top-notch

In the next part of this guide, I’ll break down each skill into its key points. Pay special attention to the section that corresponds to your weakest skill(s) and keep in mind that, like most skills, it will take practice to improve.

Later we’ll cover some websites and programs that can be integrated into your daily routine to help support these eight core skills.

You live and breathe your business and understand better than anyone how it can improve people’s lives or save them time and hassle. However, if a potential customer doesn’t know about or understand your products or services, they’ll just become a lost opportunity.

Craft your pitch

A pitch could be a casual, written introduction you send via email, or an upbeat 10-second verbal presentation while waiting in line for coffee. No matter the method of delivery, your pitch should cover the following four points.

· Sell yourself and your experience. “I’ve worked with global licenses for over 15 years.”

· State your business goal. “We want to put great IPs and brands in the hands of great teams.”

· Identify a pain point and back it up with data. “With 20,000 new apps launching each month, discoverability is a huge issue and licensing can be intimidating.”

· Explain how you will fix it. “We work with brands to find them great development partners, and help developers and publishers gain access to these licenses while building win-win co-marketing strategies. We show consumers that licensed games can be original and don’t have to suck.”

Tweak the pitch

Once you’ve covered the above four points, customize the content for different situations and mediums (e.g., email, printed brochures, website, conversations). Prepare and practice a variety of pitches, as different potential clients have different needs. You may find yourself talking to a company in a different industry and need to be able to redefine what you do to make a connection.

The following sample pitch describes a different service, but note how each sentence supports one of the four pitch points.

“I’ve spent the last eight years of my career hunting down and landing work-for-hire jobs around the world. We want to help you grow and stabilize by putting those opportunities in your hands. We know it is time consuming to find the right people and build the relationships needed to receive these RFPs. We can put over 60 years of experience, relationships, and guidance to work for you for less than the cost of a junior business development professional.”

General Tips for PR and Messaging

  • Take a success and add your own twist.
  • Never forget to K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid!)
  • Don’t get bogged down in detail at this point. Get a paying client first.

Establish yourself as an expert

  • Contribute articles to industry-related websites
  • Maintain a blog and update it every 1–2 weeks
  • Write whitepapers and submit them when conferences have “calls for entries”
  • Pursue opportunities to speak about your skills or experience
  • Participate in social media, such as creating and updating a Facebook page or Twitter account
  • Send out monthly newsletters to customers or other interested parties to keep your business fresh in their minds.

Next week we’ll tackle prospecting and how to keep an incoming funnel of leads flowing consistently.

You can find out more about The Powell Group at their website (www.powellgroupconsulting.com). Jay also hosts the Indie Game Business show available on YouTube, Twitch, or your favorite podcast app. Indie Game Business also produces an online business networking event where you can meet with hundreds of game companies over a course of two days without having to travel.



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