Marketing Expenses & ROI

I recently read an interview from Overstock.com’s CEO who discussed a number of good, interesting facts.  However, one thing that I think is a serious simplification was the line “You can reduce the waste [in marketing expenses] to zero. You can figure out how to pay back every single marketing dollar you spend if it’s online“.

There are a number of reasons why this is wrong, at least as a flat statement like that.  For one thing, it’s nearly impossible to track every single dollar as the tracking systems available are not 100% accurate.  Most tracking (especially over sessions) is done via cookies.  And at least 30% of consumers clean their cookies on a regular basis.

How this would work is you visit our site via an advertisement on Google.  You then decide not to buy anything yet but place a bookmark on the site, and say in a week, delete all your cookies.  Google (and thus us) no longer knows you visited us via the advertisement, so a week later if you buy from us, we still can’t allocate that purchase to that advertisement.  Which might, if everyone does it, look like a horrible advertisement to do and one we should delete.

This is even more significant when you look at sites like theSpiel who we sponsor.  Sure, they mention us in their advertising and have a link – but the majority of customers would come through either Google or as direct traffic in the navigation bar.  How do you track that kind of traffic (beyond coupons, which relies on customers actually using the coupon).

That’s when Marketing goes from a science back to an art.  My stats for sales from theSpiel is actually very low – much lower than what I’ve paid for the advertising.  But discussions with customers have indicated much of my preferred target market listens to theSpiel and are happy I’m sponsoring them.  So, supporting them could be worth every dollar in branding.

That’s where straight line numbers falls down, because there is still some ‘artistry’ to this business.  Or maybe I just don’t have the budget to get all the numbers I need.

PS: I’m holding off my decision on theSpiel till we finish our committed run.

General thoughts, missed shipments and damaged goods

Whew! The insane XMas Season is over and I’m now back (mostly) to my regularly scheduled timetable.

I’ve been thinking about the next year (and the one after that too) now that XMas is over, both on the planning side as well as what we are and what I want from the business.  I’m going to put a lot of that into writing in our ‘2009 roundup’ post at the end of the year,but one of the major things I’ve decided on is that I need another pair of hands.  At the very least for Christmas, if not sooner.  The timing will be dependent on our final finances after Boxing Day sales are over and we pay off taxes/etc.

Part of the reason for that is the amount of mistakes on shipments that occurred during XMas.  It works out to about 3% – which is frankly, unacceptably high. It should be like 1% at most.

In addition, we missed a number of ‘damaged’ games that arrived from our distributors that we normally would have caught.  I dislike damaged games since I have to either (a) eat the cost if we miss them and hope to resell (normally at a lower margin) or (b) make arrangements for their return.  Since some distributors need to fill out paperwork and the like before they’ll accept our returns, it can be up to a month before we get our refunds.  That’s VERY long to have to wait for a refund, since we just ‘sit’ on the games till then.

December Newsletter & Contest Winners

December Newsletter

Christmas Shipping Deadlines


Contest Winner Announcement

For our Small Publisher Contest, Thomas Tompkins has won for his suggestion of the battle of the 2nd Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and 2 French mechanized units against Croat soldiers in the Medak Pocket in September 1993. It’s a very interesting, though much less well known battle held in recent times and certainly rings a bell for us Canadians.

For our review contest, we had an astounding 48 entries this month. The winner is Jasmine with her review of Zooloretto.

Ongoing Contests

The monthly review contest is continuing this month and the winner of each monthly review contest will receive a $20 gift certificate. In addition, this is the last month for the winner to be enterred into the 2009 end of the year draw for the Grand Prize of $250 of board games! So start writing your reviews now, since every review is an individual entry into the monthly contest.

We are putting the Small Publisher Contest on-hold for the month of December.

Site Updates

Minor site update including the introduction of some new software to speed up the site. It’s mostly unbugged, but there is an occasional problem that crops up with E-mail accounts not saving properly when orders are put through. Just contact us directly and we’ll help sort it out.

Upcoming Games

We have a series of upcoming board games arriving from Essen 2009 including Dungeon Lords, Agricola : Farmers on the Moor, Carson City, Mecanisburgo, Pony Express and A Brief History of the World .

Bestsellers for October 2009

The new Bestsellers of November 2009 is up on the main website. Following is the list of the Bestsellers of October 2009 as a comparison.

Dominion
1. Dominion

2. Warhammer: Invasion LCG Core Set

3. Bohnanza

4. Dominion : Seaside

5. Pandemic : On the Brink

6. Ticket to Ride Europe

7. Arkham Horror

8. Carcassonne : Big Box 2

9. Citadels Card Game

10. Pandemic

In addition, here are the bestselling board games that were released in 2009 for the month of October.

Warhammer: Invasion LCG Core Set

1. Warhammer: Invasion LCG Core Set

2. Dominion : Seaside

3. Pandemic : On the Brink

4. Carcassonne Big Box 2

5. Ra the Dice Game

6. Arcana

7. Dominion : Intrigue
8. Small World

9. Battlestar Galactica : Pegasus Expansion

10. Space Alert