Has this ever happened to you?
Have you had an urge to become a marketing expert but you couldn’t find any useful information online?
Now if this was 2005 and I started an article like that you would probably keep on reading because it would seem like a solution to the exact same problem you are facing. Well, it's almost 2020 now and if your sales pitches start like that you should probably stay away from marketing.
On the other hand, if you are willing to accept that you are no God and that you actually don't have a clue about this business, here is a shitton of information that is free to use and apply in your day-to-day routine. It won't make an expert out of you in one day, but if you use your brain and common sense you should be able to keep up with the competition and mop the floor with them if you wanted to.
Important notice before we start
While writing down the talking points for this article I used a word counter and noticed that the talking points alone have 400+ words so this is going to be a long fucking read.
Sit your ass down and let's begin.
1. The basics
Marketing has many shapes and forms but it can be narrowed down to a few main categories that bring the best results.
● Visual Ads
Banners, popups, social media advertising and anything flashy or annoying you may find while consuming content online
● Native advertising
Pretending to write about something you like just to sneak a few links to whoever paid for the article in the first place
● Affiliate marketing
Telling everyone how great something is while not using that same thing yourself
● Influencer marketing
Same as affiliate marketing but with a bit less morale
● False advertisement, flash sales and made up discounts
Not an official category within the marketing community but a very well-known technique to get money out of people’s pockets without much effort. Manipulation is achieved by creating a sense of urgency.
Consider these as the pillars of marketing and remember them because I will be referring to them further down. Right now, these are essential to every successful marketing campaign for one simple reason - they bring results. Why do they bring results? Let's talk about targeting.
2. Targeting your audience
I want to let you know that I am well aware of the issue every guide or "tips and tricks" video has. None of them gives a straight-up example of a product. So, for the sake of science and education, let's pretend that we are trying to sell an unfinished video game that is riddled with bugs and we don't want to spend money on testers. As a matter of fact, we can earn some cash along the way and get those testers for free. To do that, we need to find our audience.
A few questions before we start targeting our generous players
● What is this game about?
Since we are following the trends and hopping on them to make a quick buck, the game will be a Battle Royale. We are also aware that the market became competitive so we added a few twists to help us sell the game but let's leave that for later.
● What is our genre?
First Person Shooter of course.
● Who is most likely to play our games?
The same demographic that is playing similar games already. Let's assume it's mostly 20-30-year-old males that don't have a very active social life. How do we know they don't have a very active social life? Based on their playtime. How can we know that? Use Google.
● Where does our audience hang out when they don't play the game?
Facebook, Reddit, Instagram... Whatever social media platform is popular at the moment. On top of that, they want to stay up to date with their games so they are probably watching YouTube videos and reading articles as well. That means we can use influencer marketing and native ads along with our standard ad campaigns.
● How do we make them quit the real game and come play our knockoff?
This can be tricky but there are a few douchebag techniques that we can use from our "False advertisement, flash sales and made up discounts" arsenal. We tell them the game is in beta because that's a ting now, we also tell them that we value their time so we are offering a fantastic one-time discount just for them.
What are they getting?
FOUNDERS PACKS, EXCLUSIVE SKINS, WEAPONS, MOUNTS... Whatever we can come up with, as long as it has limited supply and only the early birds can get it. You name it, we got it!
● Everything above still won't make them play our game?
Since our game is shitty we need to convince them otherwise. Remember that we added a twist to the game and we have a feature that no one else has?
Here it is.
During the game pigs fall from the sky randomly and they can kill you instantly, but there is a catch. Right before impact you hear an "oink" and if you dash at the right moment you can survive (dashes are cool so don’t even start). These falling pigs are our main selling point and now we start to leverage it with the tools we have.
Native advertising will tell them that there is this new game that has this HILARIOUS feature that EVERYONE is talking about. Even that one famous person (if we have the budget for it).
Influencer marketing will convince them that their favorite streamers and YouTubers are enjoying the game so much they can't stop playing it!
False advertisement, flash sales and made up discounts will create a sense of urgency and they will want to become those unique snowflakes that purchased a founders pack. Not only that, they are beta testers for the next big thing in gaming!
If we spice it up with a few announcements about future events that we never plan to make, huge development in the background and cover everything with one big roadmap, this shit should sell like crazy.
So who do we target?
We used Google to figure out which games in our genre are popular, we made a shortlist, and Mark Zuckerberg did everything else. All we have to do now is use the data his users gave him for free so they can brag about what they ate today, and start targeting our competitor's fanbase.
This is where you use Ads if you didn't figure it out on your own.
Some people prefer to create a buzz with influencer marketing first and then start with ad campaigns but this is all up to you. We both know you told your client that everything is under control before you came here for help so man up and make a decision!
And don't you think for a second that I forgot about affiliate marketing. We are using every tool in our arsenal and that's why we added a "recruit a friend" feature in the game!
Bring your friends to play and spend some cash, and we will reward you with some virtual currency that has zero value in the real world.
No pressure though... If you feel like it - do it. If not... It's ok. You could be missing out on this ULTRA-RARE "referral god" skin but we won't force you to do anything…
We will probably send you a notification or two about it but we will never become annoying. After all, you are the ones getting a new skin for growing our fanbase completely pro-bono, not us!
Now it may seem (to an untrained eye) that we have accomplished what we wanted and everything is set for mass production but don't be fooled. Marketing is a lot deeper than you think.
That is why it's time to get intimate!
3. Getting to know your audience
Get it? Cuz you a stalker...
Since we already know where our audience is hanging out, maybe it's time to pay them a visit. We don't have to participate in conversations with them (God forbid), we just want to lurk around and try to figure out why that thing they call a meme is so funny to them and how we can use it to our own advantage. Can we make an in-game skin out of it? Should we repost it on our social media to get a few cheap likes and laughs off the backs of meme-makers? And most important of all, how do we know if they like it?
Well, that one is actually easy.
If they aren't complaining in the comment section and are creating engagement, things are fine. We may steal a few more memes from Reddit if we wish to do so. Who can protect them? The law?
If they are posting this image in the comment section, maybe we became a bit too relatable.
By observing them for a few days or weeks, we can find their weaknesses and target the sweet spot. Since there are Millenials and underaged kids in our targeted audience, let's add a mix of nostalgia and Fortnite dances just so we have everyone covered. These are separate ad campaigns though! We don’t want the Millenials to think we like Fortnite and we don’t want the kids to think we are old or something.
The kids will love it and the Millenials will think "Oh how cool. I was alive when this was a thing. These guys know exactly how I feel. Let me click on this and see what it is about".
There will be some smart guys that will call us out for our immoral advertising efforts but we have the "block" button on our social media pages, don't we gentlemen?
Now that we have all of their data, all of their interests, hopes, and dreams listed in an Excel document it is time to release the Kraken!
4. Ad design and psychological manipulation
Did you already forget our main selling point? We want them to pay attention to that pig so keep that in mind.
Also, you are probably questioning the value of the time you spent reading this article this far. Especially because I am trying to teach you how to sell a pig in a shitty game but please, consider this.If we can sell a pig along with a shitty game, shouldn't that mean that we can sell normal stuff like house appliances with ease? Exactly! So stop complaining and let's talk about that pig.
How can we make the pig likable but also something that you should fear. Well, that depends on how the pig looks. Did we put a funny hat on it? Is that hat a propeller hat by any chance? Who came up with that stupid idea in the first place?
Look at this garbage. Who can relate to that?
Depending on the tone of our game we can determine the apparel of our hero.
If the game is intense with a lot of gunfights, we want the pigs to be mean and make a huge impression when they smash the ground. They should probably be dressed as special forces and have a mean look on their face. But we have to make them just a bit likable so they don't seem like the bad guys, but rather offer a comic relief during the gaming session with a pinch of tension just so everyone is happy.
If our game is aimed at a younger audience, we might consider revamping that propeller hat and making it look like something the kids are into. We can know that by watching a few PewDiePie videos on YouTube...
...just make it look like something from Minecraft and it should be fine…
Make the detonations more cartoonish and child-friendly, put a smile on that pigs face and we are ready to move the product!
One more important thing! Pigs have to look like they are enjoying it. Even better, you can invent a lore so you don’t have to explain yourself to all those animal-lovers out there.
It’s not even a pig you crybabies. It’s a bunch of pixels… Just like porn…
That one could take a while to process...
Now that we figured out how to make the players appreciate our main selling point, we can move on to ad design. I won't talk too much about it because I'm no designer but I can throw in an idea.
Put the pig in the top left corner of the banner and make sure it is standing out in all its glory. It is our mascot and it deserves the spotlight!
The bottom center should contain some shooting but we don't want to focus on it too much. Everyone has the shooting, we have the pig!
Add some trees and buildings in the background for extra points.
An explosion is also cool...
Again, I'm not a designer so you should use your imagination for this one.
And that's it! Now can we release the Kraken?
Sure... if you are an amateur... We need to make sure these things work with minimal investment! Time to collect some more intel from our competition.
5. Spying on your competition and crunching the numbers
Our game isn't the first game ever invented and our marketing campaign isn't something unique. This means that someone before us must have done the same thing? Did we pay attention to their ads and methods? No, because we were busy making this monstrosity of a game, but that doesn't mean we can't look at what they have been up to lately.
Start by stalking them on social media. Follow their every move and deconstruct the posts. What are they trying to achieve with those posts? Are they making engagement? Could we do the same for our social media pages? Are they using hashtags and who are they tagging in the posts?
Inspect, deconstruct, reconstruct and repost shamelessly. We want that audience to grow organically before we start spending!
Find their ads and see where they are advertising. Could that be a good spot for our ads as well? Write that down and continue searching for more clues.
Remove N4G from the list because no one clicks on those.
Scan the forums and see what the players don't like about them. If it is an in-game feature, remove it completely or make it better in some way. Be sure to let your targeted audience know that there will be none of that bullshit in your perfect game.
Once it gets out of beta... If ever...
Finally, crunch the numbers. Collect stats, comments, shares, growth percentages and all those fancy words you learned by watching that marketing course that thought you nothing useful. Use what works, throw away the crap that doesn't. Work smart, not hard!
Pffft....... No wonder you read online guides....
6. Dos and don'ts
This one has no text because this image has sound
Did you seriously think that marketing is just slapping ads on websites and telling people how your product is awesome? No! We have to think about our reputation as well. On top of that, we want people to know that we are a brand and not some lowlife who created a Facebook page to reply to every comment made by random nerds.
Since we are publishing a game we must be a studio or something, right? Depending on your personal preference, you can present yourself however you like.
It’s not like someone will Google your name or take you seriously anyways.
For now, let's pretend that we are creating an image of an upcoming brand with integrity and full control over our actions and business moves. That means no to:
"I'm glad you liked our game! We worked so hard on it! (winky face)"
We are professionals and we know that this game is good. That one guy that says it's not working probably has a bad internet connection or doesn't meet the minimum requirements.
If he complains again just hide his comments and move on.
Our brand has dignity and confidence. Every post has to be a full, clear and understandable sentence. We will not be promoting any other brand or mentioning it in any context. It is us and no one else because we are the creators of this stunning piece of art people dare to call a video game.
So with all that in mind, be sure to inform your social media managers not to participate in conversations and whenever in doubt reply with a simple:
"we are aware of the issue and are working on getting it fixed. Please be patient as we will be releasing a statement soon".
You can spin and edit that statement however you like, it is just a common template everyone uses.
Nah... we didn't check what's trending.
7. Trends and how to hijack them for personal gain
Everything we did so far should make our marketing campaign completely fail-proof! We figured out how to find our audience, how to lure them to our social media pages and how to keep them happy while they are there.
The one thing we are missing is the secret ingredient behind every successful marketing campaign and every successful social media page - jumping on trends shamelessly for cheap likes (again) and internet kudos that we can then convert into ’’loyal customers”.
Be it the Ice-bucket challenge or a meme telling everyone how teenage girls are worshiping Billie Eilish as the new messiah, we will integrate that into our daily shitposting routine. No questions asked!
We can agree or disagree with those trends based on the sentiment within our audience.
If they like them, we like them as well.
If they hate them, we pray to God in heaven to free our internet from this lame normie bs.
Don't forget to promote our game ever so slightly in those posts though.
And no... No Kraken yet but we are almost there. I promise.
8. Moral dilemma
This is where the shit really goes down. This is where you decide if you want to have some dignity left when the blizzard is over (#blizzardisover) or do you want to take the moral path and lie just a little bit about your abomination of a game.
Since taking the moral path is easy and mostly chosen by pussies, we will be professionals here and add a few more tools to the mix just to be extra sure that we are making money fast and having no responsibility for the wealth gained at the very end. So how do we do it?
1st - Use native advertising and ads.
We start with complete bullshit and resort to clickbait. Create a PR statement and then send it to "media outlets" for further editing and distribution. Add a few extra dollars for insane titles like
"This new game is taking the world by storm! Gamers can't get enough and we are addicted as well! As a matter of fact, I am PLAYING the game while WRITING this statement."
And my personal favorite
“More addictive than heroin”
It always gets the younger audience.
Since we are going for zero dignity we are advertising on porn sites as well.
We are making that pig sexy and it is calling YOU to play this masterpiece of a game that has no sexual connotation whatsoever! To be extra sure we have everyone covered, we added an anime character to the game (someone who was copyright-free or the least known character so we can minimize the risk of a lawsuit) and we are letting them know by throwing a few popups at them.
Watch anime online for free? You wish! Plow through our ads first and then you can enjoy the first 5 minutes of the show. Then plow again...
Do you even AdBlock?
2nd - Influencer marketing.
This is where the fun happens.
We paid a guy on Fivver to dig up a list of YouTubers that have about 20-30k subscribers in the gaming niche. Since he was super nice he narrowed it down to FPS gaming channels and a few teenage kids that wanted to promote our game for free.
They said it would make them look like they have sponsors and the other kids will be jealous and make a diss track about them, and then they can respond to it and then the first kids will respond to the response…
1 MILLION SUBSCRIBERS!
Why did we do this?
Because upcoming content creators have a more loyal fanbase and their audience is pure gold right now. It costs less, we target a specific audience and the kid is probably willing to overreact while playing the game for a few hundred extra.
We did the same on streaming platforms too! No gamer left behind!
We start small before the herd mentality kicks in. That’s when they start thinking that our game is actually fun because we included crossplay ofc.
Their friends from Xbox come to join because they have nothing else to play and the in-game voice chat is our best feature because it's not that hard to make and it is also the most inexpensive part of the game! Genius!
Everyone is loving it but time is ticking!
3rd - Deploy the memes
In case you forgot, we are professionals and we are prepared for this. Anticipation is our middle name.
That positive feedback has to be enhanced so we paid another guy on Fivver 5 bucks to make us a shitton of sweet memes we can post on Reddit and 4Chan. Shure, they may not pick up on their own but we are professionals God damn it!
Go to Google and type "buy Reddit upvotes".
Prepare a prepaid credit card because you will probably be scammed the first few times and voila! Front page here we come!
The memesters catch on, the commenters ask:
And you, the professional, reply with:
"I think it's this one. Everyone seems to be talking about it, dunno why...."
And your coworker who is also a professional replies with:
“What do you mean you dunno why? Everyone fucking loves this game! You must be living under a rock normie!”
And you downvote him for insulting you but then you realize that you have to hit that upvote button. Suppress the emotions! It's not worth it. We are here for business and business only.
And thus, the cycle begins. We have invented perpetual motion!
4th Step - the big boys!
Our game is slowly catching fire but it's not enough. Founder packs are underselling and our ad campaigns are becoming less profitable. Now is the time to invest! This is the moment we have been waiting for!
It is to be expected that everyone knows our name by now so we just have to send a few emails to a few influencers and we can be on our way.
The email has to be professional, the influencers need to be YUGE, we need to sign an NDA (because that’s what professionals do) and we don't want to sway their opinion or anything... BUT! Here is the thing.
The game is already popular and is worshiped within the gaming temples they call man-caves. No opinions need to be swayed, the influencer just needs a slight reminder that their audience already loves the game and they, just like us, probably don't like to go against the opinions of their audience.
So screenshot those examples of unconditional love and include them in the email. Don't send too many, just a selected few. And keep in mind that it is VERY important that we act quickly because we don't want them to play the game on their own and form opinions based on the gameplay! We want to help them discover our game by offering monetary compensation.
That should add extra softener on those reviews.
Remember, the big guys are telling them to like and share the video on their own because that’s their default state of mind. No need to pay extra for that, it’s a bonus feature and a life hack for marketers, if you will.
6th - You aren’t paying attention.
6th step is easy because there is no 6th step. Even if there was it would be 5th. Focus!
The reason for not including another step is because we have reached the end of our journey.
That was your Kraken and you missed it.
9. The aftermath
The campaign was a success. Our game was worshiped by millions, we have earned all the money in existence and we started accepting Bitcoin payments as well.
Do you really need to ask?
...Because we are professionals and professionals follow trends...
Everything was perfect and the hype lasted long...
...for about 3 months...
And then the player base kept shrinking and that one guy made a video saying "FORTG PUBNIGHT is actually a shitty game!!!! REEEEEEEEE!!!!" (yes, that was our name because we were aiming for zero dignity) and that was the last nail in the coffin...
If we were on top of our fame for just a few more months, there would maybe be room for a sequel or even a remake, but those dreams are dead.
Season 1 was fun for the whole family and season passes were purchased by every stolen credit card on the planet. But, our demise was waiting just around the corner. We knew it was there... We just chose to ignore it.
Maybe that demise was determined by our actions. We employed only two developers to figure out the bugs and move the product from beta to something bigger, better and even more exciting!!!
It was probably because those bastards didn't understand the struggle we went through to make that masterpiece.
FOR THE PLAYERS - BY THE PLAYERS
That’s what our campaign slogan said and it was as sincere as every PR statement we made. Those spoiled brats couldn’t appreciate art and hard work...
But hey! At least we have that cash. Maybe it is time we consider working on Stardew Hollow Cuphead now. I predict it is going to be a hit! A close friend told me that kids are into that retro style nowadays.
10. After Credits
Almost missed it, didn't you?
The tale of FORTG PUBNIGHT ends here. Lessons have been learned, our moral values have touched the lowest point in human existence and some of you, aspiring marketing experts that want to become the new [insert self-proclaimed marketing expert name here] one day learned the most valuable lesson of them all:
Marketing is a walk in the park if you are born without a moral compass.
Consider it a gift…
For the rest of you wondering will there ever be another guide like this one? I can't say for sure. For now, feel free to share this literature with your friends and family. Be sure to subscribe, like and comment on this post because I value your opinion and am not asking you to do those things just because I want to increase my reach.
Don't forget the bell button
Go home. It's late.