Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Asking for Advice (and help): How Do We Get People to Know about Us?

Usually when I am writing this blog I am giving advice - and, believe me, I am just brimming with advice. However, today, I'm asking for it - advice, that is.

We started 7 Generation Games a few years ago with very little money - a Small Business Innovation Research grant, a Kickstarter campaign. As with any prototype, our first game was buggy and rough. Over the last couple of years, we have made MAJOR improvements as we had the time, and money.

For example, Fish Lake

We've had a couple of people stream our games on Twitch.

We have a website.

 Between our personal accounts and the company account we have over 20,000 twitter followers and over 30,000 instagram followers.

We just filmed (recorded) whatever the word is - a reality TV show pilot and while waiting for it to be edited we create a youtube channel of the raw footage.

 We have had people tell us if we only had games that ran on Chromebooks
So, we have Forgotten Trail and Making Camp - and Making Camp is even free !

 We have people tell us if we only had data to document math scores improved. So, we provided multiple studies.

If you only had games that could run on an iPad or Android devices  -- so we brought you the mobile versions of Making Camp.

Part of the problem is rising above the noise. There are millions of apps to download, literally. There are tens of thousands of really bad educational games.

Please don't try to sell me any magic SEO tricks. I get enough offers for those in my spam folder and I suspect if those tricks worked so well they wouldn't need to be sending me spam.

I've also had offers from people to do marketing consulting for me for $80- $100,000 a year.

The main thing that has worked for selling our games, or even getting people to try them, has been, and you will laugh when you read this - just asking random people on the Internet. 

Yes, it's true.

 What is related to our sales or free downloads going up is just putting up blog posts or Facebook posts and asking people like you to try out our games. Tomorrow is International Women's Day and I am trying to get 1,000 downloads just because I think that is a nice round number and it would show support for a business co-founded by two women in an industry that is very often not women-friendly. (Just read the tech news if you don't believe me.)

So, I'm asking three things.

First, please head over here and download a game. Buy one, download a free one or play Making Camp online. Check us out. If you like us, give us a nice review on Google Play or iTunes.

Second, subscribe to our youtube channel. We're interested in your comments on that, too.

Third, any suggestions that you have for getting the word out on our games, I'm truly interested, just as long as they don't involve porn or SEO.
------ NOTE ----

Over on Facebook, two people suggested we should sell t-shirts. Not letting any grass grow under my feet, here you go:

I was serious as a heart attack when I said I wanted your suggestions.
By popular demand - many fans of 7 Generation Games' Native American story lines, success in raising student math scores and merging math and history have wanted to support our work but they don't have children at home or work in schools. We've received requests for our staff t-shirts from people who might be great staff members but they live a thousand miles away. Here is your chance! Get the most popular shirt in the 7 Generation Games office, as rocked by Luis and AnnMaria and our youtube channel and soon to be reality TV show.
You can now buy the shirts here.


Unknown said...

Do you have a product or community manager? Even someone who could assume that role even a few hours a week? It's important to know who your users are so you know where and how to focus your best efforts. There are so many ways to do this, but it's important to find what works for you. :) Happy to chat further if you'd like.

Billy Verde said...

It's me againnn... let's see if I can get past moderation this time ;p

Basically you are right about the market being saturated (though not over saturated). The main thing one needs to in order to get noticed is to make a high quality product.

It's like MMA. To a casual MMA viewer they will think that cage fighting is just throwing hands and rolling around grabbing each others' body parts. But to the technition or the afficianado (can't be bothered to spell today) - they will see much more. And I think that your games are being made without realizing how far game design has come. It has evolved as much as MMA has evolved times 10.

The game design of your products is a decade old at least. This is 2017, kids are already using virtual reality. You've got to improve this game design in order to get people to notice. And once real gamers notice they will make youtube videos about it - voluntarily. People like Scott Manly who regularly gives exposure (along with his honest opinions) to games that interest him. Period.

So you have to make the game interest people. And it all starts with game design. And that is the area that needs the most improvement at 7gen. Game design.

Just like you show respect to cage or the dojo you've got to pay respect to this art form known as game design. And honestly, the younger your audience, the more PERFECT people expect your product to be because of how lucrative that market is for bigger companies like Blizzard and Nintendo.

If you wanted to take an easier path you'd be better off making nostalgia games for adults 30 years and over.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

No, we do not. Yes, I'd love to talk to you. My email is annmaria@7generationgames.com

Anonymous said...

I have to say it at the risk of being indelicate, but Ronda should tweet about it. Perhaps she could even visit schools to promote it and film those visits.

ana milena said...

Hi My name is Ana and I am a graphic designer that just moved to Los Angeles. As a graphic designer, I had to find ways to promote myself not only to find clients but to grow my network. I noticed that I learned how to use social media by promoting with engaging videos and using tags (which helped me get some clients) however it wasn't enough. I noticed that the more I went to events and network with people, talked about my service and pass cards around was when I started getting a bit more noticed. Of course I am still growing but I have grown a lot coming from nothing. My suggestion would be doing a survey by the beach in Santa Monica. Talk to people and ask questions about what type of apps they downloading and if they heard about 7gengames. Specially family with kids! Most people won't know about something until you tell them and when I visited Santa Monica I had one person come up to me to do a survey and therefore I downloaded their product. I think you can get interns to do that and it won't be a waste at all. Even though we are in a generation that everything is done by computers sometimes and good to go back to the face to face interaction and sell your product that way!


Ps. I downloaded your game and it's been fun!

Mark said...

Would it be feasible to create your games for a Canadian market? In Nova Scotia we seem to follow the lead of bigger provinces, such as Alberta and Ontario. Perhaps if you start working with the smaller Maritime Provinces and the Mi'kmaq communities the bigger provinces would follow suit. Conquer Canada first!

Sylver said...

A few suggestions:

1. Check out Patrick McKenzie's blog on how he developed and marketed his Bingo Card creator.

He goes into excruciating details on how he marketed his small software (a simple piece of software to generate and print Bingo cards) starting with a $60 budget. He discloses pretty much everything, including sales figures, Google Adwords spending and strategies, what marketing worked and what didn't, AB testing, building his customer list etc. and grew his small Bingo Card enough to quit his day job. (Oh, and yes, he explains what he did in terms of SEO too, and no, he didn't hire a bunch of Vegas strippers to do it. If you really don't want to read about the SEO bit, you can skip that ;)

He moved on to bigger and better things a few years ago, but all the data on his Bingo business is still available online (http://www.kalzumeus.com/start-here-if-youre-new)

It's a compelling read, and since you are in a somewhat similar market (part of your market is teachers), I expect you will find a lot of actionable info.

2. Looking at your video, there seems to be a message/targeting issue:
The video is presenting the game, as a game. It feels like you are trying to convince the viewer to play the game. And I am sure you are well aware your game is not yet on par with modern big-budget games in terms of graphics, experience, etc. So why would students/parents/teachers buy it?

The education benefits, of course: nobody gets better at Math playing Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. The point of your games is education. What makes your game worthwhile is that "players" will improve their math scores, have a easier time in school and get better jobs after they graduate.

You may want to rework your message on what the target buyer gets from the game:
- Student: "Do you have trouble with math? You can play our games and ace your next test. Most of our game players improve their school results by X in Y months. All you have to do is play the game and your real life scores will improve" or "Fancy being unemployed when you grow up? No? Well, you could get real good at math now and ace school just by playing this game a few times a week"
- parents: "Is your kid failing Math? Understanding Math is the key to getting through school and getting a good job. Our games are proven to ..."
- Teachers: "Too many students are failing math? We can help. Student who play our math games increase their grades & attendance by..."

Don't sell the game, sell the benefits. And do separate marketing to target separate audiences. Students, parents, teachers all have different reasons for needing your games, so you might want to do some testing to see what gets their attention.

Unknown said...

You may be able to get air time being interviewed on an educational network like PBS. I'm so sorry for not having better advice. I've been trying so hard to get attention from the right people too. I'm one of the best and most knowledgeable boxing and kickboxing coaches in the world, trained national champions and world competitors with minimal time and resources, was national champion, qualified for Team USA twice and fought for Team USA; but I could never get the attention I needed. For example, the amount of sponsorship money I received for being on Team USA was $25, because I was unknown. If you are ever interested, I would promote your educational games for free when I finally get some of the exposure we are both looking for. My email is evanluna1988@outlook.com if you ever see a way I can help, because it's my belief that knowledge and values are the key for solving the biggest issues.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

I am stealing that line "No one gets better at math by playing Call of Duty"

Anonymous said...

As with a lot of commenters here, I haven't really been in your position - but my free advice would be to get in touch with other minority tech entrepreneurs/venture capitalists/journalists - they may not be the right match for you, but will be way better at promoting your brand to the people who are a good match and can invest in/promote your company. Try and network with people like @laurawp @kimberlybryant @laura @anildash @nitashatiku @johnmaeda and other prominent tech industry voices... All the best!

Anonymous said...

First off I'm so glad I finally sound something thay is authentic which is your games, i know they are great because you are a credible person based on experience, background, and education. I will say that when i become a teacher in a few years i will buy these games because they do make kids smarter. I think to get people to know more about your games is find a way to make it visible more to the public. They way i found out about your games was through digging through the internet.