How Playful Is Your Business? The Art Of Playful Business.




I’d like you to cast your mind back to the playground. Remember what it was like? The joy of discovery, the fun of testing your limits and the freedom of trying out new things. Play is open and free. There is no beginning or end. There are no tests to take and no boxes to tick. Most of all it’s fun, intoxicating and exciting.

The process is the magic

When you play, you take a risk; you are never sure if it will work out or not. It’s joyful and very often painful. How many trips did you make to the ER as a kid. Those scars became war wounds to show off to your friends! The process is the magic.

Starting a business is the same; it’s another game. There are infinite opportunities, infinite ways to fail and infinite ways to succeed.

Building, like play, is revolutionary. You break and remake the world each time. It’s risky. It hurts. And there are no cushions.

When building a company it’s far too easy to become blinkered. Stuck in your own way of doing it right. Instead of being open, you focus inwards and dig in. Your vision has blinded you. It’s your inspiration as well as your curse.

Tunnel vision cuts you off from your creativity. It cuts you off from your customers. It takes them out of the process. It breaks teams and it fractures trust. And it smashes great ideas into smithereens.

Be playful

My advice: Be playful. Share the magic of the process. Start talking to your users from day one. Do it now. Take a risk. Tell the truth and put your hads up if things go wrong. You want to be noticed right? You want people to pick you? You want to play with the cool folks now. Go back to the playground!

Don’t talk tech

Have conversations. Think about the best discussions you’ve ever had and set them as examples for your business. Make sure you bring your business and marketing activities together strategically. Don’t have them look like vegetable soup. Have a plan. Execute this plan daily and review it regularly.

So how playful is your business?

When you’ve built a community that cares about you; you’re onto something special. And you can’t do that by being tunnelled visioned. Don’t go back to blinkered. Make sure to play wrong and invite me to participate. I’ll see you there!

– This post first appeared on as my response to the CounterPlay Conference.

Image by Jenny Downing 

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Are you spinning on the same step?



Finding ways past old problems.

Are you spinning on the same step?


This week I have been thinking about blocks. The things that get in your way. The annoying old problems that cause frustration in your business. These blocks might be a way of thinking, a skill you don’t have, or a skill set you need to develop. All these problems result in a lack of productivity and cause no end of stress; what my Dad would describe as “spinning on the same step”. If you identify with this experience, I hope this post will help you find a way forward.


Blocks to progress


Working with the Animation Workshop as business development advisor, reminded me of the same blocks I encountered when building  my own business.  Before Christmas, I mentored nine startup teams, working across games, apps, film and animation. The quality of their work was truly amazing.  The technology solutions were well thought out as were the game mechanics and the story worlds. But two areas caused the most problems; marketing and business model.

Many times, these problems arise  from lack of time and lack of planning. There is so much to do if you are a one or two person team. It is difficult to move past your core competences; the things you gain the most enjoyment from. So it’s understandable to avoid these areas and spend all your time on the things you love.


Finding Ways Past Old Problems


Next time you find yourself spinning on the same step, ask yourself the question, am I moving forward? If not, then make a list.

  • List of people who can help you in that area – business, marketing, administration or accounts.
  • Is there a great podcast you can listen to?
  • Is there a friend who can help devise a plan or give good feedback.
  • Could you hire a professional for a few hours each week to get you started.

If you are in the happy circumstance of sharing your work space:

  • Could you all club together and hire a professional for a day or two each week.
  • Further, why not negotiate a better rate if 5 companies choose the same accountants firm for example.
  • A weekly group seminar, where learning gained from one company could be shared with others would also be invaluable.

Online resources


There are some great online resources to find professional help for short, medium and long-term projects. We have used all three over the years and found them very useful.

ODesk – great for freelancers and outsourcing  teams.

ELance – for freelancers and outsourcing teams.

Fiverr – great for small projects, design, animation, video or copy writing.

Download our free online marketing plan


To help you fix the marketing problem, here is a plan I’ve developed for creatives. It’s a simple plan with two or three activities each day. In the beginning, it should take about an hour of your time. Download my Online-Marketing-Plan-For-Creatives. Let me know if it  helped you move forward!


Conclusion: Ask for help early


The key to finding ways past old problems is taking action. Ask for help today. There’s no point wasting more time and growing more grey hairs! As the Gaelic proverb goes,

 Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine” – we all depend on each other.

What do you guys think? Are you good at finding ways past old problems? Have you worked out ways to stop spinning on the same step? What tips and advice could you share with us? I’m very happy to hear them and share your experiences.


Arsenal Viborg


Many thanks

To all the companies in The Arsenal, thanks for sharing your vision with me. It was a pleasure and an honour to work with you all. Big shout out to Emil and Isak for the invitation and for all your help along the way.

Images 1 (c) InnerUs by Fruzsina Gaal

Image 2. (c) The Arsenal by Mary Carty


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Dodocase: Extinct No More


Figure 1. iPad press release

It’s early May 2010. I’m in San Francisco at the Web 2.0 conference. With me are some colleagues and friends from across the island of Ireland, all startups on a mission to learn, network, and for many, to get their hands on the most coveted piece of technology launched only weeks before; the iPad.

Knowing the conference coincided with the launch, my friends pre ordered their model and eagerly waited in line with thousands others, all to be among the very first iPad owners in the world. Some came back with big smiles on their faces, others not so, with demand far out stripping supply, even with a pre order in!

So here we were, at breaks between keynotes and workshops, oohing and aahing at this marvellous tablet, acting like kids waiting for our turn; wishing we’d been as organised. Not for us, the bragging rights, we’d have to wait months for the European launch.

Figure 2. iPad unveiled

iPad hype was everywhere. The excitement was amazing; news bulletins across the world covered the story and interviewed eager customers. The iPad was a hit; a game changer, and Steve Jobs, had yet again, confounded the globe with this sleek piece of savy design and engineering.

Across town, the mood was far less celebratory and the future looked grim for another industry. Unknown to many, San Francisco was once the bookbinding capital of the USA. The remaining companies were a dying breed until something unexpected happened, the arrival of the iPad. So, how could this cutting edge piece of technology help a dying industry? Let’s see!

A young entrepreneur, Patrick Buckley, watched Apple’s product announcement that year. Somewhere between then and launch day an idea struck. If people were prepared to pay $500 for the most coveted cult item of the decade; then surely these same folks would pay for a custom made cover to protect their device. What if the sleeve was disguised as a beautiful book cover and made by professional artisans? Each cover would be unique, bringing with it a quality born from a centuries old tradition.

Buckley decided to use this idea as his entry to a new businesses competition sponsored by and Tim Ferris. The goal was to build the most successful company using Shopify’s eCommerce platform with winner receiving $100,000. And so, Buckley set up first Shopify shop. He found a bookbinder partner (one of only three left in the city) and two prototype were made. In that “quick and dirty” fashion, DODOcase was born alongside the iPad in April 2010.

Figure 3. DShopify eCommerce platform 

“We create stylish cases and sleeves designed to disguise your portable technology with classic elegance and functionality”- DODOcase website.

But would this concept work and would customers buy it at a price point necessary to cover the costs? Like any good Lean Startup, DODOcase used the lines of excited iPad buyers to product test their cases and gauge interest, handing out flyers at Apple store across the US, complete with coupon codes.

And sure enough, iPad lovers went crazy for the beauty and the uniqueness of these sleeves, with one reviewer describing them as “the Roles Royce” of iPad covers. Along with this, DODOcase sent samples to celebrities, like Ditta Von Tease, who endorsed the product. Her testimonial, along with rave reviews from bloggers and customers across the globe quickly appeared on the website. One blog post alone generated 1,500 sales.


Figure 4. DODOcase iPad cover

This fledgling business idea, born out of innovation and a desire to preserve an old tradition, had the five key ingredients to make it an instant hit.

• Product: A great product with a great story.

• Positioning: a bespoke, hand crafted product aligned to the smartest, most innovative and most wanted tech product.

• Need: customers wanted to save their fragile tablet from damage and if this protection was as stylish as the iPad itself, then added bonus.

• A cause: the survival of the bookbinding industry in San Francisco, the passing on of centuries old skills. Supporters and customers were encouraged to donate to train more professionals.

• Great branding: The name the message, the logo and the look and feel of the site all gave a consistent message of a must-have premium brand object.

The decision to focus on the product was a master stroke. Instead of spending money the company did not have on mock ups, design and coding, they saved time and resources by concentrating on the core product and marketing it. The decision to use Spotify as their eCommerce partner paid off in spades, with DODOCase making almost $1 million dollars within three months. Here’s how founder Buckley describes it:

“I’m an engineer by training but I’m not a programmer and I wanted to be able to focus on what I was good at and Shopify was great because they let me do that, really. They took all of the high-tech out of business and I was able to focus on the … the low-tech part of it.”

Shopify’s solution was the perfect fit for DODOcase. The seamless design and intuitive shopping cart system, ensured users a great experience. It mirrored the same design and user sensibilities of the product itself. The design and the message were perfectly balanced, all pointing to a product of real value and exclusivity. To this day, DODOcase have continued to use Shopify with great success. At the same time, the PR and marketing from winning the contest also boosted DODOcase’s profile.

Figure 5. DODOcase stamp of excellence

So why is all this important? For me DODOcase points to a new way for creatives and startups to approach building businesses in this new economy, using this new paradigm; marrying craft with technology, delighting customers and adding value.

At first glance, bookbinding and cutting edge technology feels like an oxymoron. But looking at the whole landscape and the world around us, gives great insight. The fate of newspapers and the printed word had been bemoaned for years and the folks at DODOcase were well aware of these trends. It was a gamble but one that was tested and tweaked before spending lots of money or resources. Initial marketing for the company only cost $500, consisting of commissions to the college students from sales.

What DODOcase did back then seems so obvious now. Sitting at every table around me, as I write in a local café, are tablets and smart phones of all descriptions and sizes. But DODOcase got there early. They were bold enough to anticipate the future, to capitalize on emerging trends. Thus, understanding the need, the price customers were willing to pay and creating a buzz around their handmade product, leveraged from the buzz and excitement of the iPad launch.

DODOcase made great use of the web too, capitalizing on reviews, blog posts and mentions. As Buckley describes, “If you can figure out a way to build a business that utilizes the power of the internet as a communications tool to reach customers and you have a really awesome physical product that people want to buy, then you should use one
to leverage the other, in my opinion.”

DODOcase’s branding captured the product style and the product message perfectly, capitpulting a lowly iPad cover into the position of a bespoke must have brand.

As a runaway success, bridging the old and the new, DODOcase’s story was a ray of hope amongst all the negativity about the demise of books and old manufacturing practices. Hence, lots of headlines in newspapers and journals of record further boosting their reputation. Within three months of launch, DODOcase’s bookbinding partner hired14 new employees to fulfill the demand.

And so bookbinding was saved from extinction and a wonderful company continues to grow and prosper. Let’s see how a DODOcase is made, shall we?

DODOcase and the Art of the Book. Handcrafted in America. from DODOcase on Vimeo.


Your comments are much appreciated, what do you think of DODOcase and their approach to building a new business?


Article credits:

Shopify eCommerce store examples here 

iPad launch image thanks to

Full iPad 1 Press Release here

Quotes from DODOcase founder Patrick Buckley, from interview on Full interview here.

DODOCase image and stamp thanks to

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My Glorious Captcha Find.


Find of the day! Not so wonderful for the blog I found it on though. Having folks type in a captcha to post a comment will only serve to send them away. Sadly keeping that golden nugget of information in their heads and not sharing the conversation with you.

And as wonderful a find as it was, I still didn’t post my comment. Shame really. As I wanted to complement the blogger on a very entertaining piece of writing. Lesson learned ‘eh!

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Launch Day Blues: And No One Came


A few weeks back, I was invited to contribute a post for The Software Developer’s Journal. I’m delighted to say the feedback has been amazing; a condensed MBA according @adityamenon! Here it is in full, I hope you get a moment to add your feedback in the comments below.


For many games studios, it’s a chicken and egg problem. A small team with a brilliant idea, then design, code, tweak, more code, more tweaks and finally, that magical day arrives. Launch day. Whew! But the sigh is very short lived. No one knows about your game.

If this is your scenario or soon to become your scenario, don’t worry, you are not alone. Here are some tips and advice to help break through the noise, get your game noticed and build a rabid fan base you own.

To do this, you need social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram and your company website or blog. Most of these platforms you probably use already. The other thing you need is some imagination and consistency. Let’s get started.

Get talking

As soon as you have drafted the very first sketches of your game, get talking – on your website, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram. Show the sketches, tell the story. Tell me about you and your team. Who are you? Let your users in. Allow these users to sign up to your news feed. Give these amazing first users compelling reasons why they should become part of your team in the first place.

Why not document your game journey from sketch, to demo, to launch in tiny video vignettes or use Why not? You have all the content, fantastic content from now to well past launch day. Make a list of every type of post, content, mad idea you can share. No idea is off limits at this stage. Write it up and post daily. Do it now. Build buzz from day one.

Target users

In building this buzz, be clear to go where your users are online. If your target audience for example are female, late teens to early 30s, they are on Facebook. Go there. Likewise, investigate where your user demographic are online and share the best content you have. Make sure to bring these users back to your website for more information and try not to replicate the same content on too many platforms at once. Posting the same content across all your social media channels looks lazy. Remember to keep people engaged and interested. Don’t drive them away.

Figure 1: Who is your target?

Think about the type of conversations you can have with these users over time. The process of game making is fascinating to game players. And it is lovely to be in on the action early. Also, consider that these users, if you give them a great experience, will be your user for life, long after this particular game. You can count on them to return to your next title and the next and they will tell others about you. This is a long-term, sustainable, business development strategy. Done well, it will reward your company into the future.

Think laterally

Some of the smartest marketing campaigns have come about by chance; from a random fan video, to larger staged events with thousands of people. As a small company without a revenue stream or investment, you need to think smart. Smart marketing tactics. Why not get early versions of your game projected on walls of abandoned buildings and bring your early adopters in, by invite only, to experience your game. Make some videos. Get testimonials. Record the spirit of the game. Post this content online and bring real world and online together. Once you make any changes or add something new, do the same again.

Think of ways your embryonic game could be shared and played in regions outside your own county. Could you appoint “your game name ambassadors” in countries you want to launch into? Get them to blog and guest post on your website. Maybe they can help you do user tests and talk to people face to face where they are. Make it fun. Share.

Leads, conversion and sales

How can you get leads of potential users in the door? Think of the influencers. For every niche and industry under the sun, there are influential people who spot the trends, point the way forward and always find the cool stuff first. Get to know these people. Follow them. Begin a conversation. Could you appoint an “influencer board” to your team, a group of well clued-in folk who will tell others about you and your game. Make a list. Journalists, bloggers, trend spotters. Think laterally could you make use of trend spotters’ form outside your industry? Start today.

What will I do now?

Influencers can help you to find new leads. Once these new leads come in your door what do you want them to do NEXT? Do you want these new users to sign up to your newsletter, feed or Facebook. Do you want them to place a pre-order? Do you want them to try an early level of your game and give you feedback? Do you want them to co-create the story with you? Make sure you tell these new users what to do. Otherwise these leads will get lost, won’t convert and you will never make the sale.

Capitalise on the emotion

In behavioural psychology it is well documented that when buying goods, services and products people buy emotionally. So, what has this got to do with my game? Firstly, games and creative products are emotional in nature, an emotional bond is formed with you user. When you are selling a product, it is far easier to sell something emotional. Secondly, by having this emotional product to sell, you have a huge advantage over non-emotional products; think plastic piping! Finally, people love to connect with and be part of experiences bigger than themselves. To belong and to be part of a wider cultural experience is something humans have craved since we took our first steps. In essence, the product we care about, your game, is a vehicle by which our needs as humans are met. So make sure to capitalise on the emotion.

Nurture the process

Devise a strategic marketing plan for your game and tweak it constantly. Be proactive and work across platforms both online and offline. Nurture the process and manage the communication constantly. Listen clearly for fan’s reactions and feedback. Encourage users input and give fans as many opportunities as possible to engage and co-create content. Invest time in understanding their relationship with your brand and make good on your promises.

If things go sour, as they often do when building new things, be up-front and honest. Tell the truth and ask for help. No wonder conferences like FailCon are so successful. We have all made mistakes and let people down. Just communicate clearly what will happen next and how hard you are working to make things better. Fans will understand and will respect your honesty. Don’t be afraid to share your successes as well as your failures. Allow your users to do the same. Lifetimes of friendships have been made like this, think of your user’s journey to your game and document this too.

Thank people

There are so many ways you can spend your time online. If a user finds you and loves your work, make sure to thank them. Make that familiar mantra “the customer comes first” the cornerstone of how you do business. A sincere thank you is rare these days. Be the exception. Write a note. Pick up the phone. Send a video thank you. Let it become part of your practice. Post a thank you a day. Be sincere. Stand back and watch the response. You’ll be amazed.

Next steps

Look at curating content from your game across multiple online platforms. Create a slide-deck on Slideshare. Make a play list on YouTube of all the music that has inspired you while making the game. Make another list of possible music choices for the score. Have your users vote and add their suggestions. Build albums on Pinterest. Pin characters that inspire yours or draw new ones. Find new ways every day to share and converse with your fans, new leads, influencers and audience.

Be proactive

Be proactive, allow your users to steer your marketing activities. If something unusual happens or a piece of content starts to trend on Twitter for example, go there. Make the most of it. Jump on every opportunity that arises. That fan video uploaded to YouTube could be the start of an amazing campaign.

Own your own audience

Figure 2: The scurvy pirates

Make sure to gather email addresses everywhere and communicate regularly, where you push your users to connect more deeply with your brand. Be personal. Tell your story, in your own voice. Why not steal like a pirate? Look at what your competitors do and do it better. Be yourself and create amazing experiences.

Launch day: Wins

The day has arrived. The party is in full swing. This small group of early adopters, who walked in your door on day one, have grown into a throng of evangelists who are part of your story; part of your team. They counted down the days with you and gave you hope in the moments you thought this game would never ship. They took the journey with you and believed in your vision. Take a deep breath of relief. You deserve it. Everyone has come.

On the web
Social media platforms to get the word out: – Image sharing website – short videos, can be used on Twitter and Instagram

Email Newsletter platforms – design, sending and reporting – design, sending and reporting

FailCon is a conference for technology entrepreneurs, investors, developers, and designers to study their own and others’ failures and prepare for success.

Image credits
Figure 1: Jasper Johns. Target with Four Faces. 1955
Figure 2: The scurvy pirates.

About the Author

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Slaves of the internet giants?



In an interview this week on Scratch magazine, writer Jonathan Franzen talks about the impact of the internet and social media on writers and journalists and on the larger literary industry. You can read the full article here.

I think the tech corporations are like the nineteenth-century coal magnates, and the free-lance writers are like the people slaving in the mines, the only difference being that the tech corporations can’t stop congratulating themselves on how they’ve liberated everybody. I think the Internet should be really strictly regulated, the way the airwaves used to be. If an entire region of the country had its main industry suddenly lose 90 percent of its paying jobs because of the predatory practices of a different region’s industry, you might, if you were the government, step in and say, “We can’t actually let this entire region starve. We’re going to subsidize prices, we’re going to redistribute some income.” 

My response:

The thing that struck me most on reading this article, was the thought of internet writers and contributors working like slaves. Also his notion of maintaining “avenues for establishing a literary reputation” keeping the traditional status quo and if it is changed or disrupted radically, the danger of “handing over” the gatekeepers “of the literary world to the personality types who are … less suited” for it. For me, there is a double standard at play here. Gatekeepers of the old realm often did not crown themselves in glory! And many an artist and writer had to jump through countless hoops to “get in” or get noticed.Often, the process was not transparent or easy to negotiate and for right or wrong, many of the old gatekeepers kept the gates firmly shut.

So then, the question comes to quality. And that is what he is getting at here. Too many crappy writers will get through because no one is looking after the standard. And then, the fear is that this crappy standard will rub off on my work. Or  no one will realise how amazing my work is lumped in with all the rest!

This quality debate has been long in the making and the hierarchy of low and high art has always been a rude point of debate. On one hand, the quality argument was used as a way to limit the amount of published work or access to publishing or gallery space and now on the other, these teeming masses of underpaid, internet contributors produce far too much (for free) for the man (tech giants, with no quality)!

Last week at a workshop, I spoke to an artist who is represented by an agent. This artist, to the rest of the world has made it. Unfortunately, she has no access to her marketing. The agent does it all for her. Under the contract with the agent, she cannot put up an email capture form on her website. All her customers go through the agent, she has no access to their details. I was quite shocked at her story. This artist with a lifetime of work, cannot access the people who love and buy her work. I understand the complexities at play here; I understand the business needs of her agent’ I also understand the requirements and needs of the artist. But somehow it felt far too heavy handed. Surely there is a win-win for both parties by sharing the marketing and for the artist to have more of a role in communication with her buyers? I came away with the question, did she give away too much control?

Reading this article brought these questions back to me again. If anything, the internet has afforded artists and writers more control, more ways of communicating with their audience. An audience they build, nurture and cherish themselves. Artists and writers can drive the story, co-crate and co-curate. Surely it has to be about the reader, the user or the buyer too. How much of a say do we want them to have. This article struck me very much as as the “cooth telling the uncooth what to do.”

Fortunately, the internet and social media gives artists options, options as James Altucher would say to “choose yourself”.  To build your own platform, to tell your story to get up on your own stage.

I love people who tell a good story. I wonder though, if Franzen had not made it by the time 2013 came round, would his relationship with the internet and social media be different?

What is your stance? Do you agree with Jonathan?

Thanks to Claire Bruge for bringing me in on the discussion. You can also add your thoughts over on Facebook or in the comments below.

Image (CC) Andrea Fjeld

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How to compete?


Is it possible to start a business with competitors that are mainly outsourced overseas?

I came across this question online this morning and it got me thinking. It’s hard to start a company when all around you the competitors are bigger, have larger wallets and a track record.

From experience over at Spoiltchild and Toddle, I know what it feels like to punch above your weight each day and win. It is an awesome feeling. No reason why this founder cannot do the same. Attitude, innovation and smart thinking is where it’s at. Taking a risk, build a team and a great community around him. What advice would you give to this founder?

I am currently in the start-up phase of my business, and after some digging, I found that most of my competitors consist of companies located overseas that pay their employees pennies, and offer dirt cheap pricing. My company will offer similar services, but more industry specific and personalized solutions, as well as employees with extensive experience – much more than what an outsourced company can offer…but will this be enough? I dont want to throw in the towel, but how can I compete?

My answer:

Build a great community around you, your users. In this way your users will help to promote and sell you and your product. Maybe you understand your users better than your competitors who are overseas. Can you play on that theme, show your users how you are different and unique. How you help them and go over and beyond each day to grow your company into something bigger that serves them.

The great thing about growing your company online; is that great stories well told by small disruptors with vision, can out-preform and outsell the bigger folks.

You right now are small and agile. This is a strength. You don’t have to wait for decisions to be made. You make them. I always think of Giacomo Guilizzoni founder of Balsamiq Studios. He was so open about what he was trying to build, how big his company was (just him) and his vision. His users loved what he was doing so much they supported him in the early days and now Balsamiq is standard for wireframes and prototyping in the industry.

I suppose it is time to think about what you can do and put less focus into thinking about the others. Small can be great and punch well above our weight category and win.

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Online Better: Top Tips


Last week I had a ball helping artists be online better. One thing jumped out at me. So many artists and makers use their websites like a wall in a gallery. One lovely image at the top and lots of white space. That’s it!

No call to action, nothing telling me about you and no idea where to go next as a user. Lots of space that could be used a whole lot more effectively.

Here are my tips to optimise your website. See if any of these rules apply to yours. Now make your website more effective and think of your user!

Your Website: The rules

Rule number 1: Your website is not a pretty picture.

It’s not a printed brochure for the web. It’s not a gallery re-imagined. NO. Your website is a sales driving machine. We are in the business of selling and a pretty picture will not sell anything. OK, it might help a bit, but you need to consider the user first.

Rule number 2: Be your user.

Open your website and look at it with fresh eyes. That’s right. Close your eyes and repeat after me. “I am a customer”. Now open them. Can you find the price and dimensions of your latest painting? Will it fit over the sofa in the sitting room? No. Not there? Back to the drawing board!

Rule number 3: Test, Test and retest

Now bring in a few more people. Open your laptop or tablet. Ask these strangers to Google your website and find out how much painting X is. Ask them to sign-up to your masterclass or email newsletter. Watch as they try to solve this problem. Do they get frustrated, angry, sigh a lot and give up in frustration? If they do, then you have an idea what to fix. Go do it now!

Repeat this exercise for every important piece of information you need your users to know. If your user gets lost or frustrated it’s your fault. You can fix the problem. Remember 80% of people never come back to your site.

Rule number 4: Provide an email sign up form

Using an email sign-up form on your website is vitally important for your business. Make sure to include one on your homepage and on your blog. Tell users why they should sign up, how you will help them and how often you will be in contact. Make sure they can unsubscribe too and be clear about how you will protect their personal information.

Let me know if these tips have helped you make your website presence a whole lot more helpful for your users :)

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Gamer: Smart Marketer





Tomorrow morning I am more than excited to be working with young minds. I will be spending the day talking about marketing and promoting your game with students from Dania University in Grenaa. Afterwards, I’ll be facilitating a more hands-on workshop. This is the work I love to do!

Going through my materials again this evening, a few things came to mind and I thought I’d share them with you before the lecture tomorrow.

When I was a kid we constantly played “round stories”, each person in the group added a line until the story ended. Or in our case, finished abruptly, because we couldn’t agree on the plot!  Often, my sister’s contributions were so good, we forgot our turn and let her finish the story, glued to the very end.

I think marketing your game works in the same way. Of course, you need to steer the ship; but sometimes it’s good to let go, try out new things and find a few cool new influencers in unexpected places.

Guys and girls

Some marketing and social media platforms have attracted certain perceptions or pigeon holes. For example, Pinterest, is for women or ladies of a certain age. Other platforms are dominated by other type of users. Take Machinema for example, they have  conquered the male 16 to 35 year old market.  And that is just fine. Job well done if these folks were the intended target market.

But I can’t help thinking that there is a good marketing lesson to be learned here. I wonder if games developers posted very early sketches of their games on Flickr to share. Tagged those vintage cartoon characters in albums marked inspiration and added a few drawings of their own for others to pick up and reshare?

The thing is, what is found initially on one platforms moves on very quickly to others, and the fire starts after the second or third share. But someone had to start the chain. Where was this person, who was it and why did this early adopter pick you?

So the person or type of audience that initially found your content, is never rewarded for their help and not considered part of your team. But these people are pivotal to your success.

Think about the influencers on every platform. In the early stages, don’t count any out until you’ve done your homework. One very active pinner or repinner could have a massive impact on your game’s visibility.

As well as this, the duration of a Pinterest pin, is much longer that the same content shared on Facebook or Twitter. That gorgeous long tail of the internet, keeps on finding, pining and repining these posts; giving your content a longer life. Another positive to be mindful of.

Image driven platforms like Pinterest could be used in so many smart, innovative ways by small indie games developers. The same with Instagram. It’s all about the sharing economy. What better way to get noticed.

Let the fans in

Fans have a huge place in driving the recognition of your brand and your game. Fan fiction, fan music, fan videos are all over the web. And when fan content mixes with your content, amazing things can happen. Why not let your fans co-create with you. Maybe a way forward, a new adventure or simple solutions could be found to things that were blocking your forward path.

I know it’s a futile exercise to spend your time and valuable resources online where your fans don’t reside.  Taking that as read, why not test content on different platforms? Write up a plan. Think of the craziest to the simplest campaigns you can run and get to it. Move outside your comfort zone a bit and see what takes off. Who knows maybe Pinterest could unlock that golden circle for you. Worth a try I  think.

I’ll let you know what the student think of these thoughts and others tomorrow. Feel free to add thoughts of your own, happy to have you as part of my team. :)



Big thanks to Mikkel for the invitation to come over and present, I really appreciate it.




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Stop talking tech. I want to play your game!


I’m very excited to be invited back to Games Business in Aalborg next month. I’m speaking on day two of the conference; focusing on breaking through the noise, how to get your game on your users’ radar. I’ll be joined on the day by brilliant folks including Ville Heijari, Niels Jørgensen, Sam Dalsimer and Anders Leicht Rohde.

Here is what I’ll be talking about in more detail:

Startups and games developers are often so focused on the technology; the code, the newest platform, the shiny stuff, they overlook the user at the end. It’s a constant battle to be noticed. So why kill off your chances by having the wrong conversations with the wrong people at the wrong time.

“Features are what you ask your designers and coders to build. Benefits are what you hook customers with”

I’ll be talking about the benefits. That hook. Finding smart strategies to engage your users from day one. Building a rabid fan base you own. An investment that will pay dividends over the lifetime of your business

Full schedule of the conference is here and you can buy your tickets here. Follow along on Twitter with #dkgame and #gbiz13.

If you have some good examples to share, let me know. How did you break through the noise and get noticed?

Image (cc)thanks to d0gwalker

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