In my previous blog post I talked about the 5 mistakes that developers were still making in their efforts to self publish and by the looks of the number of retweets and messages I got, it seems to have really struck a chord.
The blog post was written on the basis of one of my Chapters from my new book Front Towards Gamer: Videogame Marketing & PR for Indie Startups and Kickstarters. One of the points highlighted was product positioning, how to find that sweet spot in the marketplace is an important aspect of your communications plan. Sometimes the head down approach to getting a product ready to launch you can easily miss what’s going on around you. This includes what your competitors are doing. If you look at the amount of product clones cluttering up the Play Store and Apple app store, most of these are titles that are just chasing a quick buck based on a successful master product.
However, there are also products on next gen console, PC and other formats that are releasing into the marketplace that get lost because they are not defining the genre, they become a ‘me too’ product because their feature set is too similar to their closest competitor.
Ideally you want the shortest most direct positioning for your product you can create, a longer more drawn out positioning can be harder to remember and harder to define. A good example of positioning is to look at the TV listings for movies, listing the entire movie story line as described on the back of the DVD case isn’t possible so the TV stations find the crux of the films story, character and theme to position the content for the audience.
For example, Steven Spielberg in the summer of 1973 was signed up to direct Jaws, the horror film that did for beach holidays what Fatal Attraction did for having an affair. Positioning this film is fairly simple and direct – “When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.” You have the characters, the location and the dilemma all rolled into a short description. The same thing is what you’re trying to achieve when positioning your own product, the hook and the premise or feature need to stand out.
When you list your games features rated from most important to least important you then need to figure out what benefits or ‘positional advantages’ as they are known provide your potential customer, pre-emptive – cannot easily be countered or emulated by a competitor therefore making it unique, important – means what it says, it highlights its importance to the consumer, Distinctive – it’s a standout feature that sets it apart, sometimes to the point that it is unique.
If you’re still having trouble trying to figure out your products positioning it could mean that your feature set isn’t strong enough, on the other hand it could mean that you just can’t dial in to the strongest feature because there are lots of good product features. If this is the case then brainstorm with the rest of your team, get feedback and input from everyone in the development team and whiteboard the ideas over a meeting but for the sake of time try to limit the meeting to thirty minutes. Enforcing a time limit means you’ll be far more likely to reach a decision than kicking around too many ideas that inevitably lead to indecision, the absolute opposite of what you are trying to achieve.