For the next 10 blog posts, I’m going to share some of my thoughts based on my varied experiences in the world of marketing. I’ll mostly be covering B2B (Business to Business) marketing (i.e. engines, dev tools, etc), but I might add a few opinions on B2C (Business to Consumer) marketing (i.e. video games).
The first thing I’d like to address, as it’s one of the most important ways to get your product out there, is marketing your product through participation in events. The “events” portion of any of my marketing plans — whether it be for a game or an engine — has always been extensive, and there’s good reason: events are a great, grassroots way of connecting to your communities and creating a two-way dialogue between your developers and your users.
It’s important to define what kind of ROI (Return on Investment) you want to get out of an event. It’s good just to keep in mind that most of your cost will be towards pushing out your brand and fostering direct connections to your userbase, but I always like to give two or three quantifiable objectives to define what we might get out of it. Here are a few examples:
- Introducing a new product: how many demos took place, how many press hits came out of those demos, how many downloads came during the event, how many newsletter sign-ups, social media followers, etc.
- Recruitment: how many interviews took place, how many hires (or even potential hires) were met, which positions brought in the most interest.
- Potential sales: how many meetings occurred, how many contracts were signed, how many new leads were discovered.
Depending on the type of event, it might be appropriate to choose a couple of these to pin your goals to. Or, sometimes you might just plan more abstractly: “Since I’m not launching any new products at Gamescom, I just want to recruit some staff for the Stockholm office and also keep my brand awareness up in Europe,” for instance.
Of course, one of the biggest issues around participating in an event is around budgeting. Events are expensive: not just the costs of renting the space, building the booth, and creating giveaways and demos, but also the people power you need to actually pull it off. Events are serious commitments, and 99% of the time, they’re logistically trickier than you’d expect them to be.
One of my biggest pet peeves at events is when no one on the development team can be spared to come and meet developers, and talk to them about what they’ve created. It’s super important to have developers at events to meet with other devs, demo the product(s), and get involved with speaking opportunities. In my opinion, if you can’t spare at least a dev or two to participate in a developer conference, you should consider changing your strategy regarding how you’ll participate in that event.
How to go about choosing the events you want to participate in also depends on your product and budget. At this point there are tons of events worldwide, from small, local meet-up chapters to huge international conventions. If you don’t have the budget for a booth at one that’s relevant to your market, get creative: try to angle one of your developers or executives for a speaking opportunity, or perhaps just try to just go and book meetings nearby. For most conventions, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Oh, and one last thing to keep in mind: I’m also a stickler for the notion that if you’re going to do something, do it right—especially when it comes to meeting and showing off your devs and products to customers. If you can’t afford to put together a decent-looking booth and have it properly staffed, don’t push forward and build something janky just to be there! Take that budget and use it wisely for something else that you can do, perhaps down the road, that will do your product justice.
Next blog with me, we’ll deep dive more into events with talking about setting up your own user groups and user conferences.