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Saturday, October 05, 2013

On Buying and Marketing and Growth

Jean Sexton muses:

One of the exciting things about moving to Amarillo and ADB, Inc. is that I am learning new things, expanding my horizons, and having fun in this new job. While some of the new things include finding my way around a city and setting up a new life, others are very definitely related to moving to a small business world from a government-supported academic world.

I have had to change how I think about books. I was on the "buying end" of the book industry. I bought books I liked to read for my personal collection and, for the library, suggested books that I thought students might need or would enjoy. I read the ads and reviews to see what I would like or suggest for others. I definitely shopped in bookstores to spot new titles and authors. A cover would draw me in, I'd read the writeup on the cover, and then I'd make the decision to buy or not. My friendly local game store knew what I enjoyed and let me know when something I would like was released. Buying things was easy!

Now I find that I'm the one hoping to see a cover that will draw people in. I'm the one trying to figure out how to get that image out to the world. I'm the one trying to see what will tip a person into spending hard-earned money on "my" book, not "the other company's" book. What do I write that will appeal to our existing customers? What do I write that will appeal to new customers? How do I get this book to stand out and make people pick it up?

For a long time, we haven't really "done" marketing at ADB. It was "catch as catch can" due to everyone having so many "jobs" to get done. Marketing consisted of an email to existing customers, a listing in the trade journal, and, more recently, to promoting the item on social media to existing fans. We blog about things we think will interest our customers; we try to maintain forums that are pleasant to visit. All these are aimed at keeping existing customers. However, the company needs to expand its customer base in order for the company to stay healthy. We need to keep our existing customers, find our old customers, and expand by reaching out to new customers.

How do we do that? Well, one thing we are going to try is to try previews of our new releases. People like "freebies" and maybe we'll find some of those people who used to play our games and then thought we went out of business for good during the transition from Task Force Games to ADB, Inc. Maybe someone will be tempted to try Federation Commander if they try the free "First Missions," with visible proof of its shorter rulebook. Maybe we can show people what the Star Fleet Universe is and how it differs from canon Star Trek.

We are expanding from e23 to DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault. Different people shop at different "stores" and maybe we'll find some of those missing and new people there. I'm trying to make announcements on BoardGameGeek in hopes that people will find us there. (I'm having to learn their rules about publicity, but I'll get there!) I need to learn other places to visit to make announcements.

We are growing our demo presence via the Rangers. I'm trying to keep up with who is doing what, make sure that they have what they need, and make sure that they get their rewards. Next on my list is to encourage the growth of battle groups. We promised we'd have that going a while back and we are following through on it. Battle groups are a nexus of gamers and able to help us turn out better and better books.

How can you help? Become a Ranger and help introduce our games to new people. If you see something that you think we're doing right in the way of advertising, let us know. If you know of places we should expand, let us know that, too. If you are on a board and it is appropriate, let your fellow gamers know you enjoyed something we produced. Help me learn, please. I want to see our games reach every roleplayer and gamer that would enjoy them. You can always email me at marketing@StarFleetGames.com or message me at our page on Facebook.