Sorry, the airquotes are probably mean, but I have a lot of friends who do this in other countries, and they don't get the same stuff we do, so this event is a little less international that certain people would have you believe.
That though, is neither here nor there. A wrap-up of this event is what I want to discuss today, because I think ITTD has some issues, but I also think it has some positives, and both of those things are worth discussing. Where do we want to start?
With the negatives, of course! What website do you think you visited today?
The "support" (whoops, airquotes snuck in again) offered by Geek & Sundry on this event amounts to a mob-like shakedown of retailers. Sure, they say it's free, but then they charge you so much in shipping that you'd be better off if they just shared the graphics file and you made your own adorkable little stickers to hand out. As is their tradition, G&S put out retailer support that had almost no value to most retailers.
That's not fair. I said almost no value.
It had no value.
(To most retailers, your mileage may vary.)
Yet, ITTD continues to be a success, because the G&S channel is important to many gamers, and they do know how to digitally market themselves. Despite the success of ITTD on an industry-wide basis, its success on a store-to-store basis varies dramatically, and is largely based on the amount of work a store wants to put into it. Way back in year one we got involved with them, involved enough that we had our three minutes (or whatever it was) on the stream where they were live in the store with us. It was cool for the gamers in the store, even if I saw very little value in it. That first ITTD was a decent sales day as well, not spectacular, but decent.
The second one we kind of blew off. The marketing and support seemed very 'meh' to me, and the sales in year two were down from the sales in year one. The same held true of the event each year, with me caring less and less about it, and the sales from those days absolutely showing it. Then 2017 GAMA happened, and we renewed our commitment to supporting the board game community in the store. We had sold board games the entire time, but they had become (completely my fault here) an afterthought behind all of the organized play we did for things like Privateer Press, Fantasy Flight Games, and Hasbro. In 2017 we set out to fixing that, and for this ITTD we got to see it pay dividends.
We put out marketing. We worked with some companies on sponsorship deals that allowed us to really highlight their products. We ran organized play events for board games. We demoed board games.
We sold the heck out of board games.
We did twice the numbers of a normal Saturday, and we did them while having a ton of fun sharing and teaching games that we love. We took promos for things we knew we loved like Sagrada (holy heck, that ITTD window is so nutty), and we took the Renegade Game Studios exclusive ITTD release (Wonderland), and we added in promos and OP kits from so many great companies, and had one hell of a day. We ran OP for Potion Explosion, Zombicide, Blood Rage, and Bloodborne. We saw so many new people, and we've seen them come back since then as well. ITTD was, and still is, a perfect example of us getting out of an event exactly what we're willing to put into that event. When I ignored it, it ignored me, and when we made plans, advertised those plans, and really took part in the joy of community, we were rewarded for it.
I suspect that holds true for everything in this industry. The more we put into it, the more we get out of it, but I think planning your ITTD and really making a big deal out of it can go a long way, not only in the numbers on that day, but in the continued relationship between your store and customers, both new and old. Of course, some of work depends on the work of our publishing partners. Too many publishers ignored ITTD, and that makes the event feel, what's the word I'm looking for? Shoddy. Let's go with shoddy. If ITTD wants to make itself a really big deal it needs to get support from more mid-major publishers. It needs to get more people on board so that it feels like more of an event.
Until it can do that, I'll just work at getting those people on board in my store. Maybe I'm better off that way, but is the industry?
(I'm just going to leave that dangling question there for others to answer. On Thursday morning I leave for Atlanta for CMON Expo. If you're there, come say hello! Let's play a game!)