I know creators who can talk for hours about their game – how they came up with the mechanics, which manufacturer they’ll be working with and why, how they came up with the names of each of the characters, deciding between plastic or metal coins, what the packaging will be like, who does the artwork, what artwork style they’ll be going with… you get the picture.
But when it comes to marketing for their Kickstarter board game launch, they’re at a complete loss.
Here’s a little secret: talking about your game is marketing!
More specifically, it’s called “content marketing”. There are many official definitions for content marketing, but to make matters easier, I like to describe it as systematically sharing thoughts on your own board game creation and launch process.
One of the many things that I love most about Kickstarter launches is that literally everything you’re doing is marketing for your launch.
- Posting in groups to ask whether people prefer artwork A or artwork B
- Testing and deciding the final mechanics of the game
- Different rounds of playtesting you’ve gone through
- Any evolution and changes of the game from its inception on paper to prototype
It’s all marketing!
There are three crucial factors to make your process work for you:
- Capture your process through words, video, images or sound. That’s your content!
- Release your content in various places (we’ll go through 10 examples below)
- Create a call to action to harness those interested in your board game and build your audience
10 Types Of Content To Market Your Board Game
The point of all this content is to get people to know you, understand your game, and trust that it is a quality product even before they buy it. This is even more important because Kickstarter launches are online – the vast majority of your audience will not have the opportunity to experience your game before they shell out money to support it.
Let’s go through the 10 types of content you can use to market your board game.
Blogs are one of the easiest ways to share your ideas. Even right now you’re reading a blog post; this particular post on the blog consists of my personal knowledge and ideas about using content to market board games.
Blogs are incredibly easy to set up, cheap to maintain, and have huge discoverability due to search engines like Google and Bing. Think about it, when you have a question or want to learn more about a particular topic, where do you go? During your younger days you might have gone to open an encyclopedia, but now, the vast majority of people around the world head straight to a search engine and type it in.
When it comes to board games, if someone has remotely heard of your game, is curious to learn about board games in a particular theme or with certain mechanics, you bet typing in a search engine will be one of the first things they do.
I’m willing to bet my copy of Feast for Odin that you’ve seen a board game reviewed by a third-party. Reviewers like Rahdo, Tantrum House, and Unfiltered Gamer, are now staples in the industry. With so many games coming out, it’s useful to get a third-party reviewer to weigh in on your board game. These reviewers are trusted by consumers and their opinion matters to the ultimate decision to buy (or not buy) a certain game.
For a new Kickstarter board game launch, practically every single successful launch has had some sort of third-party reviewer talk about their game. You can find these on individual Kickstarter pages or through searching on YouTube (for review videos) or blogs (for review posts).
Getting your game to a popular reviewer will not only mean another piece of content for you, but it will also mean a truckload of social proof of the legitimacy of your game.
The internet loves video. As a visual form of content marketing, videos are easy to consume, easy to comprehend and easy to share. Since Kickstarter launches are digital by nature, there are large swatches of the global gamer population that will not have had any physical experience with your game before you launch. No matter how many playtests that you hold or how many conventions you go to, it will still be difficult to reach as many people as you would want to with your game.
Videos will enable people anywhere to experience your game in a more immersive way and leave a long-lasting impression leading up to your launch. This is a tactic that Jay Cormier aptly uses to market his (now successful) game MIND MGMT. In his YouTube channel, Jay carefully goes through everything from talking with manufacturers to preparing for a convention to honing the art.
Although a little more difficult to set up, live streams have become an effective way to show off board games, its mechanics and the in-the-moment reactions of people actually playing the game. The basic idea is that you (and a group of people) can create a livestream of you playing your new game and people can watch it and chat with you in real time. This means that you will get the most pertinent questions at the right moment and viewers will be able to ask and get an answer right away.
Livestream content makes it really easy to sell your product since it will address the questions and qualms of a potential customer as they are considering the purchase of your game.
As of writing, podcasts is one of the fastest growing marketing channels. Search engines like Google are also quickly indexing podcast content to show up as answers. With the rise of smart home products infiltrating the homes, it will also make it more so that people will be listening to you in the home.
Since podcasts don’t require much from the listener, people can be listening to them on their commute, while raking leaves, or cooking dinner. It’s a form of content that’s incredibly convenient to consume for the listener and can be incredibly personal.
As a creator, you can talk to listeners just like they’re your best friend sitting next to you learning about your launch journey. By listening to podcasts, people get to know you, your demeanor and your personality through your voice. This is a tactic that Gabe Barrett from Board Game Design Lab employs through his podcast. With every new launch (he’s had a few under his belt!) he is sure to talk to his listeners about the process.
Print & Plays (PnP)
One of the most effective types of content for you to create for your launch is a PnP version of the game. Some of you might be thinking, “but Nalin, if they have the PnP version, why would they back my game on Kickstarter?”
The thing is, a PnP is a low-risk way for people to experience your board game. If they tried the PnP version and love the gameplay, they’re going to be more likely to back your project; they’re going to want the real version of the game, beautiful artwork, wooden meeples and sleeve-d cards and all. In the pre-launch phase, Derrick Hwang has expertly leveraged the PnP version of his game, Gunfighter, to gather about 1,200 emails for his list.
Think about those board game reviews on YouTube you’ve seen other people secure for their game – what’s the point of it? Well, the point is pretty much so that someone will vouch for your game and its mechanics – is it addictive? What’s the replayability? Do the mechanics work?
When you think about it this way, a PnP gets a game directly to people who might back your project. This will get people “addicted” (for lack of a better word) and want to be your backer.
This is also a great type of content for if you’re located in a remote location or in an area of the world that is not as fortunate to have a lot of opportunities for playtesting.
Interviews are a great way to leverage other people’s audience to show off your board game. There already exists people who write about, podcast about, record videos about board games and their creations. These channels in turn also have a dedicated fan base. By securing an interview, you can quickly establish credibility and gain exposure to other people’s audiences. If these people are interested in your game and what you have to say, they’ll be very interested in supporting you and your launch.
Back then salespeople used to go knocking on doors to try to sell something whether it was knives or vacuums. If someone opened their door and let the salesperson in, then boom, the salesperson is that much more likely to make the sale. The digital version of all this is email newsletters!
Having someone’s email is like being invited into their home so you can continue marketing your board game and convincing them that they want it. So by just having someone give you their email address, they’re already that much more likely to be a supporter. Now, it’s up to you to continue to create content – an email newsletter – that piques their interest and keeps them excited about your project.
Email lists are especially important and incredibly useful for Kickstarter campaign launches. You can continuously grow your email list over weeks or months and then send one single email to everyone to direct them to your page on launch day.
You’ve probably heard the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. One of the easiest ways to use content to market your board game is to post pictures to social media. This, coupled with good hashtags, will get you a lot of likes and follows with very low effort. The thing with social media though is that you need to be very consistent in your posting, and be in tune with what types of images people want to see.
Testimonials is an effective and low-cost type of content you can use for your launch. They’re low-cost since you can get it from anywhere – a person playtesting your game or an internet fan who has been following your journey from the start. They’re also highly effective because the FOMO (fear of missing out) effect. If people see that others love and are obsessed about a game, they’re also going to want to join in and get it too. If you look through videos and the campaign pages of the most successful board game Kickstarter projects, you’ll see that there are a lot of testimonials.
How Content Makes For A Successful Kickstarter Launch
Now that we’ve gone through 10 types of content that you can create to market your board game, let’s pivot our focus to how to harness this for success.
As we know, Kickstarter has 40 million monthly visitors and has an algorithm that pushes the right campaign to the right potential backers. Even a sliver of that traffic in your direction can make a huge impact on your project.
The trick to getting this algorithm to work for you? Understanding that Kickstarter only makes money if you make money. Therefore, if your project starts off with a lot of page visitors who turn into backers and funding, the algorithm will take notice. Then, it’ll start organically pushing more and more people to your project in an evergoing cycle.
Knowing this trick, the best way to leverage the Kickstarter algorithm for your campaign is to build up your audience before the launch and then making sure that everyone on your list is backing your game right at launch. Therefore, everything that you do with your content should be directed at building your community.
Use Content To Build Your Kickstarter Launch Community
Make sure that the people who are engaged with your stories, your questions, and your musings are able to sign up to follow you in your journey to launch. Give them an email list to sign up at and a Facebook group to join to continue learning and forming that relationship with you!
Communities on Facebook Groups, when used in tandem with email marketing, can be one of the best forms of marketing because building a community is so powerful if you get it right.
Once you offer enough value, garner respect and form a certain level of relationship, you can ask people to buy something you’ve made. And the thing is, many people will take you up on that since they trust that you will deliver on your promise to ship them the product and that the product is good.
Before you go, be sure to join the Kickstarter Board Game Marketing Facebook Group to learn the most up-to-date marketing methods for your board game!