Welcome to the fifth lesson in the series known as Indie Marketing For N00bs. Today, we’re going to cover a short lesson that most indie developers believe is a myth but really isn’t. Marketing isn’t free and anyone that ever told you otherwise lied directly to you.
If not in monetary spending, it’s definitely in time needed to market properly manually. As you’ve read in the previous entries, marketing, public relations, community development and management, and social media all take time. A lot of it. As the old saying goes, “Time is money”. You will either take the time to do it yourself properly or bring in some additional tools for your arsenal that costs money. There is no in-between.
The immediate answer that people go to is advertising. This is the oldest and most well used form of digital marketing in the modern era. Creating an ad, focusing the target market (which you should have a comprehensive idea of due to your marketing plan), and paying for impressions (those that see the ad, but don’t necessarily click) is about as simple as it gets. There’s even a ton of options to go to depending on your demographic and social media that you utilize:
Wanna know a secret? Put in the Work.
If you want a truly successful campaign, you will spend money to get the right resources. But, that shouldn’t stop you from taking on the manual options as well. As I’ve said before: Get yourself out there on your own. Make sure every eye possible sees you. If you don’t know how (or my guides just weren’t as effective as you hoped), there’s always the option of bringing on a marketing specialist to your team or even hiring an outside PR company to handle the affairs. But, again, those cost money. People don’t work for free.
If you DO want to do it yourself, here’s the trick. There is no secret, special trick. It’s really just a lot of hard work and know-how.
Understand That There’s A Lot Riding Against You
Everyone has heard of Star Trek, the classic science fiction show that premiered in the 1960s. Don’t worry, this is relevant. In the original series (and the newer movies), there is a test that is given to cadets of Starfleet called the Kobayashi Maru. The point of the test is that some situations are completely unwinnable and it’s to show how well cadets cope with the concept of a no-win scenario.
Now, I’m not going to lie. The cards are stacked against you as an indie developer. The day this was written (October 4th, 2017), 15 games came out on Steam alone and every one of them were a free indie game. There’s a lot of evidence and statistics that show you will fail. You can do everything right, spend money to get the proper tools and help, make a fantastic game, and still fail. This is what I refer to as the “Kobayashi Maru of Marketing”. You just can’t let this discourage you. It’s an obstacle and your next game will do better.
Marketing takes a village. If your marketing budget is zero, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will fail. It means you have to work harder, step twice as fast, and learn from mistakes quickly to adapt. Put in the effort, get the word out, make sure every eye that can possibly see it does. Make sure you’re in the face of journalists because you need them on your side because you can show them everything you want, but if they do nothing about it, it’s lost to the wind.