Can I do my own marketing for my game?

I get this question pretty regularly – can I do my own marketing for my video game? Or my games-industry adjacent organization?

Mainly this comes from smaller indie dev teams (with fewer than 10 people) but occasionally from larger groups.

The short answer: yes, of course.

The long answer: yes but you may not want to and here’s why (with a follow-up at the end – I know, this is biased, but I’ll try to be fair.)

There’s only so much time in a day

The biggest reason why a new or small organization may need an outside person or agency to help with their marketing is that we all have 24 hours in a day – what we do with them varies drastically.

A good marketing agency or individual can help prioritize and be politely annoying to keep marketing tasks on the radar. Typically for most businesses (including most marketing agencies), marketing tasks fall to the bottom while paid opportunities consistently rise to the top of the to-do list.

Half the battle with marketing is having a dedicated resource or at least having dedicated mind-space to sticking to the follow-through and maintaining your channels.

You’re going to only do the things you want to do

This is a typical small business problem in any industry – when a founder or a small team begins the company (or in this instance, is going to launch a new game), that team is going to do the things they want to do.

There can be a mismatch here in terms of what’s going to be effective in reaching your ideal audience and what you make time to do. Having phenomenal graphic design skills and creating amazing art assets to market your game isn’t going to do jack squat for you if you can’t get that art to the right sorts of people.

Marketing can be a lot like exercising

Anyone can devise their own exercise routine – you can do some googling, figure out a few that might work well for your body or your time constraints.

The problem is finding the motivation and figuring out what to do if you get hurt. Marketing can be really similar (see the first paragraph), you may not have the motivation and drive to do marketing tasks. But more importantly: what happens if you’re in a crisis and need help? Or what if you end up hurting yourself or straining your brand by doing some marketing exercises improperly? And how do you remember to make the time to judge what’s working and what’s not?

Find a marketing person or team that’s similar to a work-out coach or one of those fancy NASCAR teams that help put the wheels back on the car during breaks. I don’t know what those are called. All I know about NASCAR I learned from Ricky Bobby, which is not especially helpful here.

(UPDATE: It’s called a pit crew. The more you know)

The point being: it’s ideal to have an individual or a team that’s actively thinking about the marketing challenges and have experience in what works and what doesn’t. Especially if you’re doing paid campaigns. You can lose a lot of money really quickly on Facebook/Instagram and Google AdWords without professional guidance.

The caveats – when it’s a good idea to do your own marketing

Here’s when it might be a good idea to ignore everything I wrote previously and do your own marketing:

  • You can’t afford to pay someone else, either with money or equity
  • You know your niche extremely well – you know who you want to try to communicate with and how you’re going to communicate with them
  • You’ve got extremely good time management skills and motivation/don’t sleep
  • You’re really good at (and enjoy) writing
  • You’ve done marketing before and have plenty of experience in this area

And if you do need marketing help, I’ll be doing a follow-up post on what the pros and cons are to hiring a freelancer vs. hiring an agency vs. hiring someone internally.