The last two weeks or more have been spent rethinking where 6d6 is and the drive to make 2012: The Year We Make a Profit is taking us. During this time we have talked among ourselves, talked to other people and tried to look at 6d6 with cold, hard business focused eyes. These are some notes we made on this process but here are the headlines.
Too Much Time Spent On Physical Products
About 50% of my time is spent working on the design and organising the production of physical products, e.g. books and cards. This is in part because we have special requirements (we need cards), in part because we have a distinctive physical style that is more difficult to produce and also because we are dealing with very low volumes. This is compounded because we have multiple products each with its own special requirements.
Physical Products Cost Us Money To Sell
We pay our writers one third of the sales prices of a book plus we have high production costs. This means that we make very little on physical goods and in some cases we end up a few pence out of pocket. We had hoped that as we got to grips with printing and production we could get the costs down to a reasonable level. This has not been possible and savings in one area, e.g. book covers, have been wiped by increased costs as we raise the production quality in others, e.g. cards.
Not Viable In Shops
To get into retail, we have to offer the shop at least a 30% discount. If we want to be distributed, it is another 20% discount on top. If we are already effectively losing money on physical goods, then discounting them by 50% so we can sell more of them is a very fast route to bankruptcy.
This inability to get into shops is crippling our ability to spread because being in retail is as much about advertising your existence as it is about selling goods.
Too Many Products
What is noticeable when we are at conventions talking to new potential customers is that our product range is confusing. With games as different as Mince Pies & Murder (story-telling, whodunit RPG) and 6d6 Shootouts (violent card game) it can be hard for a customer to grasp what we are selling. We need a simpler, more straight forward message to our products.
The ‘too many products’ problem also impacts on our ability to get into retail because the range is also confusing for the hard-pressed shop keeper. It also increases the amount of stock we have to carry which means more of the company’s money is tied up.
Digital Makes Money
Our most profitable items are memberships to 6d6 Online and the Library Card. These have very low costs and correspondingly high profit margins. They are also comparatively easy to sell because they are a value proposition, e.g. why buy one product for £20 when you can have everything for £40? We can also easily offer discounts to make them even more attractive.
It Is Hard To Get Started In 6d6
With most RPGs, you can grab the rule book, some dice, a sheet of paper and get started. 6d6, because of the cards, is more complex and time consuming to get started. This hinders sales directly as customers think “I need to print out all those cards” and decide not to buy. It also causes problems indirectly as those sales we do make, don’t lead to groups playing 6d6 as they find it is too much effort. Without groups playing our games, our ability to spread is retarded.
What Is Our Plan
Having identified what is wrong, we need a plan to fix it. Watch out more news on this in the next couple of days.