Dark Alley Marketing: An indie game developer’s roadmap to the dark side of marketing
This book is the culmination of my years of working with independent games developers to help them promote their games and raise market awareness.
This is a high-level overview of the 5 most effective and accessible “alleys” of digital marketing, written in plain language. Anybody should be able to use the techniques laid out here to get sunlight on their project with a minimal budget, but this is geared especially toward indie developers. Game developers need all the time they can get to code and write their game. They have very little time left over to market it, so this book is dense with information.
Combining my passions and turning a lifelong hobby into a career has proven quite challenging. But my list of clients in the gaming industry is growing faster lately, and I’ve had the pleasure of contributing regularly to IndieWatch.net, one of the top indie gaming websites.
My marketing approach has developed into a book, Dark Alley Marketing, which will be released as a digital download in June, 2018.
I started blogging about games a few years ago, initial to simply post reviews on cheap indie games. As I continued, indie developers began sending me their games for review. Some of them were really good, but completely unknown. To help them grow their audiences, I began lending my services as a marketing coach and consultant.
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Capital One offered a chance to switch gears and exercise a much more technical skill set.
Still holding the title of Copywriter, I spent most of my time here sifting through email documents and ferreting out errors in grammar, formatting and code. Errors included the standard proofreading stuff: typos, sentence structure and word usage. But I also had to ensure that Capital One’s strict brand standards were upheld in every email that went out. Every line of fine print had to be examined and approved per Capital One’s legal department.
Additionally, our team made use of Movable Ink and live optimization for testing and continually improving our open and click rates. We relied very often on complicated testing procedures, sometimes testing dozens of subject line/pre-header/body/CTA combinations.
I also learned a great deal about project management, even contributing to new methods for organizing and clarifying the steps in existing processes and creating new ways to organize multiple steps in many simultaneous projects.
During my time here, the emails I worked on were viewed millions of times. No pressure though, right?
I was lucky to spend about seven months with KidKraft. They’re a mature company, but a recent paradigm shift involved forging a brand and streamlining processes. It was a crazy busy – but extremely satisfying – time to work there.
I did quite a few things at KidKraft, but my favorite had to be the videos. I had done some video work at American, but KidKraft was making a shift into more branded content. The video above was one that I wrote the script for, along with a series of how-to videos.
American Airlines gave me a little bit of leash to play with this ad. The boss said, “Here, do a combo ad for TSA preCheck and Mobile Passport Control. Let me know when it’s done.”
So like a good copywriter, I sat at my desk and pondered what was in it for my audience. How do these products benefit our customers in a tangible way?
The hassle of removing one’s shoes to walk through the see-you-naked scanner, then finding a place to put them back on afterward, is universal. People hate that. I know I do. So I came up with a clever ad to leverage our collective disdain of airport shoe removal.
This resulting ad may be my favorite piece from American. And it’s the only piece that never saw the light of day. I submitted it to my editor despite assurances from the designer that she would hate it.
Sure enough, she hated it. “It’s too cute,” she said. “These are government agencies we’re talking about. They don’t want cute.”
That was the end of it. My bosses seemed oblivious to the fact that we were targeting passengers, not government agencies. But I dare to believe the agencies themselves would have approved a bit of lighthearted ad copy anyway.
Oh well. More for my portfolio I guess.
Web copy is my jam. Coincidentally, it’s also my bread and butter.
Under creative direction from Schaefer Advertising, I wrote most of the web copy featured at hurstcc.com
I am a constant blogger of vids. I’ve been gaming my whole life, but only recently have figured out how to make a career of it.
I’ve contributed on Playmous Games’ Gemcrafter and Tap the Frog, but I have been most deeply involved with Dash Masters prior to its Android release.
During the months leading up to release, I acted as a consultant for Playmous, helping them with English translation and suggesting improvements for their marketing and in-game texts. I occasionally employed always-alluring alliteration. Like “Awesome arcade action!”
The description below the image is mostly mine. As is the brief plot introduction below:
A bit heavy perhaps, considering the cuteness of the protagonist. But I think it’s pretty good. And the client certainly liked it.
Another small contribution I made recently was for an indie developer Dann Sullivan. English is his second language and his Steam store ad was pretty difficult to understand. I quickly made an updated version and offered it to him to use. He was grateful and now I’m somebody in the Steam store too!
Not sure I would have went with “sophisticated traps,” but I kind of like it.
American Airlines is a top-rated employer for diversity and inclusion. This ad leverages their international presence to do a bit of bragging.
Coevál Studio – Press Kit
I recently rewrote and revoiced the press kit for Coevál Studio, a branding and design firm in Dallas.
The work Coevál does is absolutely top notch. They felt the copy on their website did not reflect this. I agreed to work with them to find a tone and language that more closely echoed their work.
Below I’ve posted and linked their original copy. They were pleased with my updated copy enough to hire me for several more jobs.
Client-submitted copy came across my desk for an infographic. Good lord, that copy needed help.
“Edit this!” my editor sternly decreed. “Track changes! We need this today, dammit!”
I was — and still am — cool about this daunting prospect. How to turn almost 400 words into tight, infographic-worthy copy that doesn’t read like an 8th grade book report?
“I’ll fix this, boss,” I said grimly, my jaw set and implacable. “But the client’s feelings? Well, I don’t know what will fix them when I’m done. Their copy is …”
“Garbage?” The boss finishes, already moving on to the next task.
I didn’t reply. I just did work. The result is what you see here.