Monte Cook (designer of Numenera and a principal designer of Dungeons & Dragons 3.0) founded Monte Cook Games. Monte and MCG have contributed several spectacular Bundle of Holding offers, including Numenera (April 2014), Ptolus & Malhavoc (August 2014), and the hugely successful The Strange Bundle (October 2015). Enthusiastic promotion of each of these offers was key to their great success.
We asked Monte to share his techniques for the benefit of future Bundle of Holding contributors — and for all publishers who want to spread the word about their game to a wide audience.
You’re a publisher, and the Bundle of Holding has put your product into a bundle offer for customers. Great! Nothing to do but sit back and watch the sales come in, right?
Of course not. The Bundle of Holding has its own followers, which is great, because through them you can reach customers you’ve never reach on your own, and they might just remain your customers afterward. That’s one of the reasons you’re part of the program, right? But that’s just the beginning. No one can reach your audience better than you. So how do you do it?
Social media. Your own website. Any other venue you have to communicate with potential customers online. Share the link to the bundle offer page like there’s no tomorrow. People online want to act immediately. That’s one of the brilliant things about the Bundle of Holding — there’s no lead-up time in which an interested customer might forget about the offer, or lose the link. It launches, and there’s immediate an action that a customer can take: Click the link. Buy your product.
As you prepare to promote your bundle, here’s a few things to keep in mind:
Don’t just provide a link. Sure, that’s a fine way to start out your series of promotions. (Yes, series. To do this right, you’re in for the long haul.) You can have your first tweet or post say, “Check it out, our awesome game is the latest Bundle of Holding.” But after that, you’re going to have to get more interesting. You need to tell the reader why they should care that it’s a bundle offer. Use the coolest factors of your game to punch it up. For our bundle for The Strange we might say in a tweet, “The Strange: Where worlds of fiction become reality, waiting for you to explore.” And then we included a link to the bundle. Because you always, always, always give them a link to click on.
Who knows, if you say something interesting enough, people might just share or retweet you, spreading the word even farther.
Tell them why now is the right time. Bundles are only available for a short time. It’s a limited offer, and your customers need to know that they need to act now or they’ll miss out on the offer.
Push the charity. One of the great things about Bundle of Holding is that some of the proceeds go to a favorite charity. That’s good for all concerned. You’re helping the charity, and your customers are helping the charity. So don’t forget to remind people about that fact. Maybe someone was on the fence before about buying your game and finding out that some of the money they plunk down will go to Doctors Without Borders (or whatever charity was chosen). That’s enough to push them over the edge. Everyone wins.
Use artwork. You’ve got all this great artwork for your game. Basically every social media venue you might use makes it really easy to add an image to your post. Artwork catches people’s eye — that’s why you commissioned the talented artist to create it for you in the first place. And if you’re active on Instagram or Pinterest where images are the thing, well, this gives you the opportunity to use your images to spread the word of your bundle there too.
Time things just right. And then do it again. This is the one you’re going to disagree with me about, but trust me, it’s the truth. You have to make these promotional posts a lot. It’s not enough to make one tweet and call it good. Casual Twitter users don’t even check the site every day. By the time they do, your one tweet will be buried deep down in their feed. Even hardcore users typically check it once per day. But do they check it in the evening? Too bad, your tweet was posted in the morning and now it’s buried. That means you need to tweet about it in the morning and the evening to even catch a hardcore user for sure.
What’s more, even if your tweet shows up in their feed, they might not notice it. Or they might notice, but not click because they’re uncertain. Or they are certain, and intend to go back and click on the link later, but then forget. That means the typical potential customer needs to see that message multiple times to hook them. If your bundle lasts two weeks, you should be posting about it every day.
The same rules apply to Facebook, although you can get away with just one post a day on that site because your post is probably less likely to get lost in a Facebook feed.
Now, you might be afraid you’re spamming your followers with this kind of constant posting. Well, remember, only you are going to see every post you make. In order to get all your followers to see it at least once, you’re going to end up having some of your followers see it many times. That means you’ve got to vary your message, vary your artwork, and so on. That way it’s interesting for everyone.
Write a blog. Social media’s great, but it’s not the only venue you’ve got. Post a blog or article on your own website. Now, you might think, aren’t I just talking to my existing customers on my site? They’ve already bought my game. Well, if you’re in the enviable position of having already sold your game to every single person who comes (or will come) to your website (or reads your Facebook page, or follows your tweets), then congratulations. But for the rest of us, there’s plenty of people who are still discovering the games we create, and the Bundle of Holding is often a fantastic way for a new customer to take a chance and give the game a try.
Think outside the box. When I had a Bundle of Holding offer for my product, Ptolus, I made a “side” offering to one lucky customer who purchased the entire collection. That person got a personal package from me with some one-of-a-kind goodies like original Ptolus maps, character sheets, notes, and so on. This turned out to be a popular way to get some attention and get people to contribute more than the minimum price. [Editor’s note: After Monte’s success with this promotion, several publishers who contributed later offers have provided a prize to one customer, chosen at random, who purchases the entire collection.]
Lastly, remember what might seem like shameless promotion isn’t. The Bundle of Holding is a fantastic offer for your customers. You are, in fact, doing interested gamers a favor by helping them find out about it. When it’s over, they’re going to have to pay full price (and none of it goes to charity) so it really is a fantastic opportunity.