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The Douchey DM » Misc » My Experience Asking Companies For Con Support

My Experience Asking Companies For Con Support

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.

Written by

Living in his secluded mansion off the coast of Iowa, JimTo often spends evenings reading, role playing, and writing for DoucheyDM. His best qualities are being loud, rude, and obnoxious, but for some reason, people still love him.

Filed under: Misc

5 Responses to "My Experience Asking Companies For Con Support"

  1. Brian A.No Gravatar says:

    It’s these small companies that are willing to help out with cons and support for their customers that deserve the same from the gaming community in return. I know when I see these companies helping out; I’ll weigh towards buying their products in the future and spreading praise with word of mouth on other forums and to other gamers any chance I get.

  2. MartimNo Gravatar says:

    I work as journalist in a Technology Business section. While i am in Argentina i can guess the problem is pretty much the same and it is related the way some comunications are manage.

    Yes, spam filter is insanely strong.

    But also, there is some bad comunication channel design in many companies. You call asking for the public relation or press employee. They do tell you to talk to their press agency. They ask you about what you want to talk about. Then they talk to the company, then the company evaluate your proposition. And you have to wait till the company comunicate with the agency. And you can guess there is a lot of fear to do something wrong in the other side.

    Now, sometimes you talk to a small company. The guy who take the phone is the manager, or someone who call the manager. The guy take the phone, heard what you have to say and decide to support you or not. And if he does, he has no accountability to do but himself.

    Also, companies are more likely to reply by phone in my experience. E-mail is pretty mucha waste of time for first contact in almost 80%. Having a Linkedin profile works too, but i bet you have that covered already.

    Sorry for the long text, hope it is useful or interesting in some way :P

  3. Hoseir RobNo Gravatar says:

    As someone who gets these kinds of requests on a daily basis, it is hard to facilitate or even answer them. Given, I am in a different industry and I do my best to at least respond, but often at smaller companies you have people wearing 5-6 different hats and not a lot of time to dedicate to cold call requests.

    I can sympathize with JimTo, but am also acutely and sadly aware of the other side of the coin. There are three people I would try to target as opposed to the general contact forms. Depending on the company, the Sales Manager, Marketing Manager or PR Manager would be your best bets. I would hit them via email and follow up 5-7 days later with a call if you haven’t heard back. Usually the 3x rule works. Contact them 3x within a 14-20 day period. If you don’t hear anything back, walk away for a period of time. Make each contact short, sweet with all pertinent info. If someone hits me up with their address and all the info I need, I will often send something without responding as it turns out to be faster.

    Just my take. Keep up the fight you wonderful bearded man, you.

  4. SirGuidoNo Gravatar says:

    I have had the exact same response when looking for minor things. When my FLGS opened two years ago they were faced with a big problem. A wall of glass facing west. So from oh 3pm until sundown the store was roasting in sunlight. So I endeavored to help them fix the problem while giving folks advertising. I contacted at least 20 different game companies asking for any advertising they were willing to part with. I didn’t care if it was for a current product or something from 3 fiscal quarters ago. I have connections with lots of people in the industry and reached out to them for help not only with the companies they worked for but also companies where they knew people. I had a humongous list of email addresses and phone numbers. I went through each one and sent an email and/or made a phone call. Out of all of those I got 6 responses. That’s less than a third. 2 of those responses were sorry we can’t help, 2 were we can offer you this for a nominal fee, and 2 were what’s your address we’ll send you what we have. Guess who, to this day, still gets prominent display space in the game store? Of the two that responded, I wouldn’t call either of them a big name in roleplaying.

    It amazes me.

  5. John ReystNo Gravatar says:

    I suspect those that were cooperative (I can think of one) wouldn’t mind the mention ;)

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