Publisher Advice: The Most Important Metric

It’s normal to measure your performance. After all, unless you know how you are doing it is very hard to improve. However, like me, you’ve probably been measuring the wrong thing…

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)
By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


Over the last twenty-odd years, I’ve had several jobs. I’ve been a bar manager and licensee (several times), a marketer and an account manager. I’m currently publisher at Raging Swan Press. While my jobs have all been different, they’ve had several things in common. Chief amongst those things is that my performance was measured.

  • While I was a bar manager and licensee we measured daily, weekly and monthly sales.
  • While I was a marketer, we measured how many new listings or promotions I secured.
  • While I was an account manager, we measured my sales volume and profit.
  • When I founded Raging Swan Press, I measured myself on many of the same things: sales, revenue, reviews and website hits.

It’s recently occurred to me, I’ve been missing the point. Sure, you can measure downloads, revenue or whatever and that’s fine. It can provide valuable information about what works and doesn’t work, but it’s not the most important thing.

What I’ve Actually Been Measuring is Trust

When a customer came to my bar, they were buying a drink (or two). But that wasn’t all they were buying. It wasn’t really about the drink – they could have drunk at home. They trusted they would have a good night out that was worth the extra expense.

The same is true at Raging Swan Press. When a customer purchases a Raging Swan Press product he is trusting us to provide a product that surpasses his basic needs. For example, a GM can run his players through any given module, but they may not have a great time. When someone buys a copy of Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands (our most successful product to date) he is trusting it will be an exciting, engaging adventure. If we fail in that mission, we erode or lose his trust.

Without trust, your business is doomed. Sure, you might get lots of one-off sales but you’ll fail to secure the repeat business of loyal fans (or “regulars” in bar speak). You’ll be constantly struggling for business. You’ll fail to get traction.

How do you Measure Trust?

I’m not sure you can measure it like sales or listings.

Sure, if your sales are increasing month on month, year on year that’s a good indication things are going well. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have your customers’ trust. Increased awareness of your company, promotions and many other factors can affect your sales.

Finding a way to discover if your customers are repeatedly buying your products is a good start. Discovering if they’d recommend you to another gamer is another great indicator of the trust they hold in your business. Good reviews are an indication of trust; if the reviewer feels comfortable recommending your product to the gaming community he is demonstrating trust in your company.

Help Fellow Publishers

Do you have any other clever ways of measuring trust? I’d love to hear them – please leave a comment below and help other publishers measure what’s truly important!

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

6 thoughts on “Publisher Advice: The Most Important Metric”

  1. You were my first third-party purchase and I’ve definitely bought more from you than anyone else, not to mention your handy dandy blog is fantastic. When I purchase your products I’m completely confident I’m going to be pleasantly surprised (expecting surprises is probably a paradox but I actually don’t care). I almost forgot about that drama with the other publisher and Dungeon Dressings: Portcullises being given out for free yonks ago – what a laugh. It’s been ages since I purchased anything actually, I thinks it’s time to pop over to the Paizo store. Cheers!

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words and the support, Glen. They are both much appreciated. I also remember the Dungeon Dressing: Portcullis snafu!

      Before you pop off to the Paizo store, I have just set up some bundles on d20 PFSRD that might be up our street. A chap contacted me last week and asked to buy everything! Obviously, I did him a deal! My favourite is the “Mega Essential GM Tools Bundle. Here’s a link in case you fancy splurging:

  2. Je n’ai pas la solution pour mesurer la confiance, sauf peut-être la mienne. Celle que je place dans les autres est très souvent mal placée, mais je ne le sais qu’après…

    A ce jour je constate en tous les cas une chose : les contacts que l’on essaie de prendre par l’intermédiaire de réseaux tels que celui sur lequel je m’exprime aujourd’hui sont la plupart du temps inexistants ! Combien de fois ai-je envoyé des “inmails” à des personnes qui n’ont pas pris la peine de répondre. A se demander pourquoi ils sont inscrits sur de tels réseaux !…

    Dans les divers jobs que j’ai exercés durant ma carrière professionnelle, notamment l’enseignement du français aux non-francophones et éditeur de jeux de sociétés, j’ai pu mesuré le degré de confiance, surtout dans l’enseignement, par le phénomène du bouche à oreille : les gens satisfaits en parlent à d’autres et ainsi de suite. Les clients ont manifesté une double confiance : envers ceux qui leur ont donné mon adresse et envers moi qui ai donné les cours.

    Si on ne peut pas mesurer le degré ni même simplement la confiance, en revanche on doit être très professionnel dans son management. On ne devrait pas se permettre le moindre dilettantisme, car il se paie cash !

    Finalement je ne sait pas si on a besoin de mesurer la confiance de nos clients. Ce qui importe avant tout, c’est de créer un climat de confiance avec ceux qui pourraient devenir nos clients. Il faut pour cela être, je l’ai déjà dit, professionnel, sérieux, honnête et ne jamais considérer un petit client comme un mauvais client. La confiance se gagne…et elle n’a pas de prix. C’est sans doute ce qui rend la chose un peu compliquée.

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