In recent years, the video game industry has become a powerhouse. According to Juniper Research, global PC and console game revenue is projected to reach $46.5 billion this year. Bungie’s latest video game, Destiny, debuted with record-breaking sales of $500 million within its first 24 hours.
Clearly, this is an industry worth paying attention to. While a lot of this success is attributable simply to consumers’ love of gaming, the developers and distributors also deserve a lot of credit. Their marketing savvy builds anticipation and ensures awareness of their latest games, and that leads to jaw-dropping sales. Business owners and leaders in every sector can learn a lot by studying these success stories.
With that in mind, here are three lessons from the video game industry that you can apply when marketing your business.
1. Strong titles
Names play a huge role in the context of both branding and general marketing. If a company or its products and services have names that are difficult to remember or understand, the business will miss out on a huge number of opportunities. A simple, strong title makes marketing much, much easier.
Video game makers fully understand this notion, as Forbes’ Steve Olenski pointed out. It’s pretty rare to see a successful video game with a complicated title. Look at Destiny – even if that doesn’t tell you exactly what the game is about, it’s a simple word with powerful connotations. The same goes for games like Halo, Assassin’s Creed, Titanfall, inFAMOUS and Call of Duty.
Other popular games are even more direct: Grand Theft Auto, NBA 2K14, Batman: Arkham Knight and Battlefield. These titles let the consumer know fairly instinctively what to expect, and then deliver on that promise.
Too often, businesses take the opposite tack when naming themselves or their offerings. They try to be clever or mysterious, in the hope that this will generate interest and curiosity in their target audiences. In many cases, though, consumers respond to these types of titles with confusion and indifference.
When developing your own company’s branding, don’t beat around the bush. If you have confidence in your organization and your products and services, you should let those things speak for themselves. It’ll make your marketing campaigns simpler, more direct and, in all likelihood, more effective.
2. Provide a sample
Just like in the film industry, trailers have long been a standard component of video game marketing efforts. Players eagerly await the release of these short clips demonstrating the story, graphics and playing style upcoming games have to offer. For many players, the most important part of these trailers is the actual gameplay. If consumers can see the game in action, they can get a very real sense of how they’ll react to the game itself once it’s in their hands.
While making a trailer may not make a whole lot of sense for your business, there’s a lesson here: Consumers want to know what they can expect before they purchase, not after. If you can provide a sample in your marketing campaigns, then you can gain your target audience’s trust and interest.
Maybe your business can offer free samples or trial periods of service. Maybe you can develop a rental program. Whatever the specifics, a marketing strategy that allows consumers to sample the goods before they buy will demonstrate confidence and good faith on your company’s part, giving you a major competitive edge.
3. Early order incentives
One of the more controversial aspects of today’s video game marketing efforts is the notion of pre-orders. With pre-orders, consumers put down the money to buy a game before it’s even released. In exchange, these customers are guaranteed to receive a copy of the game as soon as it’s available, and typically receive some additional reward, as well. This could be a special case, a discount on future games, extra downloadable content or even an in-game advantage.
Some game aficionados strongly dislike the popularity of pre-game orders. They feel that these offers can put undue pressure on gamers to purchase a game before they’ve had a chance to read reviews or hear feedback from their friends. If they don’t pre-order, they may miss out on highly coveted in-game content.
But despite these critiques, the fact remains that pre-game ordering is a massively successful marketing strategy for game makers and retailers. They may gripe, but millions of video game fans will put forward the money in order to guarantee a copy and receive whatever additional incentives that may be offered.
Business owners in other industries can take a page from the video game industry’s playbook by developing marketing plans that feature early order incentivization. Consumers love discounts, and you’ll love the early, guaranteed revenue. This is especially effective when combined with the last point – you provide samples of some products and services to generate trust, which encourages customers to pre-order in the future.
Are there any other marketing lessons your business can take from video games?
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