This is the time of year when game stores (and most other businesses) set their budgets for the upcoming year. Another retailing magazine I get even sent out a survey a last week asking how I set up my budget for the year. Of course, the really forward thinking among us got it done last month. The biggest chunk of the variable part of the budget goes to payroll. After that generally come advertising and other forms of promotion, which should run 8% to 10% of your budget but more often gets nicked down to 2% to 3%. Anyhow, if you do the any of the following, you might as well take that fistful of dollars you just spent on promotion, walk to the back of your store and flush them down your toilet. They will do about as much good there:
One and Done: Running an ad one time is like trying to win at Warmachine with one roll of the dice. You need to run the ad multiple times for it to work (Yes, Apple famously ran its ad for the Macintosh computer only one time and successfully launched it http://youtu.be/axSnW-ygU5g, but unless you’ve got Ridley Scott directing your commercial and can afford to run it during the Superbowl, not a good idea).
Hitting Them Where They Ain’t: Good advice in baseball, lousy in advertising. Advertising where your customers aren’t means no-one sees your ad. If you want to promote your game about wine cultivation doesn’t reach the people who are interested.
No Point: Too many ads get run with no call to action. What do you want the customer to do? They don’t know unless you tell them. Even Coke has an implied call to action in their ads: “This beverage looks delicious. You should drink it.”
Too Many Points: I’ve got this space, or time on the radio or tv. Seems a waste not to get as much information into it as I possibly can. I’m going to put all sorts of information about my game or my store in here. Too many points means that none of them make an impression on the customer’s mind. Pick 1-3 points you want to emphasize and hit them hard.
I’m Bored: I’ve run this same ad over and over again. If I see it again I will scream. Time to change it out and try something different. You may be bored with the ad, your customers are far more tolerant. Change just for the sake of change is bad. You change your ad when your customers tell you it is time to change it. How do you know when it is time to change it? When they stop responding to it.
And one more for good measure:
I Know What Makes a Good Ad: I run a good game store or know what goes into good game design. Ipso facto, I know what goes into good ad design. No, you don’t. Talk with your ad rep. Realize that sure, they are trying to sell you advertising but also realize they do this for a living. They want you happy so you will buy more advertising and should know more about ad design than you do. After all, it’s what they do for a living.