I volunteered to help run a game con this year. It’s taking place this weekend and the majority of my work is done. I handled a few different tasks, but there is one in particular that really opened my eyes: con support.
Con support is when you ask a game company if they have any way they can help support your con. This ranges from product like free games, books, or PDFs or things like buying advertising in the booklet, vendor table space, discounts, etc…
I really wanted to do this right. I solicited advice from people who had prior experience asking for con support. I created a spreadsheet with a list of companies I wanted to contact. I researched their websites for their preferred method of contact and/or any guidelines they had specifically for con support requests. I began sending out emails and filling out forms three months before the first day of the con.
Now I realize that I was basically going to these companies, none of whom are swimming in pools of money, and, with hat in hand, asking for freebies or cash expenditures for a relatively new con in Iowa. With that in mind, I wrote some polite text that was short, to the point, and gave details about the con that could easily be validated. I ended it with a statement that conveyed I was thankful for their time and was appreciative of anything they might be able to offer.
I contacted over 2 dozen companies. I heard back from less than half. This blows my mind. When I communicate with a business, especially when using their very specific guidelines, I think it is reasonable to expect a response in a 3 month window. I don’t care if the response was “Yes, we can help” or “Sorry, no can do.” It’s common courtesy to give some kind of response when someone makes an effort to reach your business.
And without a doubt, it was the smaller, indie companies that were, by far, the easiest and most pleasant to deal with. And quite generous with their products to boot. I was humbled by the offerings of some of these folks. (No, I’m not naming names. I don’t have their permission to do that and don’t want them to get buried with requests.)
Could my email have been caught in a spamfilter? Sure. Could their online contact form have some kind of error only visible on the back end? Sure. But it is still their responsibility to check such things on a regular basis to make sure legitimate customer inquiries are not being lost.
We all know the RPG market, regardless of your preferred game, is a niche market. I don’t understand how a company can just casually toss aside a contact from someone, even if they are only asking for con support. Niche market or not, we’re a broad range of people that love to play games. Some of us buy a lot of product, some not as much. I feel quite comfortable saying that RPG gamers, like nearly every other consumer on the planet, tend to remember customer service, good or bad, and often make future purchases based on those experiences. All companies should strive to make them good.
Filed under: Misc