I want to touch on a subject that I did not notice any deep approach in the wild even though it is very rewarding: Back-to-back Marketing (b2b mk).
What is B2B marketing?
Exactly as the name suggests, back-to-back marketing or business-to-business marketing refers to marketing your products to other businesses and vice-versa.
On the other hand, I have seen a s**t load of “B2B marketing” in indie game development communities where all developers spam other developers with their products and get ignored and vice-versa.
Well, in order for B2B marketing to be successful you need a similar yet very different approach.
B2B Marketing implies that both businesses (in our case developers) got something to gain from it and I will tell you how I do it.
How to make efficient B2B marketing in the indie game industry?
1. Steam Bundles
These Bundles can be temporary or permanent.
For example, I did some temporary Bundles in the past with Lumencraft, Scrapnaut, and some others.
And I also did 2 Permanent Bundles, one internal (https://store.steampowered.com/bundle/29954/16_BIT_NIGHTS/) with all my games, you can think of this as an internal B2B marketing if you want, and one permanent with Strain Tactics( https://store.steampowered.com/bundle/33948/Tactical_Squad_Creations/),
for this last bundle I also await with excitement & hope for Mud and Blood to join at one point(https://store.steampowered.com/app/1391530/Mud_and_Blood/),
I say this because these 3 games got VERY SIMILAR target audience & quality.
What to seek when searching for a Steam bundle partner?
– As similar as possible target audience. Why? Well, bundles work like this: Game X and Y are in a bundle, players from game X will now be more exposed to game Y and players from game Y will now be more exposed to game X, if they are totally different games types then its a fail, it can even backfire into a wave of negative reviews.
– Positive rating. Why? This also works for Branding, you don’t want to associate your brand with negativity.
– Similar amount of reviews/sales. Why? This is more of a nitpick, but for example, people who have very famous games are not very interested in making bundles with smaller titles, I’m talking here about big differences like 500 reviews vs 5000 reviews. This again works hand in hand with branding and maybe a bit of arrogance but that’s the reality.
– Release date. Why? The more fresh the game is, the more alive its community of players is.
– Similar price range. (if possible)
From my research, I found that the best amount of games in a bundle is 3 up to 5 max.
The Discount should not be more than 20% MAX, preferably 10%, not more because you risk cannibalizing the normal Steam discounts and devaluing the games.
The Bundle can be established on Steam and it is a very easy user friendly 4 step action.
Also, do not forget to post the announcement once the bundle is live for maximum effect.
Conclusion: Steam bundles are a very good long-term investment, even new players who find one of the games in the future will immediately be aware of the other games from the bundle, so it’s a long cycle of benefits.
2. Community Cross Promotion
This second possibility of B2B implies that you have a community(preferably on Discord) and you seek to collab on B2B with another developer who also has a community.
And again, this must be communities of games with similar audiences otherwise it would be just spam on your audience, sure many of us do this as a nice way to support other developers but if you want it to be efficient it must be a similar target audience.
Here are some examples of community cross promo from personal experience:
The guys from Tendril (dev blog: https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=60709.0 )
posted about the release of CE and CE2 coming soon page on their Discord community to support me and I also post from time to time in my Discord about their game and I also include them in my dev blog posts each time I have the opportunity.
We both have a medium similar community as in pixel art visuals + horror/sci-fi theme + heavy Aliens easter eggs. If you read this: Thank you, guys!
Urb, the developer of Mud and Blood (https://store.steampowered.com/app/1391530/Mud_and_Blood/)
always supported me with official announcements on his Discord community about the release of Chromosome Evil, and in return, I also talk about Mud & blood on my Discord community and I will surely make a big announcement when he exits early access with M&B.
We both have a perfectly similar community audience (we also have many players who are in both discords) Top-down visuals + squad-based tactics gameplay. If you read this Urb: You are AWESOME!
AuroDev the developer of Mortal Glory( https://store.steampowered.com/app/1097530/Mortal_Glory/ )
was also a nice encounter, he also got a nice youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/@AuroDev ) and he offered to make a video first impression on my game and in return I offered to post announcements in my Discord and tweet about his upcoming game.
This one was made with the best intentions on both sides but the audience was very different, he got many game dev audiences on his youtube, and his game audience at that time was also very different ( https://store.steampowered.com/app/1650860/Chambers_of_Devious_Design/?curator_clanid=35174768 ) from my target audience and vice versa but still it was a constructive collab.
He now started work on Mortal Glory 2 and the audience for that is more similar to what I have. Maybe in the future, I will propose him a bundle collab. If you read this Auro: Never give up!
And there were other examples of developers who supported me and I supported them turning it into a nice B2B move, I am sorry If I did not manage to mention you all here but rest assured I haven’t forgotten.
This being said here is how I see it best to approach this.
If you find a similar community of audience contact the developer(don’t mindlessly spam his community) and ask for a B2B collab, explain in key points the pros ( and cons if any), this is also good networking(I think I will also make a post about networking in the future).
Both developers should make an official announcement on the official announcement room made by the owner ( even better if both of you can use @everyone in your communities for maximum effect ), make sure you do not abuse this or let yourself be abused. These types of announcements should best only be made when a coming soon page is released, when a game is released, and or when the trailer gets released.
Many developers support other developers but this can evolve into a solid marketing move if done correctly.
Likes and comments on Twitter are very good and can help the branding and it’s a nice way to show support to others but if you want B2B on Twitter as well you will need to re-tweet and again, make sure it is a similar audience( PS: use Twitter for networking not for player exposure )
If you have more suggestions about B2B marketing please do share them with me, I am very interested in learning new things on this underrated topic.
Also if you have any bundle proposals send me a magical email or contact me on Discord.