Market Like A Rockstar: Lessons from GTA V

iStock_000027435029XSmallThis week, Grand Theft Auto 5 made an astounding $800 million in worldwide sales on the first day of its release – the highest amount ever earned in first day sales for a video game!

Rockstar, the creators behind Grand Theft Auto series, are masters of viral marketing and video game promotion.

While you might not be selling video games, there is still plenty that you can learn from the marketing strategies of Rockstar Games.

Here are some of the secrets behind GTA V’s blockbuster success that you can implement in your business.

Build Anticipation For Your Product

In October 2011, Rockstar Games tweeted that Grand Theft Auto V was in production, with a link for the GTA V website.

Fans that visited the newly established site learned that on November 2nd, they could expect to see a trailer for the new game.

To further heighten excitement, the site even featured a countdown timer!

Over the next 20 months, Rockstar Games released 6 different trailers for the new game. By the time the game was actually ready for release, customers were as excited as a 6-year old the night before Christmas.

Building anticipation for your product is a great way to ensure outstanding first week sales – and the key behind the six and seven figure product launches I’ve designed for my private clients…

As we saw with Grand Theft Auto, the key to a successful launch is to share valuable content with your audience in the weeks (or days for a quicker launch) leading up to the products release.

These tactics create buzz around your product, and beef up anticipation by getting people talking well before the product is available.

Preorder Bonuses And Discounts

Before Rockstar even released Grand Theft Auto V, they knew that it was going to be a hit based on preorder numbers.

The bonus that accompanied Grand Theft Auto V differed depending on where the game was preordered.

If buyers purchased from Rockstar’s own website, they were provided with a signature GTA V T-Shirt. If they made their pre-order from GamesStop, they received key chains and double sided posters.

Bonuses and discounts can be an effective way to lock in sales before you release a product. Preorder bonuses create limited-release incentives to get in early! If you have a product that serves a big enough need in your market, you may even be able to get your customers to pay you in advance to develop it.

Use Guerrilla Marketing Tactics

Guerrilla marketing uses low cost, unconventional marketing tactics that can create a big return on investment.

Despite the fact that Rockstar Games is now one of the “big kids” on the block, they have continued to implement these effective guerrilla marketing tactics.

An example of this occurred in March 2013, when artists were spotted spray-painting the box art for Grand Theft Auto V on a wall.

Adding to the intrigue, the artists stopped when they were only half-finished with the mural. If you have a limited budget or a much larger competitor, look for ways to use guerrilla marketing to tip the scales back in your favor.

Engage And Involve Your Audience

Rockstar Games understands the importance of creating a deep level of engagement with their fans.

With GTA V, they have taken this one step further by actually making fans part of the game.

Rockstar set up a unique website for The Epsilon Program (a scientology-esque cult featured in the game). Players were then invited to register for The Epsilon Program on the website. Once registered, players learned that the purpose of the site was actually to act as a casting call for its fans. Five members were selected to become actors in the game!

This was not the only time Rockstar involved its fans…

For GTA IV, Rockstar encouraged its users to send in recordings of themselves ranting. These recordings were then included in the video game’s talk radio channel, WKTT.

For marketers, there is an important lesson to learn here about how you can involve your customers in the development of your product.

By engaging your customers in this development process, you will significantly increase their likelihood of them purchasing the end product.

Who doesn’t like to see their own handiwork?

Marketing Like Rockstar

GTA V has a lot to teach us about how to market like a Rockstar…

Guerrilla marketing tactics, audience participation, pre-order bonuses, and anticipation-building are all great ways to guarantee outstanding first week sales.

Why not use them to “steal” some of your own industry’s market share?

With gratitude,

Charlie