How Small Organizations Can Develop a Gaming Strategy

While it’s clear that the gaming world has opened up as a major marketing avenue, marketers at smaller organizations often have trouble figuring out how to make the most of the opportunity. If it’s a matter of convincing others in your organization that there is an opportunity, we’ve got that covered here. But once your brand gets to the point of knowing you want to connect to the gaming world, taking those first steps can be hard.

Smaller brands generally need to be more tactical in how they apply their budget. You may find yourself wondering how you can effectively cut through the noisy, large-scale activations. Or you might be at a loss in understanding what even is possible within the gaming world. Sure, brands can make headlines with ongoing esports partnerships and in-game collaborations, but that likely is too large-scale for most brands to achieve.

How Small Brands Can Participate

So, what else is out there? Do you need to design a game? Should you be on Twitch? Do you need to invest in expensive market research just to take the first step? These all seem like big investments of time and resources. How do you know what will be worthwhile?

At the end of the day, the key to developing a gaming strategy is to find your focus. Our guide for smaller organizations will help you get that focus and develop a marketing strategy for the gaming audience.

1. Develop your vision.

It helps to go back to basics and reflect on what you are trying to achieve and what success would like for you. This is the cornerstone of any strategic development, and you’re likely already in good practice. Apply an additional component to this stage to hone in on your vision: what is your reason for being in gaming?

This can be answered with a business goal, such as expanding your current consumer base, but you also need to get to the root of why you want to get involved with gaming in particular as opposed to another media affinity group. Is it something about the gaming audience that your brand connects with? Do you think your product adds immense value to gaming as an activity? Do you want to showcase your brand’s own personality and love of games?

No matter your reason, you need a clear idea of where you want to go and what you want to achieve in gaming. Understanding your business goals and underlying purpose in games will steer you towards developing your KPIs for any activation.

Once you have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, you’ll take the first steps in the right direction.

2. Take stock of your marketing strengths.

Once you have your north star, it’s time to look at where you’re starting from. It’s useful to review your current audience research and consumer data. You don’t want to alienate your current audience, nor set up expectations for newcomers that don’t align with the products and services you already offer.

If you don’t have a keen understanding of your current audience, now may be the time to invest in some audience research to better inform all of your marketing strategies. It doesn’t have to be expensive market research either. See what your customers are talking about by scanning through social, check in on any ongoing satisfaction surveys, and read up on freely available industry reports about other brands in your vertical.

It’s also worth assessing your past and current marketing plans overall. What have you done well in the past? What types of marketing strategies do you already have experience in? It’s easier to work within your strong suits. For instance, if you’re already experienced in running influencer campaigns, you expand to working with gaming influencers.

Also, consider what hasn’t worked well in the past. If you’ve struggled to develop original video content, for instance, it may not be worth the additional effort and expenses to try that again while also juggling an entirely new audience target.

Overall, your goal isn’t to reinvent the wheel. Take stock and play to your strengths.

3. Learn the game marketing landscape.

Now that you know where you stand and where you ultimately want to go, it’s time to survey the landscape. You’ll be better equipped to develop a strategy if you start building an awareness of what is going on in the gaming space. Regularly following gaming culture editorials like Eurogamer or industry sites like GamesIndustry.Biz will help you maintain an overview of major events and trends.

It’s also important to keep an eye on marketing activations in the space that you like. Take note of the specific aspects of the campaigns you like. Do you appreciate a highly polished visual campaign? Or maybe it’s a particular tone and personality of a piece of content? Figure out the creative and logistic features that inspire you.

From that inspiration, return to your reflections from step 2. Do you actually have the capacity to do something similar? While many brands might want to do a splashy activation in Fortnite, bespoke campaigns of that scale require a large amount of resources. Instead, consider where you can possibly scale down these activations to meet your own brand’s capabilities.

For example, an official, ongoing event like the DC Comics x Fortnite collaboration is likely out of reach, but you like the visual personality and interactive elements of the campaign. Instead, you can create a smaller, independent event using the game’s Creative Mode. Or if you mostly care about getting in front of the same audience, consider sponsoring local Fortnite tournaments to connect with the community.

By keeping an eye on the gaming landscape, you’ll be able to get a better idea of the wide realm of possibilities and find more suitable opportunities for your brand.

4. Test and assess.

Like any strategic plan, it can take a bit of trial and error before you really nail it. You may be tempted to get it perfect on the first try, which might lead you to put all your resources into a plan that has yet to be fully optimized. Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, try out a series of small activations and assess in between them. By trying out multiple lower-stakes activations, you can hone in your unique sweet spot for engaging in the gaming ecosystem.

Remember, the best gaming activation isn’t just the biggest one. Smaller brands can still meaningfully engage with the gaming audience. Follow this guide and you’ll be on the path to finding the intersection between your brand budget, capabilities, and the gaming audience’s needs.

Still need help getting started? Try our self-assessment audit template to sort through your brand’s content capabilities.