Early in 2023, we began conversations with Beijing-based Hero Games – a mobile game developer with more than 2000 employees and a valuation of more than $100 Million.
Hero Games owned several well-known mobile games with strong brands overseas but their parent brand – Hero Games – was mostly unknown. This was making it difficult to attract top-level international talent and expand their games into markets like the US, Brazil, and Europe.
To help them close the brand gap they decided to explore hiring a US-based agency like Big Red Jelly to help them with brand image, positioning, and message.
After multiple late-night calls (there is a 14-hour time difference between Beijing and Provo, Utah), several videos with custom intros, outros, and branding (more on this later), 2 custom presentations decks, too many internal meetings, and hours of work – we finally got this notice from Hero Games.
Where do we go after this? Do we just chalk this one up to bad luck and hope for a better result next time? We could do that but then we doom ourselves to repeating the same mistakes.
Instead, we took accountability, performed a “postmortem,” and discovered where we went wrong. There were a lot of things we did right throughout the process but 3 big things we did wrong that ultimately made all of the difference.
What were those 3 mistakes? I’m glad you asked.
1. We Didn’t Understand Their Decision-Making Process
We never actually met with their CEO who was the ultimate decision maker and neither did we uncover or understand what their internal decision-making process looked like and who would be involved.
Lesson #1 – Always ask about the decision-making process and if you aren’t dealing with the decision maker give your best effort to try and involve him/her in your meetings.
2. We Didn’t Focus Enough on the Tangible Results
We custom-designed some incredible pitch decks and videos as part of the proposal for Hero Games – Just look at the intro we made for one of the videos we sent them.
Looking back, the time spent on design would have been better spent on finding case studies and tangible results Hero Games could expect from this project.
Finding an example of a similar company who updated their parent brand and then achieved great results because of those changes would have been more powerful than any custom video intro.
Lesson #2 – Focus first on the tangible results you will help your client to achieve and then you can impress them with your awesome designs and well-established process.
3. We Didn’t Understand Their Budget
Yes, we are in the camp of asking potential clients what their dedicated budget is and we even got a price range from Hero Games.
The problem was that it was a massive range and we took it as face value without diving deeper.
Here are a few questions we would have asked looking back.
- What would you estimate this current brand gap is costing you?
- What would warrant paying for a project at the high end of the spectrum versus the low end?
- Where is this budget coming from? Is being taken from another marketing area? Why is this project more important/time-sensitive than the other one?
- What would you say your CEO would value this problem at? What is he willing or wanting to spend?
A deeper understanding of their budget could have allowed us to better customize their solution to make sure we were on target versus making our best guess.
Lesson #3 – Be willing to ask the hard questions around their budget to uncover their true needs and goals.
Even if we had done everything perfectly, there is still a chance that we don’t close Hero Games. Ultimately those decisions are out of our control.
What we can control is making our best effort with every prospect and learning from the results.
My hope is that you will learn from our mistakes and that these lessons will help you to close the Hero Games in your business!
Written by Nathan Hooper