Monday, October 20, 2014

How To Sell Me Your Game

Looking through Game Trade Magazine, I count about 37 pages of upcoming games. Meeple Monthly has a similar number of new products vying for my attention and limited cash flow. Let’s not get started on Diamond Previews, which offers new release products by the pound. Daily I get emails from distributors and game and comic publishers, all trying to convince me to buy their game. In most cases they fail. Here is how to sell me a game, a comic, a book, an action figure, a puppy or anything else. People have used this process so many times over the years that it has acquired its own acronym:  AIDA. Now, AIDA is a simple process but, just like anything else, it provides results only as good as the amount of work you will put into it. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

Attention—Everything starts with getting attention for your product. You have to get people to notice you. Sending out an email with an attention getting line, taking the time to call up a store on the phone, send them a piece of (gasp) paper mail or highlight your offering in GTM or Meeple Monthly or Previews with a color background. Do something to call my attention to your product. Taping a $50 bill to it certainly will but so will an eye-catching picture. I have become quite bemused with the number of companies looking at Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, not as fund raising platforms but as promotional platforms. I am not a big fan of Kickstarter as a retailer but am finding many publishers using it to promote their games.

Interest—Great! You caught my attention. Now, hopefully, you have done some research to figure out if your product will catch my interest. If my online presence says I sell tabletop games and comics, I am probably not a good candidate for jewelry but I might be interested in disc golf supplies or boffer swords. I am likely very interested in new items that fit well in my market category, will turn well and have at least an average margin. Pitch me something that doesn’t meet those criteria and my interest drops rapidly.

Desire—OK, your really cool game now has my interest. Maybe it is the way you described game play, maybe it is the number of customers I have suddenly had asking for it, maybe it fits a niche in my product mix, maybe it is the discount you are offering. Now you want me to want your game. You want to make it as easy as possible for me to carry your game or comic, either by getting it listed with several distributors (sorry, but going exclusive with one distributor is a really BAD idea until you have developed demand for your product. Very few companies start off as WizKids or Mayfair) or by making it easy for me to order from you with a low minimum order or reasonable (or free) freight charges and a promise of a quick shipping turnaround. Expecting me to spend $500 on an order or to buy six cases of your untried game will quickly kill my desire to order it. Yes, I realize you have to make money but so do I. To keep me desirous of buying your product, give me as few opportunities to say “No” as you possibly can.

Action—This is the result for which you have worked. I have pulled the trigger, put the order in with you or with a distributor. Now, follow through. If the product is as hot as you have said, do you have any on hand to handle the re-orders or will I have to wait months for a second shipment to arrive (Cough, WizKids, Fantasy Flight Games, Cough)? Popular games with a following can survive months of out-of stocks (Both Pandemic and Betrayal at House on the Hill have) but your new product does not have that base of support on which to rely. Keep me informed about restocks, new releases, promotional opportunities and I will buy from you again.
That’s it. AIDA has worked for centuries. Companies use it at the GAMA Trade Show, GenCon, San Diego Comic Con, as well as the local restaurant or haberdasher down the block. AIDA is easy to describe. Like almost everything, the implementation is the hard part.

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