Over the past 4 years, the words “Sony needs to advertise better” have been shouted on podcasts, by industry “analysts,” and of course by the throngs of gamers who think they pinpointed Sony’s problem.
While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, only several privileged people get to work behind the curtains for the prestigious electronics maker. And while everyone thinks they know what Sony should do, there’s only a handful of people who could and do lose their jobs based on their decisions and actions.
So what makes thousands of gamers more qualified to discern what Sony’s marketing push for the PlayStation 3 brand and all of its exclusive games is?
Nothing…in fact, people in general should think more before speaking. It’s easy to point and claim you know what to do when there is no pressure, but the real crux of the argument is that while you are sitting on your soapbox buying games, Sony is raking in the cash because the business model for the Playstation 3 brand is just now starting to pan out.
Word of mouth is one of the most convincing and powerful forms of advertising. The best part…it’s free. It is also one of the most subtle ways to address the general public because it can not be controlled, directed, or manipulated by one specific entity or person. It varies depending on consumer experience, brand awareness, product quality, and many other factors that are derived from a company’s track record and general public appeal.
It is surprising then, that so many gamers and analysts would speak before thinking clearly. Every time you speak or write the words “Sony” or “Playstation 3” you’re doing them a favor, so why should they spend buckets of money buying exclusives, making huge marketing campaigns, or throwing lavish parties when they already have your attention?
Sony’s products speak volumes and in the case of the Playstation 3, that is 50 GBs….and some times more. Blu Ray has become the dominant format in this market. The Playstation 3’s price and free online are drawing many people fed up with online fees. The sheer amount of quality exclusives the Playstation 3 has is unrivaled despite the amounts of money spent on exclusivity by competition.
Sony’s formula is quite simple. Tactical spending + brand awareness + word of mouth = success. Just look at the buzz that both Killzone 2 and now Heavy Rain have generated with a mere beta, a demo, or viral marketing which probably costs maybe a few thousands to run. The name “Sony” is synonymous with quality and that is one of the reason that viral marketing and word of mouth have worked so well.
Every podcast, every gaming site, people on Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, and other social sites are all lauding Heavy Rain for its fresh approach and rich story buttressed by the enigmatic cast of characters. For those that own a PS3, it comes as no shock and for the many others that know of Sony’s excellent gaming history, it generates excitement and nostalgia. While these feelings don’t necessarily transfer into immediate sales, it does induce consumer faith. Eventually when consumers are faced with the decision of buying a console, they will have not only the opinions of their peers to consider, but now they have their own feelings and general knowledge of Sony’s products as incentive to buy the PS3. Ask your friends why they are buying a system? An exclusive game? Free online? Blu Ray? Maybe they saw it on a commercial but chances are they heard it via some type of social media.
All those people saying “Sony needs to market better” are playing their part in Sony’s master plan–they just do not realize it yet. But with the console gap shrinking, one has to wonder who has spent their money more wisely? Some say “money talks.” The truth is people talk and that seems to be what Sony is banking on.