Marketing for Indie Game Designers: How to Ensure Your Work Gets the Attention It Deserves

Even the most entertaining and challenging game is a bust if nobody plays it. The internet gives customers access to thousands of video games spanning dozens of genres and age ranges. To get noticed, indie developers have to ferociously market their game through conventional and creative tactics. While there is no perfect solution for marketing success, there are a few basic tips that every game designer should use.

Build Your Game’s Reputation Before Launch

Anticipation can be an amazing marketing force, especially if the game delivers as promised. Designers should start building awareness of their game months before their planned launch date. In some cases, getting a small group of dedicated players to serve as alpha and beta testers is a great way to accelerate mechanics development and bug fixing.

Connect with Media Influencers

The video gaming industry has grown to enormous proportions in recent decades, so it’s no surprise that there are many media outlets that cater specifically to this user base. Game developers should keep in touch with the community by reading blogs, forums and industry news so they can identify potential marketing outlets. Connecting with even a few high-profile bloggers can provide a huge public relations boost.

Consider Third-Party Distribution

Third-party distribution is not an easy decision for any developers, whether they are indie or established. There are a lot of options for distribution platforms, so designers have to do their research to figure out the best one for their game. Some gaming portals are designed specifically for indie or casual games, so it can be a great way to connect directly with the target consumer base.

Create an Engaging Website

Every game designer who is serious about marketing their game needs a website where people can learn more about the game and the development team. These sites don’t need to be incredibly complex or detailed, but they should be entertaining, engaging, and represent the spirit of the game. Game site builder tools can simplify the process of creating and maintaining the site while leaving plenty of creative options for users. 

It’s tempting to brush off marketing as a secondary priority or something that will resolve itself, but this can be a disastrous attitude for indie developers. Engaging in public relations outreach may be uncomfortable, unfamiliar and confusing, but taking the time to communicate and connect with users is a necessary step in getting the attention the game deserves.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

4 Ways to Build Subscriber Lists for Your New Business

If you have a new business, then you need to have the right approach to increase sales and customer engagement. There is no better way to do that other than building a subscriber list with email. However, it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, if you follow the four tips below you can have a solid list in no time:

In-Store Calls to Action

When people walk into your store, they are seeing everything for the first time. They might notice a new product, your design, the layout, or something else. However, if you have a call to action to get on your list, then you are going to increase your chances of converting them in the store without having to say a word. Don’t miss out on the money you could make by getting people signed up from a simple logo or banner.

Text Messages

The reality is that sms services for small business can help you build your list. When you think about it, everyone has a cell phone today. This is different than a few decades ago.

People are checking their phones constantly. No one lets their text messages go unchecked. Eventually, they are going to look down and check their texts. When they see something from your business, you have a chance to convert them. You can use a number of enticing angles and offers to get them to sign up. Either way, having an email list is much easier when you manage them with texts.

Website Opt-ins

Do not just put up a website and hope people will come. You need to do much more than that if you want to get people on your list. You need to have some kind of offer. For instance, you can offer a free service or a discount when they sign up.

Social Media Posts

Underestimating the power and scale of social media is a big mistake. With a small budget, you can get a lot of results with social media. The key is to understand which platform your users are going to be on and then execute.

Getting more out of your business means building a list in today’s world. However, without a strategy you can execute, it is going to be difficult. So make sure you give yourself and advantage and use the tips above. That way, you are ensuring your list will grow by the day and put your business in a great position.

Emma is a business strategist-turned blogger. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand. Emma is a  passionate traveler and yoga aficionado. She is in love with coffee, interior design, books, and good vibes. 🙂 

Letting the People Know: 4 Advertising Tips for Small Businesses

Your business may be small, but you can do many things to get the word out about your company and brand. Never let the size of your company get in the way of letting the people know about your company itself. The key to advertising is to not spend too much on ad campaigns. Rather, some of the most effective advertising methods your small company can rely on are free while others may cost a bit more for a well-balanced marketing strategy. Here are some tips that will help you advertise your small business more effectively. 

Appropriate Advertising for Your Industry 

Before you even start thinking about spending one cent on advertising, you need to develop a picture and plan for what kind of advertising is going to work best within the type of industry your business operates. If you get this wrong, then you will be wasting countless dollars on the wrong type of advertising campaigns and the wrong target audience.

For example, it does not make any sense to take out a local newspaper ad if your goal is to promote an online business model where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) methods of improving your website’s rankings would do a far better job at reaching potential customers. Making a list of which advertising avenues will give you the best bang for your buck and which avenues are totally free is a good starting point for your small company to use for developing an intelligent approach to advertising that is cost effective. 

Traffic Generation 

If you are operating an online digital business, you must take the time to understand the various avenues of social media at your disposal for reaching out to potential customers. From your website, blog and email campaigns to advertising on high end social media platforms, you have the potential to attract literally millions of visitors to your website in a short period of time. Even putting together a useful, regular Vlog or podcast to help your customer base with common problems or issues in your area of expertise can help with your website traffic. These methods will help your audience better understand why you are a trustworthy and knowledgeable authority in your industry which will make purchasing from your company again and again an easy choice.

However, take note: some of these approaches may be a little time consuming, but often they do not require that you spend a huge amount of money to reach your customer base. What you put in will determine what you will get out.

Real World Sales 

While so many companies are moving online these days, your small company may find that there is a lot of potential for reaping high profits through digital means. However, especially for brick and mortar businesses, in-person sales and advertising are still an important part of revenue. People still like to go shopping and see products in person, so it helps to have appropriate signage outside your establishment—especially for sales and special occasions. Signs must be eye catching and recognizable from down the road. This is what truly attracts customers to want to visit your location to do business.

Be sure to make your signs professional and appropriate for your industry. For example, if you would like to advertise for a high-end real estate open house event, you wouldn’t want to simply write on the back of a leftover Christmas sale sign. You would want to find a real estate sign company to print up professional, event-specific signs. This will show potential customers that you put in the time and effort to create a high-quality experience, down to the last detail.

Word of Mouth 

Word of mouth buzz for your products and services can have a huge impact on your overall sales. Your goal as a business should be to under promise and over deliver on products and services. Do what is required to make sure that people are happy with their experience when doing business with your company—and then do a little extra. If someone is pleasantly surprised by how good you really are, they will tell their friends. This could involve giving away product for free or providing excellent customer service, for example, to help generate positive buzz about your company.

If you boast the best products, make sure they are the best products but also make sure your staff provides the best service. This is what will cause customers to spread the word about their great experiences. The people they tell about their great experience will want to have those kinds of experiences for themselves and turn to you in the future. Be careful though—if you fail to deliver what you promise and cause disappointment, negative feelings and stories about such experiences will quickly spread and, deserved or not, your reputation will take a hit. This can sabotage your earning potential in huge ways. In business, the customer is king and making them happy is a formula that yields major profits.  

Investing the time and effort into your advertising strategies will start to generate the interest in your company that you’re looking for. But, do not stop there. Keep looking hard at how well your advertising methods are working. If something seems to work badly for your company, replace that advertising approach with an approach that does work for you. Savvy business owners are always looking for new and inexpensive ways to market their business and get the word out there.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Entrepreneurs, This is How You Can Build a Successful Affiliate Business in 2019

In this day and age, boosting your personal finances has become quite simple. With so many online business opportunities and side-hustle options, earning some extra income is almost as easy as 1, 2, 3.

However, while there certainly are a lot of options to choose from, the wisest course of action would be to try and identify the most profitable ones before you actually decide to commit to them. Now, running an affiliate business has proven to be very lucrative in the year that’s behind us and it only continues to grow. But, before you decide on this endeavor, make sure that you understand completely what it entails.

What is an affiliate business?

Affiliate businesses are business agreements made between two parties who provide each other with a certain service in exchange for something in return. To make it a bit less vague, you can become an affiliate by deciding to promote someone else’s products or services to your target audience for a certain commission. 

But, how can you start an affiliate business and make it profitable?

Build a website

First and foremost, in order to begin with affiliate marketing, you will need a platform to do it on, as well as the audience to present the product or service to. So, begin by making your website. You can either choose to add a blog section to your existing website or create a blog right off the bat. Once you are happy with the way your website works, you’ll need to find your niche.

Determine your niche

The niche you chose to base your business efforts in will determine the type of content you later on present to your audience and, of course, your audience itself. In order to make things easier on yourself, focus your efforts on the niche that corresponds to your personal likings and interests. This way, you will be better motivated as you’ll be dealing with things you actually enjoy.

Draw your audience

In order to attract your audience and make sure they actually stay for the show, you need to provide them with something of value – your content. The content you promote on your website needs to be unique, original and, most importantly, useful to your audience. So, offer them informative, educational and entertaining content that’s above all relevant to them.

Become an affiliate

Once you become relevant in your niche, it’s time to start looking for favorable affiliate business opportunities. When looking for opportunities, focus your efforts mostly on high-competitive niches in order to boost your income fast. Top niches in this field include beauty, health and fitness programs, as well as the world of entertainment which includes ever-so-popular online gambling and video games.

Monitor your success

By keeping a close eye on all of your affiliate links, you’ll be able to determine the most profitable ones. So, use tools, such as Google Analytics, to your advantage and monitor your affiliate success. Tools like this one will allow you to identify the most profitable links – and, of course, the least profitable ones – which will help you determine what you should focus your efforts on.

Know the risks

As with any business, affiliate business also carries certain risks. In order to avoid putting your business in danger, you should:

Assess the businesses you’re working with and see how well they are doing. If the company you’re doing business with is not showing any progress, and especially if it’s showing a significant decrease, it would probably be best to cut ties with them to avoid not getting paid for the services you’ve provided.

Next, you need to make sure that the product or service you promote to your audience or sell on your website truly is as good as you are claiming. Otherwise, if it turns out to be subpar, you may lose all of your credibility which can seriously damage your business. So, make sure you do your research and try everything out before you actually start putting your seal of approval on things.

Know how to SEO right

In order to grow your affiliate website, you’ll have to dive a bit in the world of SEO and link-building. Now, while many affiliate marketers tend to focus their efforts solely on keywords with high buyer intent, they tend to forget the importance of keyword diversity. So, don’t make the same mistake, but make sure that you conduct a thorough keyword analysis. This way, you’ll avoid getting penalized for relying heavily on just one or two keywords. Finally, minimize the use of paid links and links that come from private blog networks as they are worth far less, and relying heavily on them may negatively affect your website in the long run.

With these basic tips on how to build a successful affiliate business, you should have no difficulties finding the right business opportunities which will allow you to launch your venture and enjoy the profit and success it is bound to bring.

Emma is a business strategist-turned blogger. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand. Emma is a  passionate traveler and yoga aficionado. She is in love with coffee, interior design, books, and good vibes. 🙂 

4 Procurement Strategies for Small Business

Procurement in relation to small business takes on a much different meaning than it’s big biz counterpart. Sure, they both involve similar practices, but in small business, it’s generally approached by a single person or small group — the most pertinent being the business owner. Small businesses don’t have access to a team of interns or professionals to handle research, vetting and communication. Instead, they have to do it all themselves.

Already, a small business owner has many demands and challenges on their plate from staffing and inventory management to customer service. Procurement, then, tends to be a much lower priority. But it shouldn’t be this way. In fact, most small businesses spend between 45 and 65 percent of their sales revenue on the procurement of inputs. It’s a massive undertaking for any company, big or small, so it should be afforded the appropriate attention.

In light of all this, let’s explore some tips and strategies that small to mid-sized businesses can leverage during procurement.

1. Form a Business Consortium

As a small business, you just don’t have the same buying power and influence as a major organization, at least not by yourself. In some cases, this issue can mean that many potential suppliers and vendors are off-limits simply because they work only with larger outfits. It also means that when you do find a potential partner, you may not save as much because you can’t meet optimal quantity limits. Vendors and suppliers will often offer exclusive discounts and deals for ordering in bulk.

Much of this inconvenience can be remedied by forming a consortium between local or similar small businesses. By partnering with others who need the same supplies, you can instantly meet volume requirements for additional savings and hold much more potency when it comes to buying power. Even when volume discounts aren’t offered, you can still benefit from cost savings, because the total investment is split between multiple parties as opposed to remaining solely on your shoulders.

2. Maintain Supplier and Vendor Relationships

Long-lasting relationships, especially with suppliers and vendors, tend to come with many benefits. It can save a lot of time and resources, for one, that you would otherwise waste looking for additional support. There’s also something to be said for the buildup of trust between loyal partners, as you can generally speak more freely and openly with a strategic partner you’ve dealt with over an extended period.

Perhaps even more relevant is the point that you’ll likely be evolving and scaling your operations as time goes on. This process will come naturally as your business grows, of course, but eventually, you’ll make an effort to improve efficiencies or output or just look for potential improvements to make. Having a strong bond or relationship with your vendors and suppliers means that you can include them in this process as well. You might even be able to stretch more enhancements out of helping them achieve optimizations too.

Indirect spending can also be reduced or mitigated by working with a single or small selection of vendors. The money you would spend on research, placing bids or seeking partners — and even varying prices from working with separate parties — can be outright eliminated. In fact, improving your procurement process can result in cost savings of 25 percent or more from indirect spending.

3. Consider Outsourcing

Outsourcing — in its many forms — may not be for everyone. However, if there’s one area of the business world where it can offer incredible benefits, it’s for small to mid-sized businesses. Generally, these operations don’t have access to extended resources, staff or equipment, so it’s difficult to keep up with the current state of the market and scale accordingly for more demanding customers.

Outsourcing involves balancing the work and operations so that a more qualified, capable party handles the tasks that your small business could not. There are many opportunities, service possibilities and providers out there, including outsourcing companies for finances, strategic analysis, IT, security and cloud computing solutions. Even supply and vendor management companies are available and will handle all duties related to logistics and inventory management.

Taking advantage of outsourcing also frees up the time of your limited staff so that you can handle more important or pressing matters. Taking into account the sheer number of responsibilities you have on your plate, that benefit in and of itself might be worth the investment.

4. Employ the Right Technologies

When researching potential suppliers, having access to the right software and systems can be instrumental. Even beyond that initial phase, software solutions can help create job postings and handle bidding processes, reference qualifications, submit and process payments and cover general vendor management duties. Not only will this assistance significantly cut costs associated with time and resource investments, but it will also simplify the entire process, eliminating most of the manual activities you’d otherwise have to follow.

Out of 200 businesses surveyed, 50.72 percent said their biggest tech adoption challenge was cost, being that the solutions they might be interested in are too expensive. A further 40.58 percent said that they didn’t have enough time to invest into finding or testing proper solutions, while 26.09 percent said the tech is too complicated.

If those businesses actually invested time into finding proper tech-based solutions, they’d also find cost savings, more free time — which could be used in better ways — and much easier process management. The reality is almost exactly the opposite of what many claimed in the survey.

When considering all these tips and potential procurement strategies, it becomes much easier to see how a business owner or small team could handle their duties. More importantly, it’s not just about getting the work done, but doing so efficiently and accurately. You need the proper time to research, trial and build a relationship with potential vendors, if only to improve the quality of your own products and services.

Procurement should never be an afterthought, even for small business.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

How To Stand Out in a Saturated Gig Economy

In 2017, more than 57 million people worked freelance in the US as short-term talent continues to be in high demand. As we weave ourselves deeper into the digital world and Internet of Things, the necessity to stick to one job for a lifetime simply doesn’t hold much relevance. The gig economy is booming and it is here to stay. However, with many people shifting to the remote-working freelance lifestyle, you will want to ensure you know exactly how to market yourself and stand out as a professional “gigger” in order to receive top-notch jobs that provides you with consistent work.

Market Yourself to Local Stores & Small Businesses

In the past, small businesses didn’t have access to a pool of freelancers who could do a variety of small, short-term jobs  for them. If they wanted a new marketing campaign they had to be prepared to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to a major agency or learn to do it themselves. However, even in a gig economy, many small businesses and local stores still don’t understand how to harness the power of the talent they have access to. Help them unlock this power by being the go-to freelancer in your area for all small businesses and local shops. Whether you are great at programming, interior design, copywriting, or even SEO, they likely need your skills and expertise and are willing to pay you for it. Begin cultivating this network by attending local small business meetings and chamber of commerce events in order to build your reputation as the go-to person in your local area for your particular skill. The benefit here is that word-of-mouth is so powerful that once you establish yourself in-person with these people, you will likely find that your outstanding service and work will speak for itself and they will do your marketing for you.

Develop a Personal Brand

Why do you think so many people around the world know what McDonald’s is? They have worked hard in establishing a very unique and consistent brand. If you want to be successful and stand out in the gig economy, you should do the same. You can begin doing this by always putting customer service and communication at the forefront of everything you do regarding freelance work. Communicating in real time increases engagement and builds community. Try to make the central focus of each gig to be on solving a problem for your client rather than simply performing a task and always focus on increasing your online visibility to ensure future clients have access to your work as well as customer reviews.

Building a Thriving Business

In the gig economy, you are your own boss and you should think of the work you do as running a business. Ensure that you ask yourself each day how you can improve your business operations, brand and overall efforts in ensuring customer satisfaction. By focusing on quality over quantity and making an effort to be personable and even in-person, you will be able to find lasting success in the saturated gig economy without having to worry about finding clients for years to come.

Guest Author, Jenny Holt, is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and ageing, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

Start Spreading The News: How To Get People Talking About Your New Business

Are you preparing to launch a new business, or you are trying to find your footing in the market? Whether your business plans are still in the pipeline, or you’re already up and running, it’s crucial to have plans in place to get your name out there. If you’re keen to get people talking and start enjoying the sound of the cash register ringing, here are some tips to bear in mind.

Drawing up your marketing strategy

If you plan to take control of marketing your business, the first thing to do is formulate a strategy. Marketing isn’t as simple as designing a website or printing out some branded business cards. To succeed, you have to be able to communicate with, and appeal to, your target audience and find a gap in the market. There are myriad marketing methods out there, and often, it’s best to focus on a few platforms that are likely to attract attention from the right people. You want to ensure that you’re reaching out to customers who are going to have a genuine interest in your products and services and your brand. Covering every method may seem like a good idea, but you’ll probably find that you’re wasting money on avenues that won’t deliver rewards. Think about your ideal customer, the demographic you’re aiming at, and the kinds of products or services you’re selling. If you’re selling clothing online and you’re hoping to attract females aged between 18 and 35, you’ll find that social media, email marketing, and SEO are a lot more effective than flyers or press adverts, for example. Use market research to determine which methods would be most beneficial for your brand. Once you have a strategy, the next step is to implement it.

Picture sourced from https://pixabay.com/en/arrows-marketing-strategy-startup-2029169/

Considering outsourcing

If you run a business, no matter how large or small, you may find that there are certain tasks that match your skill set, and others that cause you concern. If you don’t have experience in marketing and you don’t have in-house marketing executives, it makes sense to think about outsourcing this element of the business. Marketing can have such a significant impact on the success of a new venture, and it’s crucial to get it right. If you’re not keen on recruiting members of staff with marketing expertise, working with an external company may provide the ideal solution. Look for digital agency value add services or think about hiring freelancers if you need help in designing and implementing an introductory campaign. Outsourcing enables you to access to skills you need, but it can also save you money, as you won’t be adding to the payroll over a prolonged period of time. When looking for agencies or individuals, take your time to look at portfolios, previous clients, and reviews.

Image via https://pixabay.com/en/businessmen-communication-community-786071/

Getting your name out there

Once your plans are laid out, the next stage is to get your name out there. Use the findings of your research to attract the attention of those who are most likely to be interested in your brand. Send out emails, set up social media accounts, and make sure you have a great business website, which has mobile capabilities. Consumers spend more and more time online, and if you can direct traffic to your website, you’ll have a better chance of converting leads. Share posts about your new business, encourage followers to share your links, and optimize the content on your website to drive traffic from search engines. If you’re launching a new product, or you’re opening a business like a salon, a store, or a restaurant, it’s a fabulous idea to plan an event, and you can share the details and send out invitations through your website and social media platforms. When your website is up and running, and you’ve got active social media accounts and an SEO campaign in force, make use of analytics to track your progress. If you’re covering all bases in terms of social media, for example, analytic tools can help you determine which channels are most effective, and which are falling flat. Be prepared to tweak your strategy to keep it relevant, to iron out teething problems, and to make sure you’re giving customers what they want.

Image credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/findyoursearch/5202301465

Are you about to launch a new business, or are you in the process of trying to build your client base and inform people about the services or products you offer? Marketing plays a key role in establishing a brand and attracting attention from consumers. Hopefully, this guide will help you make the right calls and get people talking about your brilliant new business.