Friday, November 11, 2011

Q and A #1: Marketing a Marketer

This week I'll be posting some of the questions I've received and answered, in hopes that some of you out there may be in similar situations and might find these Q and As helpful.

Question 1:

I have a great dilemma and I think you might be able to answer some of my questions or point me into the right direction. In order for you to get an idea of my current situation, I feel I should give you a brief background about myself.
I’ve been an avid gamer all my life and my dream has been to work in the gaming industry since I can remember. Knowing how hard it is to get a job in the industry, I decided to get an MBA degree with an emphasis in marketing to improve my chances of landing a business related job for a gaming company. I have had no luck so far and I think I know exactly why. None of my past jobs are related to gaming, although they have all been technology related within the IT industry. I know this results in my resume not being attractive to gaming companies, which is my main problem.

That being said, I know in my heart I should be working for a gaming company. I’m always up to date with latest games, trends and culture. I research and study games and the gaming industry every day and I feel that I know what factors make a great game and what consumers want. I know that if given the opportunity to work for gaming company I can make very significant contributions to developing a great game. I just need to get my foot in the door and show what I can do.

Not being successful in obtaining a job in the gaming industry has not discouraged me. I decided to start my own company about year ago. We are a small team that develops games for mobile platforms and our first game will be released before the end of the year. I’ve been hands on with every aspect of our game development and learned a great deal during this process. I’m even more eager than ever to land a video game related job and continue learning with industry professionals.

My question to you is what can I do to effectively communicate my passion and eagerness to work for a gaming company and the best way to get my foot in the door? All the factors that I feel make me a good candidate don’t really fit well on my resume, except our gaming company, which I feel companies won’t take as seriously because I’m the founder. I know you’re extremely busy but any advice or help you can provide would be highly appreciated. Again, I thank you for your time and I’m really looking forward to hearing back from you!

My response:
First of all, congrats on the MBA and on starting your own company! Both are big accomplishments. But I do understand your frustration. Although it's a tough industry to break into and having previous experience does help, everyone who currently has industry experience started with none. Here are the best tips I can think of sharing given your current situation.

- You may already be doing this, but be sure to explain your passion for games and talk about your games company in your cover letter (just like you did in your email to me). Tailor it to the company you are applying to and talk about the ways in which their marketing strategies have impressed you, and/or how you think you could fill in some obvious gaps, etc.
- Make sure you are covering the bases in your job search. Publishers are more likely to have marketing opportunities than developers.
- Be open to working at small companies to start. Even if the first game you work on isn't a big blockbuster, you'll be in a good place. Games that don't already have a name for themselves depend heavily on good marketing, and you'll be able to showcase how you tackled those challenges in your resume and talk about them in interviews.

- Get to know people who are already working in the industry. Attend industry events, do informational interviews, etc. A good portion of hires are referrals.

- Since you don't have previous experience marketing games, why not put together a portfolio that shows what you can do? Create a mock marketing strategy for a fictional game, or a game that the company you are applying to is shipping in the near future. What sort of grass roots and/or social networking strategies would you use? What have you noticed that the company you are applying to is missing in their strategies? What are some big, creative ideas that might be appropriate? Anything original or untapped? On the business end, in what ways has your previous experience prepared you for coming up with big budget or tight budget marketing strategies? How in depth is your current knowledge regarding how to forecast game sales? Etc. These are questions you can tackle in a portfolio.

- Be open to working elsewhere in the entertainment industry for the time being. Film, music, and other media can have similar corporate cultures and marketing strategies, and relevant entertainment industry experience will be attractive to games companies.

If you don't find a job right away, don't be heartbroken and don't give up. At the end of the day, wherever you are, you're still marketing a product. Enjoy the fact that you can use your creativity and smarts to market any sort of product, even if it's not one you come home to and spend hours with every night. I love working in games, but HR at a games studio isn't worlds different than HR somewhere else. Try to get the best experience you can and continue to enjoy games and stay in touch with industry news and trends. I hope that is somewhat helpful. Best of luck to you with your job hunt!


  1. Wow nice explanation for the question asked about the marketing to the gaming recruiter!

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