Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Curse of Ad Copy

You know those promotional blurbs for DFD, NDiD, and PoP? You know, those bits on the products page here?

I hate them and think they're cheesy and fear they are frightfully ineffective and perhaps even detrimental to the cause of piquing interest and attracting curiousity and sales.

But you know what? I think the same thing about the promotional copy for basically everything ever made. It all feels insulting to read (everything more awesome than everything else) so when it's time to do my own, I treat it as gingerly and distastefully as a dead rat I've found in the basement that needs to be disposed of.

Should it be a piece of creative writing evoking the atmosphere of the adventure? A minimalist just-the-facts-ma'am rundown? A sensationalized attention-grabber?

Amateur marketing is amateur, and that's where I am now. But professional marketing is sleazy and cheesy. Even dryly explaining what it is is uncomfortable. Hyping my own work to people (outside of my blog... no shame here :D) feels wrong and intrusive, even though doing that is probably my primary function as publisher and more important to success than the actual quality of material.

To leave it simply as "Adventure For x, y, and z Games, Character Levels a - b" would be wonderful on my end, but kooky consumers feel entitled to a bit of information before making a purchase. Insane, I know.

Not sure what to do.

I air this concern because the over-the-top hype angle is what I've been thinking about for Insect Shrine.


This is the big one. The long-awaited masterpiece of fantasy adventure is finally here!

(blah blah has a sandbox mini-setting and goblins and other stuff yadda yadda)

The gauntlet has been thrown down. This is an adventure that only the bravest will attempt and only the most skilled and clever will survive. Don't be satisfied with the 'challenge' provided by other kiddie dungeons. Step up to the ultimate challenge: INSECT SHRINE OF GOBLIN HILL!"

But then sometimes I'm just silly. *shrug*


  1. That approach is not working for me, but it's probably a matter of taste. The difficulty of writing advertising text is that people react in different ways depending on their mind-set.

    To be specific, what's not working for me is the jocular tone that makes it seem like I shouldn't take the information content seriously. I respond much better to efficient name-dropping that is obviously based on a keen sense of where the product is positioned culturally. In other words, tell me what makes the product significant, exactly. This need not be long, even, just a couple of sentences could suffice.

  2. "I treat it as gingerly and distastefully as a dead rat I've found in the basement that needs to be disposed of."

    My worldview has just been shattered. That's...that's...that's, well, not very metal.

  3. Try not to just be EXTREME ... I think there is still value in plain explanation - though you'd obviously want to avoid understatement.

  4. I thought most of it was pretty good--concise but enough detail to inform, writing in a fairly compelling manner. I did think that the Green Devil Face had too much minutiae and was a bit too idiosyncratic.

    I think with online marketing, there is a continuum with traditional websites (clean and formal) at one end and social networking (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc) at the other end (relational and information). Blogs are in-between. The tough thing about a blog is that strong opinions and customer relations typically have an inverse relationship. You can be quirky and eccentric, but extreme might send some away. Abrasive is simply a no no in marketing (unless you are 3M). You also have to be patient, marketing is more about branding and relationships and less about immediate sales. You have a strong product--Death Frost Doom in particular is amazing.

  5. "Play The Insect Shrine of Goblin Hill, and you'll tear your own eyes out and die vomiting in horror, nancy-boy!"