Guest Post: Games Creator James Hudson on Marketing Your Campaign Before You Launch
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We were excited when Druid City Games’ second Kickstarter project, Grimm Forest, launched a few weeks ago. We were even more excited when it funded in just under three hours, and we saw backers commending the page for its concise and well-planned layout, beautiful artwork, and great use of GIFs. We spoke to James Hudson, one of the game’s creators, about his team’s strategy for generating so much buzz around the project from day one.
Your project needs stunning visual assets. Your project’s creative (visual assets) must be highly engaging, crisp, and professional*. We only had a few assets prepared for our first campaign, and our efforts suffered as a result. When we started planning for Grimm, we not only created more assets, but we also A/B tested them to figure out which ones our community would respond to. (A/B testing is testing multiple pieces of creative with the same audience, measuring results to see what gets more engagement.)
I was surprised by the pieces that people were engaging with — they weren’t the ones that I was the most excited about. But once we found the piece that resonated most with our community, we shared it across more social media and communication channels.
Run an online event to get your community excited about your launch. We realized that if you want people to be excited about an event or giveaway, you really need to draw them in. We used paid social media posts to promote our events and we’ll definitely be budgeting for more of these in the future. A strong start is invaluable for the rest of the campaign.
Talk to your community and test new ideas with them. We engaged with our community by asking them questions in our newsletter. These questions yielded lots of feedback — some that even led to huge improvements for the game. At one point, Barnyard Roundup had dice in the game that had a specific mechanic. When we got a suggestion to remove the dice and streamline the game, you could have seen the steam coming from my ears and the laser beams shooting from my eyes! The dice were my favorite part of the game. But despite my love for them, gameplay improved once they were removed. Asking for feedback on your project before you launch can help your community feel more involved in what you’re making and lead to a better product in the long run.
Let your story guide your marketing plan. It’s normal to have waves of doubt before you start a project, but having a plan* for spreading the news before and after you launch definitely helps. Backers have a lot of options to choose from on Kickstarter, so we constantly ask ourselves, “Why should people be excited about our project?” This question guides us when crafting our story, creating new images, and inviting people to support our project.
When it came to planning our pre-marketing efforts, we prepared several visual assets and introduced a new one to our community every week leading up to our launch. Some assets offered a small reminder that the launch was coming soon and others made a bigger deal out of it. We also paid attention to posts that resulted in people unfollowing us or posts that people “hid” on Facebook. If a piece of creative hit a certain threshold of “hides,” we would stop using it.
Once you’ve settled on a marketing plan, stick to it. Pay attention to what’s working and what’s not, iterate, and keep trying new tactics to reach your community.