Over the past year, I have blogged several times on the importance of creating a robust go-to-market strategy and marketing plan for social games. A recent experience with some great advertising reminded me of a key ingredient necessary for an effective advertising program: a good product that delivers what you are advertising.
Microsoft has been running what I feel is a very effective television advertising campaign for Bing. It is effectively like the old Pepsi commercials, featuring a blind taste test in which users (obviously paid actors) prefer Bing’s results to those of Google. Even though rationally I understood the test was “fixed,” I decided to change the default search engine on one of my computers to Bing. The logic that it might be better convinced me to try, which exactly was the goal of the campaign. I was a loyal Google user for at least five years, so getting me to change was a huge success for Microsoft (and the millions of other consumers who probably did the same thing).
Unfortunately for Microsoft, after three or four searches I switched back to Google because the Bing results were so inferior (in fact, for all but one of the searches I had to go to Google and run the same search to find the result I needed). The goal of this post is not to argue the relative merits of Google versus Bing. I do not think most of my readers really care which is better nor will it affect their business.
What I think is crucial is the importance of having a product that lives up to the marketing. You can create brilliant ads for your game but if the product is inferior to other games (and we live in a very competitive industry), the ad campaign is worthless.
To succeed, you need to focus on and start with creating a great product that is better than the competition (not redundant, as there are already a lot of great products on the market, yours has to be better). Once you have that great game, then it is important to have a robust and solid launch plan to ensure people find your product (because, conversely, there millions of great games that nobody knows about). The key thing is the order: first you need a great product. Then, you need great marketing.