From The Inside: The 5th Column: A Day in the Trenches with Marketing Monkey
Strategy First's Marketing Director, Steve Milburn, explains how he spends his day at this North American games publisher.
A Day in the Trenches with Marketing Monkey
Marketing Monkey is a moniker I picked up early on in the games industry. The Press bestowed the name on me when they saw my countless quotes on press releases and marketing material. I don't mind it as long as they mention the company at the same time. I feel like I'm "takin' one for the team" and over the years I've gotten a very thick skin; "sticks and stones" and all that.
But I digress.
I was asked to write an article on what it's like to work in the games industry and I decided the best way to really explain it is to go through a day with me.
5:00 am: What are you crazy! I don't wake up this early...still sleeping.
6:00 am: Alarm goes off. Since I love my job and am always motivated to get into the office early… I hit the snooze button.
6:10 am: Snooze button.
6:20 am: Snooze button.
6:30 am: Snooze button.
I think you're getting the picture.
7:00 am: Get up, shower, sometimes shave and put on the uniform of a Marketing Monkey. Now a lot people consider the marketing department as 'the suits'. I don't do suits. I've never understood the necessity of wearing a piece of cloth around your neck. Luckily, in the games industry, dress is optional…wait; let me rephrase that, dress at the office is up to the individual. Due to the fact that I'm the Director of Marketing, my uniform is business casual, no tie.
9:00 am: Arrive at work. Getting to work can be a bit of an ordeal. The Strategy First offices are located in the beautiful, historic part of Montreal called Old Montreal. (We're not very original when it comes to naming things.) Our building is actually a heritage building and is protected under law. This means that on occasion I will have to wade through tourists taking pictures of our building just to get to work.
6:00 pm: Go home.
Well thanks for listening to my tale and I hope that this has been enlightening and informative on the inner workings of our Marketing Department at Strategy First.
Strategy First Inc.
What? More? What do you mean I need more? I didn't explain anything? What about the snooze button thing or the heritage building? Pretty exciting stuff eh?
More! Alright, let's see where was I, oh yeah, I had just arrived at work.
9:01am - 5:59pm: As Marketing Director, I am in charge of the entire Marketing Department. This department includes: Product Management (who decide how a product is marketed and promoted); Public Relations (who got me to write this article you are presently reading); Graphic Design (who do all of the packaging and print ads); Web Design (who design our web sites and online ads); Manufacturing (who coordinate building of the games); Community Management (who answer all of our gamers questions) and other resources used by our team.
Managing this department can be summed up in two words: Controlled Chaos. Let me explain:
Once a game hits our radar, meaning, once a game is reaching the end of its development cycle, the marketing department kicks into gear. We gather all of the information on the game, which will include descriptions, features, system requirements, beta copies, artwork, team bios, smoked turkey on rye…oops sorry, I had to miss lunch to write this article. After we have all of the information we need, then we go into analyze mode. We play the game, we read through all of the information, we determine the competition, the market, the unique selling points, hamburger…damn, sorry. What comes out of all of that work is usually a working marketing plan and schedule.
Now listen closely, this is where the 'Chaos' part comes in…games slip. Yes I said it, the games industry's little secret. Games have a tendency not to come out when they were supposed to. What this does to a marketing plan and schedule is turn it upside down, inside out and backass last Tuesday (This is a new saying I'm trying out. If you like it, please feel free to use it. Royalty donations accepted.)
Now listen up, this is where the 'Control' part comes in. I have to make sure that everything still moves along within this department to make sure that when the game is ready to go, we are able to 'turn on a dime', 'hit the ground running', 'be all that you can be'… I love marketing.
Because of the dynamic nature of the games industry, a marketing plan is a living, breathing document. It changes almost constantly during the life-cycle of a product. As the product gets closer and closer to being released, the document changes become more frequent and pens are no longer used within the department. Pencils are handed out and the lead poisoning begins. Sometimes this is the only way we stay sane, while everything around you that you planned turns to [excrement].
Oops, I really got off topic. I didn't really explain what happens between 9:01am and 5:59pm. Basically, at the beginning of this article, I thought I could boil it down to a single day. The problem with this is that every day is different. One day I could be arguing with the ESRB about the use of the word 'pussy' in a game and the next I could be negotiating an online campaign to get the biggest bang for our marketing buck.
The games industry is a crazy, dynamic place to work, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I go into to work everyday never knowing exactly what will happen and everyday I learn something new about this business.
Strategy First Inc.