Erik Sebellin-Ross, an independent marketing consultant specializing in the game industry offers this practical guide to promoting your indie game.
The first step to building sales for your game is generating buzz. And the first step to getting that buzz is promoting your game to journalists, bloggers, YouTube entertainers, and all other relevant influencers.
Because without them writing about your game, Tweeting about your game, discussing your game on YouTube, talking about your game on their podcast, or mentioning your game in any other digital, print, or audio format, damn few people will ever hear about it. And if they don't know about your game, they won't buy it.
What you're about to read is a breakdown of a fundamental, tried-and-true process followed by PR people the world over. It outlines what you need to do and say to get attention for your game. So let's get to it.
Journey of a Thousand Steps
This promotional process is called outreach. And it is simply a matter of telling influencers about your game so they can tell their readers or listeners or watchers so, in turn, their followers will learn about your game, become interested in it, and with luck, buy it.
So where do you start?
First, you create a list of relevant influencers. By relevant, I mean influencers who would be interested in your game and who have a sufficient number of followers. The next section will tell you how to create this list.
Second, you write pitches to send to influencers. A pitch is an email designed to create awareness, generate interest, deliver information, and build excitement among influencers so they can pass this awareness, interest, information, and excitement onto their followers. The final section of this article covers how to write and deliver a pitch.
And, third, with luck, you get sales.
And One List Shall Rule Them All
To reach out to influencers, first you have to find them. And not only do you have to determine who they are, but you need to find their contact information. Such as their direct email address. And their direct telephone number. And even their Twitter account.
And, note, this contact information has to be direct because, almost always, any message left in a general telephone mailbox and any email sent to a generic firstname.lastname@example.org will be universally and sadly ignored.
To create a list of influencers, list every newspaper, magazine, blog, and any other venue you want to speak about your game, from Eurogamer and Joystiq to the technology journalist at The New York Times even to Yahtzee. If you are not sure if the venue is worth your time and effort, determine how many followers they have. For newspapers and magazines, look for their circulation number in their advertising kits (look online in the advertising section). Aim for a minimum circulation of 200,000.
For bloggers, look for their monthly traffic numbers using sites such as Compete or Statsaholic. Aim for a minimum monthly traffic figure of 25,000, but keep in mind these sites usually understate traffic, so use them with skepticism.