The Final Fantasy Marketing Strategy: Nostalgia & Back Catalogue Introduction

Note: I’ve tried to keep this spolier-free, but if you’ve yet to start playing Final Fantasy XV and you want to be kept 100% surprised at what’s in store, then it might be best to hold off from reading this post. You have been warned, dear reader.

I recently bought and started playing Final Fantasy XV (FFXV for short), having been a life-long fan of the Final Fantasy series (my first taste was with FFVIII in the late 1990s, in case you were wondering – don’t worry, I discovered FFVII later on, it’s ok). 😉

One thing that’s really grabbed my interest while playing it is how Square Enix (its creators) are framing it: when you start loading FFXV ready to play it on a PS4, you’re greeted with this message:

FFXV intro tagline

“A FINAL FANTASY for Fans and First-Timers.”

It’s the “First-Timers” bit that especially got me thinking. It’s pretty much a given that fans of previous games of the series will dive right in – so it’s interesting to see that they’re also targeting and marketing the game to complete newbies to the franchise.

In this post I talk about how Square Enix’s marketing strategy for FFXV is two-pronged…

First… a bit about Final Fantasy and Square Enix

FFXV cover artFor those of you who are reading this but haven’t ever played a Final Fantasy game before, it’s important to know that they’re not ‘true’ sequels in a series. For example, the characters of Final Fantasy XIII don’t appear in FFXV – it’s a new set of characters, a new world, a new story. However there are similarities – and expectations from fans – of each new FF game, as I’ll talk about below. It’s similar to games series’ like Elder Scrolls (i.e. Skyrim) and Grand Theft Auto – in the case of the latter, the protagonist of GTA IV does not appear in GTA V, although there are certainly ‘nods’ to previous games.

Square Enix has been pumping out FF games since FFI was developed way back in 1987. In recent years however, it has been no real secret that the company has been struggling financially. Some were theorising that they were banking – maybe even relying – on FFXV being a hit, a make-or-break game in the series which may determine their future. Well, reviews of FFXV are good, sales have been strong (in the millions of units), and in the last few days they’ve struck a deal with Marvel, so it looks like they’re gonna be ok (phew). But given this on-the-brink-of-catastrophe feeling they’ve had in recent years, it looks like they have really been pulling out all the stops to try and make their later releases accessible to fans old and new.

Let’s start with the former – us old-timers…

For fans – it’s all about the nostalgia, baby

FFXV carries with it what other games have had in the past… There’s monsters such as flans and behemoths and iron giants. There’s spells like Fire and Blizzard and Thunder. There’s chocobos! There’s a Cid! The gameplay mimicks the previous versions (you have HP and MP, you encounter enemies in the big open world, you level up and get stronger)… You get the idea.

Click to read more!

It’s 2017 & I’m Still Seeing “SEO is Crap” Discussions…

Angry face art“The world is on fire,” the mighty Ed Harcourt recently sung.

2017 has begun, swirling from 2016’s turbulent aftermath of Trumps and Brexits – and yet here I am, publishing my first post of the year nitpicking about what someone said about SEO.

“In the name of SEO”

I regularly check and contribute to the Cardiff Start Facebook group, and got a little excited when I saw someone asking for advice on content marketing. While I didn’t contribute myself, SEO got mentioned – although in a way that got my back up a bit:

Cardiff Start FB group comment screenshot
Mike offers some great advice – the only problem is that very first line. The pertinent text (with emphasis added):

“First. Prioritise quality over quantity – pumping out volumes of crap in the name of SEO helps nobody – times have changed.”

Aside from one other teeny-tiny mention, this was the only mention of SEO in the whole thread. A whole thread about content marketing and SEO is seen as the bad bit. “Don’t do it” is essentially what’s being recommended.

I’d usually roll my eyes at comments like this – like I’ve done so many times in the past – but my concern here was that people who are new to content marketing may be new to SEO, too. And now their whole experience of something that could be so crucially beneficial to their website/their business/their livelihood has been tainted. Also, a few people Liked it, suggesting agreement.

So what’s the alternative? Later on, Mike goes on to say that content should provide three things:

a. build trust with existing and potential customers
b. develop your own unique, tailored, audience
c. create demand for your service or product with that audience

Here’s a question for you: why can’t content fulfil that criteria and have an SEO focus?

SEO doesn’t have to be a dirty word

One of my clients has done insanely well creating content with a bit of an SEO focus. With my help, he’s grown his blog from 30 organic search visits a month to 10,000+. That’s an increase of over 300x – in other words, 300 times more people are visiting his website through search engines (through SEO) than they were previously.

So, is he “pumping out volumes of crap” in order to do this? Is that the secret? No. He’s writing good quality content, which helps to build trust with existing and potential customers, that’s unique and tailored to the audience, and that helps to create demand for his service with that audience. Hey, does that sentence seem familiar? Look up a couple of paragraphs.

Click to read more!

3 Events Down – What Cardiff SEO Meet Has Achieved So Far (& Future Plans)

Cardiff SEO Meet May crowd banner
After teasing the idea of running regular Cardiff SEO events this time last year, in March I introduced Cardiff SEO Meet. We had our first event in May, and we’ve run two more since then: one in August and one in November.

A while back in a post on State of Digital, I argued that running events is a good way to get inbound links, which can help on the SEO front. Running the event has been a good way to practice what I preach – and not only has it helped in gaining links, it’s helped in numerous other ways, too.

The benefits of running a local meetup

In this post I wanted to talk about what Cardiff SEO Meet has achieved so far (links or otherwise), and tease potential future plans…

It’s helped me to get links

When I launched the meetup, a couple of local publications covered it:

TD screenshot
In addition to linking to Cardiff SEO Meet’s Meetup group page, they linked to MOM (my freelance site) as well – a nice added bonus, which I wasn’t expecting. Even if they’d only linked to the former, it links to the latter, so I would’ve got some ‘link juice’ anyhow. But a direct link was even better.

At least I wasn’t talking rubbish in my StOD post eh? Hehe.

It’s helped me to meet potential clients

Another pleasant off-shoot of announcing the meetup: someone I knew at my office location (not a part of Welsh ICE, but based in the same building) got in touch saying that they saw me announce it, that they didn’t realise I was an SEO, and that they’d like to have a chat. So simply announcing the event got interest from a potential client. Nothing came of it immediately unfortunately, but we’ve kept in touch, so something could come of it in the future – “never say never,” as they say. They’re a pretty sizeable, £1M+ turnover business, so a nice client if it does come on-board.

It’s resulted in a potential shadowing/secondment opportunity

For a while now I’ve considered hiring staff and growing MOM into a full-on SEO agency. I’d been considering a few options – such as Jobs Growth Wales, GO Wales, etc. – when a low risk, dip-your-toe-in-the-water opportunity came up. One of the attendees of the first few meetups is a junior SEO working in-house for a local company, and he suggested shadowing me. It’s win-win: he learns more SEO tricks of the trade from a more experienced SEO (and takes that back to his employer), while I get a taste of being an employer. It’s still in-the-works but we’re hoping to work something out early next year.

Click to read more!

Vote for SEOno in the UK Blog Awards 2017!

UKBA17 badge
UPDATE: Voting is now closed!

Once again, having previously entered in 2015 and 2016, SEOno is up for public vote in the UK Blog Awards 2017 (#UKBA17).

While I’ve never had the honour of winning, in 2015 I was a finalist in the PR, Media, Marketing & Comms (Individual) category, and in 2016 I was a finalist in the Digital & Technology (Individual) category.

The first phase is a public vote, so I would welcome your votes. If anything I’ve written on here has helped you out or made you laugh (or both!) then please chuck us a vote: blogawardsuk.co.uk/ukba2017/entries/seono. It only take 30 seconds – you just have to give your name, your email address and choose a category (the first option is both categories together, so go for that one ideally please)! 🙂 Voting ends at 10am on Monday 19th December 2016.

Many thanks!

Looking Back on Your Achievements

Celebratory whiskey image
We all sometimes get that feeling at the end of the working day where you just sit there are you think to yourself: “enh, it feels like I didn’t get anything done today…”

One of my favourite ever blog posts (which annoyingly I can’t find for the life of me now) offered a great tip on this: actually write down what you did that day. That way, despite feeling like you might’ve accomplished nothing of note, you’ll actually see for yourself what you did and therefore realise that you managed to get a fair bit done.

When you’re engrossed in the day-to-day, it can also be easy to forget what’s happened in the bigger picture – such as during a year-long period. As we enter December, take the time to write down your achievements over the past year. Here’s mine from 2016:

  • MOM‘s income increased for the third year running – an increase of around 60% on the previous year
  • I started work with a company that I’d considered a potential dream client for years (Target Group)
  • I continued to get good results for clients… In one instance I helped to increase a client’s organic traffic by 300x in one year (from c. 30 visits per month to over 10,000 visits per month)
  • I spoke at the mighty brightonSEO for the second time (link to talk info, etc.)
  • I was a finalist in the UK Blog Awards for the second time
  • I’ve continued to write for State of Digital, and continue to receive great feedback from my editor
  • I launched Cardiff SEO Meet – we’ve had three meetups so far with turnouts of around 30-40 each time
  • I did a lightning talk for charity and raised over £300 for Climb (Children Living with Inherited Metabolic Diseases)
  • I was invited to give a talk on SEO at the Big Ideas Wales Business Bootcamp (an event which made national news), which was a huge honour
  • SEOno – this very blog – turned 5-years-old, a heck of a milestone in my eyes

And the best bit? We still have a month to go.

Don’t get me wrong – there have been problems, hassles, frustrations and probably an epic fail or two this year, too. But why fixate on that? Learn from it and move on.

How have you done this year?

[Image credit – Heather Anne Campbell]