10 Ways I Market Stonemaier Games Post-Kickstarter

13 July 2017 | 11 Comments

The publisher of my crowdfunding book is having a big sale this week, and it got me thinking about marketing. My techniques for marketing Stonemaier Games have changed over times, so what do they look like now, particularly since we no longer use Kickstarter?

I remembered that I had touched up on this topic in an interview with BackerKit a few months ago, so I’m going to pull some information from that article and add some other methods to this list.

Please note that these are methods that I use for Stonemaier Games–this isn’t necessarily an endorsement for other creators and entrepreneurs to use the same techniques. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.

  1. My favorite marketing tactic is to give people reasons to get a game to the table, whether it’s through promos, expansions, downloadable variants, etc. The more often a game hits the table, the greater the chance that someone will play it for the first time and will be compelled to invest in a copy for themselves.
  2. Whenever any blogger, podcaster, editor, or YouTuber reaches out to me to request an interview, no matter how big or small they are, I always say yes. There’s always the chance the interview will reach someone who has never heard of Stonemaier Games, or it reignite curiosity in people who already know who we are. The one exception, as I’ve learned several times over, is that if I have an interview offer from someone who is “building up a backlog of content before launching their blog/podcast/etc,” what that actually means is that they’re probably never going to launch anything.
  3. Even though I no longer run Kickstarter campaigns, my previous projects are still there for people to discover. Thus I use Kickstarter’s Spotlight feature to link people directly to the “Buy” page on our website. I write about this here.
  4. Our website is a home base for all Stonemaier-related content. Perhaps the most important marketing strategy for the website is that it’s where people can sign up for our e-newsletter (link here), which I believe is the most invaluable device for conveying information to potential customers.
  5. We have Facebook groups for each of our brands (Scythe, Viticulture/Tuscany, Between Two Cities, etc). These provide little pockets for people who love or are interested in those games to talk about them, share photos, ask questions, etc. I’m very active in those groups, so they offer a platform for the personal touch I tried to create on Kickstarter.
  6. While I’ve found it difficult to calculate the ROI on spreading goodwill, I still think there’s some potential here. That’s one of the reasons I write this blog–it’s free for you to consume, but it’s also great if you occasionally buy one of my games or buy my book for you or a friend. Goodwill is also one of the reasons why I run an annual charity auction.
  7. I send a special e-newsletter just to distributors and retailers every one to two months to let them know what we have in stock, what’s arriving soon, and what we’re working on. I’ve found that retailers are fantastic ambassadors if they have information, so I’ve sought to give them that information on a regular basis.
  8. Similarly, I send a monthly e-newsletter to Stonemaier Ambassadors, people who believe in what we’re doing here and want to spread the love to the far reaches of the world that I only have access to online. These volunteers are incredible at sharing their passion for our games with people.
  9. Reviewers are one of our best marketing tools, so I send out a number of games to reviewers when they’re available. I write more about this here.
  10. I’ve found that we get a fantastic return on investment on play-and-win sections at conventions. That’s when people can check out a game from a specific section of the library and write down their name on a piece of paper associated with that specific game. At the end of the convention, one name is drawn for each game. We often see that hundreds of people invest their time in learning and playing play-and-win games, so the chances they’ll purchase the game (if they don’t win it) are significantly higher than before. Here’s my latest article about this technique.

You may notice that a few marketing techniques are missing from this list: deep discount sales, promotions, contests, raffles, giveaways, conventions, and sponsorships. Other companies have used them to great success, but they’re just not compelling to me from a marketing standpoint. I am, however, open to experimentation–I usually like to test something before rejecting or fully adapting it. Also, I do occasionally advertise on BoardGameGeek, partially because I think it works, and partially because I want to support a website that is so integral to the game industry.

What’s your favorite way that you or any company draws you into their world?

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11 Comments on “10 Ways I Market Stonemaier Games Post-Kickstarter

  1. Great post as always! I actually bought your book not too long ago (and loved the story in the introduction — coming from a world of blogging and writing books I know exactly what that’s like.

    Regarding the ‘play-and-win’ games: is it considered acceptable to include business cards, stickers, etc. — something the player can take with them after playing? Anything that might remind them of the game once they’ve left the con…

    1. Thanks Chris! As for including little takeaways with play-and-win games, it depends on the event, but usually that works. 2 years ago at Geekway I had a bunch of promo tokens available for anyone who played Between Two Cities, and it worked well. It’s also great if vendors at the convention know that your game is in the play-and-win section so people can go buy it while it’s fresh on their mind.

  2. Great list! I especially appreciate the insight about interview backlogs. Quick turnaround is so important in media in this day and age. It makes sense that attempting to run in a way opposed to that often leads to the media never being published.

    I do find it interesting you you list conventions in the list that’s not compelling to you from a marketing standpoint. While it’s true that you don’t run a booth at conventions, you actively seek to meet new people and are quick to teach your games ant Geekway to the West. Additionally, you host game nights at Gen Con.

    While you aren’t directly moving product in an exhibit hall in either of these cases, you are interacting face-to-face with potential customers. For small companies that’s a big piece of what spending time at a booth in an exhibit hall does. You’re having human interactions with people, something they remember. Especially because you are a major part of your brand (like you talked about in your previous blog post), those interactions make people feel connected to your brand and are therefore more likely to buy your games.

    1. Alex: That’s true, I think there is value to what we do at Geekway and Gen Con. I like what you said about the human element. It’s just that they aren’t a significant part of our strategy. I’ve seen some companies use conventions really well–it just isn’t something we’ve committed a lot of time, energy, or resources to.

  3. Thanks for the insight Jamey! I’m currently in the final stages of my first kick-starter and for the last few months I’ve collected a lot of valuable lessons from your experience.

    I’m curious, have you tried any social media marketing or video advertisements?

    This is part of my strategy as I continue to build followers and get my game out there.

    Thanks again!

    1. Joe: Thanks for your question! I haven’t tried any social media or video advertising, though I’m not against the idea. How is that strategy going for you so far? Have certain techniques worked better than others?

      1. At the moment I’m just getting started. I noticed my video post were out performing my visual posts. I decided when filming my kickstart video to make some adtional recording which I plan to release leading up to the kickstarter and during. I’ll let you know if I see anything special.

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