Monday, June 23, 2014

Four Takeaways from Free RPG Day 2014

Sitting here in the quiet of the evening after a surprisingly slow but VERY profitable Free RPG Day, with the sounds of the extended TableTop episode of Carcassone playing in the background,  four things come to mind:

1.       Tried and True Beats New and Novel. The most popular items among our attendees/customers (just like Free Comic Book Day, we always have a few people who come in solely for the free item, get it and vanish again for months. I don’t consider them customers) are recognizable items that have been around a few years and have support products out there. Given the lack of any new D&D item (saving their powder for GenCon, I imagine) and no Star Wars  from FFG, our most popular items were Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, 13th Age and Mage. However , Cosmic Patrol and Valiant Universe did not have a lot of takers, possibly because they were smaller than other books, indicating not as much value but also because of a lack of familiarity (The Lamentations of the Flame Princess offering did not get a lot of takers either, but that is likely due to us keeping it behind the counter. Not putting an adventure marked 18+ on the cover out where kids might get it).

2.       Cover Design Is Important. When designing a cover, publishers need to remember that it is likely not going to get displayed in the way they envisioned it when designing the cover. Case in point Goodman Games’ Dungeon Crawl Classic offering. It had all the logos at the bottom of the cover. We racked it and sever other books in a waterfall display, which, due to the design, covered the bottom of the cover, where all the Goodman logos had been placed. The logoless cover may have stood out among the others with logos visible, but, if you only have a few seconds to catch a browser’s attention, every little bit helps.

3.       Dice Rule. More than any other item, we had people asking where the Free RPG Day dice from Q Workshop and Chessex were. Everybody likes dice and every gamer wants more of them. Since we only got a limited number, we opted (and I heard other stores doing the same)to use the dice we received as rewards for the gamemasters who spent a very long day running events from 9 in the morning until after 11 at night and as drawing prizes.  Adding the dice, and the Meeple dice towers, generated a lot of extra entries and money for the local humane society.

4.       Make Sure Retailers Can Sell Your Product. Nothing annoys me more (well maybe fingernails on a chalkboard and episodes of I Love Lucy) than getting a giveaway for a product that I cannot sell directing people to a website where customers can purchase PDFs of your games and supplements.  We offered the giveaway to our customers but removed the page directing them to the website, other retailers simply trashed the whole thing.

Overall a great day. We had an artist doing sketches for the Southern Illinois Autism Society, fed our customers pizza and cake and saw roughly a 30% sales increase and double an average day’s RPG sales. Cannot complain about that.

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