First-Person Marketer

First-Person Marketer
The Phases of Selling You a Videogame

JP Sherman | 8 Nov 2010 21:00
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The consideration phase is probably the most rational phase of the process. Yet as you pass from consideration to acquisition, you're ready to buy something. Sometimes, waiting the few days to get it delivered is a bit too much to ask for, so you hop in your car and head off to the store. For the marketer, the acquisition phase is the closing argument; it's finding that right bit of value that will convince you to make the decision immediately. For the consumer, the acquisition phase is about getting the game. For both, it's about closure. This action is the culmination of the entire marketing campaign. It's a process that's tracked, tweaked and replicated hundreds upon hundreds of times per year.

You Got 'Em Once, Go Get 'Em Again: Retention/ Re-Marketing
Once you've made your decision and you've made your purchase, there's still a hell of a lot of money to be made off of your commitment. Retention and re-marketing has the dual goal of keeping your attention focused on the company and their games and convincing you to make micro-transactions in the form of downloadable content, avatar perks, customizations and horse armor. At this phase of the process, community management comes into play.

You've bought the game, you've played it, you've spent time hunting for obscure achievements, you've started following the community manager on Twitter, and you're still connected to their Facebook page. Retention is designed to keep you engaged. With a strong community, you're likely to participate and return to the media outlets. With regular updates, you're more likely to play the game again. As the company releases downloadable content, as a part of the community, you're in the direct line to get that information. Secondary sales of DLC have proven to be quite profitable and companies are beginning to explore the boundaries of value with their content. Games schedule and pace their DLC releases to coincide with a dip in game activity, and community events and marketing continue to reach you throughout your experience.

However, from a marketing perspective, the retention phase is absolutely critical. I mentioned that the awareness phase is the most difficult hurdle, and it's also one of the most expensive. The cost of delivering a message four to five times to the same person is staggering. The retention phase significantly cuts the cost of awareness to the consumer the next time there's a message to distribute. The retention phase reduces the barriers between the marketer and the consumer, priming the consumer to enter the marketing loop all over again with the sequel. If the retention phase closes properly, the initial investment into the consumer could pay off time and time again by creating a loyal and aware consumer.

It's All a Part of Our Nature
We humans are hard wired to look for value. We evaluate opportunities, weigh consequences and then we make decisions. We're influenced by millions of years of evolution supported by constant examples of consumer decision making. Game marketing is unique in the massive variety of different types of media produced; the synchronized partnership between development, production and marketing; and the early adoption of new channels to market games. The good news is that even though marketers follow this phased approach nearly verbatim, gamers are savvy, skeptical and observant. Gamers can see through a lot of the immediately obvious marketing blathering and call us out on it. I've always believed that if you can convey value and distribute relevant content to a group as vociferous and opinionated as gamers, as long as you're not afraid of getting viciously skewered occasionally, you can pretty much market to anyone.

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