It's every marketer's dream-fan sites and newsgroups springing up around the Web devoted to one thing-your product. If it sounds far-fetched, meet Tom Filsinger, 43, founder of Filsinger Games and creator of the increasingly popular Champions of the Galaxy card game. At last count, Champions was the subject of more than 100 fan sites and nearly a dozen newsgroups on the Internet.
Filsinger, a psychology professor in Jamestown, New York, developed the game back when he was bored in high school. In 1986, he revisited his make-believe futuristic wrestling competition and began to market it through a few ads in wrestling magazines. In 1997, he began encouraging fans of the game to create their own characters and exchange them via his Web site.
Filsinger compares his marketing strategy to the Grateful Dead. "The Dead allowed fans to bootleg tapes," he explains. "They believed that people would get more involved with their music and want better-quality recordings, so the recordings would create a new market. I think that encouraging people to create their own characters and exchange them over the Web works the same way. Eventually, they're going to want to turn to us for more characters as well."
Gwen Moran is president of Moran Marketing Associates, a public relations and marketing communications agency in Ocean, New Jersey, and founder of BoostYourBiz.com, an online marketing information resource for businesses. E-mail her at email@example.com
- Filsinger Games, (716) 483-5756, firstname.lastname@example.org