Interesting ways to market fonts

1996type's picture

It seems the marketing of fonts has recently taken a rather ugly direction, with 90 or 8o% discounts becoming usual for newly released fonts. Ugly, I dare say, because it just devalues it too much. Basically, so it seems, it's just a way to get your fonts into the temporary-bestsellerlists, which generates more sales. I've always been inerested in marketing in general, (this includes commercials, but also pricing, distr. etc.) so I was wondering about some interesting ways of marketing fonts. Underneath is a decent start:

For example, I know that House Industries make beautiful products and artpieces using their fonts. Check this! http://www.houseind.com/objects/objects/

There are some promotional videos: for the Soho fontfamily here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naBDGHYORH8 and for Gira here: http://vimeo.com/45750412

Then there's this beautiful video (not intentional marketing, but what the heck) on akzidenz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtvq46zafOk

Some foundries (exljbris) offer a single style for free, and the rest for a reasonable price. Also interesting marketing.

William's Caslon got a beautiful article about it here: http://ilovetypography.com/2010/07/26/reviving-caslon-the-snare-of-authe...

So, what else is out there? That's what I'm wondering.

Cheers! jasper

hrant's picture

{To Follow}

J. Tillman's picture

Jasper, I'm interested in these ideas also. But I want to take a different view. What you mentioned is good, assuming that people interested in type are going to hit your website. But what if the seller is an little-known type designer, with no web-site traffic? This brings up the real guts of marketing--identifying potential customers and then reaching out to them.
So who are the buyers of type? Is this information available? Hey, we're in the age of big data! Here are some parties that might buy type: book publishers, magazine publishers, newspaper publishers, self-publishing authors, tech writers and tech companies, in-house design departments, graphic design companies, independent graphic designers, book designers, typesetters, newsletter publishers, commercial writers, web designers, and so on. If you knew who was buying type, then you could reach out and say hello. Maybe through social media, or through a printed letter (in a stamped envelope), or in some other way. But I don't think that marketing, for the little guy, is about waiting for people to hit your website. It's about identifying an audience and communicating as directly as possible with them. Is this being done? That's what I would like to hear about.

Jeremy Dooley's picture

Interesting. I would argue that giving fonts away for free devalues the work more than even a 99% discount. At least the customer pays something to appreciate the work, as opposed to perpetrating and reinforcing the myth that fonts are free.

Not criticizing Jos or others at all. Do what works for you, but beware the long term implications. Just an observation.

1996type's picture

@J. Tillman. Agreed it would be interesting to have figures on which sectors buy how many fonts, and perhaps also what kind of fonts.

Judging from the live sales map on myfonts.com, it seems sales are literally spread out over the globe. Most are sold in Europe, then the US, South America, and a surprising amount in India. What I'm trying t say is, it's hard to 'reach out and say hello' to an audience all over the globe...

@Jeremy: Remember it's just one weight. The entire family comes out more expensive when you give one for free, compared to a 90% discount, I'd say. Plus, there's something to say for allowing designers to use and test the font in any environment before paying for the rest of the family.

daverowland's picture

The current trend of massive opening discounts is annoying to say the least. Many who wouldn't normally discount so much have been forced to in order to be seen. It seems that font buyers will buy anything if it's cheap enough (or at least appears to be cheap enough). I might make my next font several thousand dollars and put a 99% discount on it :)

Jeremy Dooley's picture

@Jasper I respectfully disagree; I doubt very much that many that download the free version upgrade to the full family. This causes the consumer to assume that the product, and therefor all fonts have no value, since he did not exchange anything for it.

I have some limited experience with this, and this was my observation, but obviously I cannot speak for all.

The discounts are interesting since I thought the value consumer (freelancers) was annihilated during 2008-, replaced by the big companies, but that may not be the case, hence the discounts.

Nick Shinn's picture

Deep discounting upon release is an artefact of MyFonts, where being on the best-seller lists is tantamount to free advertising.

Jeremy Dooley's picture

Myfonts is a long tail marketplace, but it's always good to be in the top 10%, not the tail.

marcox's picture

You Work For Them is using direct marketing via Facebook. This showed up in my column of sponsored ads.

1996type's picture

Hey marcox :) That's exactly the sort of thing I meant. Thanks!

J. Tillman's picture

Hey 1996type, that's exactly the sort of thing I meant. Target audience...reaching out...social media...
Marcox, do you think the ad showed up because Facebook knows you like type? Do you have any gut feeling as to whether the ad is reaching a target audience of font purchasers? Well, did you click on it?

marcox's picture

Well, Facebook knows I'm part of a group called Phoenix Designers. And many of my posts there are (surprise!) about type and lettering, so Facebook's algorithms made a pretty educated guess.

And I clicked the link for the sake of research and curiosity -- and because I wanted to identify the typeface. :)(Augustus, for those playing along at home.)

daverowland's picture

The boost in sales you get at MyFonts for being in Rising Stars is incredible, which explains how they can charge so much for being a sponsored font (incidentally, this is one marketing strategy not mentioned above). I believe it's only a matter of time before the MyFonts team start taking into account massive introductory discounts and featuring more 'worthy' entries. That's purely speculation, but they did mention in the Best of 2012 newsletter that they'd weighed up font sales correcting for what we might call the Introduction Sales Peak (ISP) in order to get the list. They also limited it to two families per foundry, which I guess went some way towards stopping it being a Yellow Design Studio advertisement!

timd's picture

I received this yesterday via a colleague, it is not really clear (because I haven’t gone into it yet) how this works, presuming the rental is cleared with foundries.

https://skyfonts.com/

Tim

phrostbyte64's picture

At MyFonts, being on the list of top font designers on the front page can't hurt either.

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