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Marketability as a symptom, not an end.

in glhf

I’ve been meaning to write about this post for a while now, but more pressing subjects combined with a wonderful assortment of holiday-related time pits had prevented me. I can’t remember how I stumbled on it or why, but it was immediately apparent that it needed a rebuttal.

When I look at the potential market value of some of the Pro Gamers out there, I really question why more advertisers and sponsors are not backing some of the players with significant amounts of influence in the market. There is a growing number of super influencers out there promoting games, products, and gear for various companies without much support (from those companies).

I think there is a common misconception amongst the gaming community that only the “top” teams or individuals that are the ones with a viable means to market themselves. In reality anyone, or more specifically any gamer, can create opportunities to build their marketability amongst sponsors.

Oh, hey; reality just called, they’d like you to redact that last sentence. Something about being completely misquoted…

Marketing is a term tossed around pretty loosely, has been for a while. It’s common to think that a sub-par product, or even no product at all, can be sold if only you had the proper marketing blitz up your sleeve. Some catchy phrases, strong branding, some contrived testimonials, get some ads on TV and radio – and wham, the money will come flying in. But that only held absolutely true a few decades ago, when most everyone paid attention to mass media and network television was still king of the heap. Now, nobody has time for your ‘marketing’ mumbo-jumbo, nobody’s listening to your sales pitch.

Anybody else remember when ESEA trotted some pro player out on the main page of their site to shill for some energy/protein/health product of some sort? If I remember right, Met-Rx was a sponsor there for maybe a season…pretty sure it was in conjunction with that. See…I don’t even remember the damn product, nor do I care to, all I remember is that it was an unmitigated product placement disaster for everyone involved.

It infuriates me, then saddens me (in that order) to read stuff like the post quoted; if this is indicative of the larger mindset among MLG participants – that the system in which they compete is functioning with their interests in mind, and they just aren’t squeezing the fruits of their labors properly – then there’s more work to be done than I really thought.

Under the sub-heading ‘Create Value for Yourself’ reads insightful ideas like getting on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and start annoying the living shit out of anybody you think is remotely interested in gaming. Because, at this point, these are still cutting edge strategies for making a statement as to how connected you are with the marketing world. Further thoughts are offered along the lines of ‘fix up, look sharp’ and ‘track conversions.’

No shit. What if you don’t have sponsors to track conversions for? What to do for those with no sponsors, and no path to revenue at all? What to do for those looking at ‘professional gaming’ as it stands today, and seeing no practical path to solvency? Any nuggets for them besides getting on YouTube?

Of course not, because no meaningful insights can be made on the subject of becoming solvent in an entirely insolvent system. Marketability can’t be the end itself! Greater marketability within sports, as a team or as a solo player, is a reflection of your greater relevancy within your sport, from improving as a team or player and building stronger connections with fans. If you’re competing, however, in a system where encouraging spectatorship is clearly not a priority, and the only people you have to ‘market’ stuff to are your direct competitiors…well that’s a pretty shallow audience of people that are generally uninterested in seeing you expand on your success.

The problem is not that gaming teams aren’t marketable. It’s that the competitive body you choose to tether yourselves removes that quality from you, and reserves it for themselves. We’re still at square one here – you don’t have anything to market if you’re the ones consuming. Worry about flipping that part of the equation around first…and then we can talk marketability.