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Five Growth Principles by Timo Soininen, CEO at Small Giant Games

1. Understand your market and focus on things that really matter.
After our first game, (which was not a success) we gathered around our planning table and started to analyze the market. The emerging result was to try create a game which would bridge two large game genres, fun and easy casual games with complex and time-consuming mid-core games. At the same time other part of the very small team was busy creating tens of game prototypes in two months. 

The combination of market insight and excellent prototype, and early design for a new game, was the crossroads moment and that’s how Empires & Puzzles was born. Successful games companies are based on a systematic and data-driven approach, and marketing combines with talented game designers and creative teams building the core of a successful game. This same principle in my opinion applies to every single company in a digital era.

2. Data based business model and flexible analytics tools are a must.
Instead of digital marketing, we speak of performance marketing. Profitable marketing means that when you make a marketing investment, you know when it’s going to pay you back. In Small Giant Games we all do have opinions but everything we do is tested. We spent over USD 90 million in marketing in 2018 and use mainly only a few network channels to gain efficiency, as opposed to bigger gaming companies may have 20-40+  channels deployed.

3. Motivate and incentivize everyone in the team. 
Everyone in the team should have their skin in the game in one way or another. To foster the culture of efficiency ,“Does it need to be done?” is the first question to be asked as a small team cannot do everything. Scarcity can create efficiency.

We are currently 50 people, and a relatively small headcount is a state we wish to keep to maintain the culture of efficiency , focus and motivation. We involve key people and use collaborative decision making, but in very small teams, to make thing move fast and cherish our lean, open culture.

4. Brutal honesty about your competencies. 
Identify areas in which you are not good enough and learn them. It seems that very few Finnish companies actually study their competitors and learn from them. “Why are they doing this? Can we learn from this, or block this?” For example, performance marketing competence was one of our weak spots  two years ago, but we decided to fix it to succeed:  we learned the basics, built the systems and  hired the best people top the team, and in a few months after that decision were among the best performing marketers in Europe.

5. Be fast – learn and adapt: Open information and modern collaboration tools. 
Like in Fingertip, our staff has an open access to information. You have to have a dashboard approach if you wish to move into the high clock-speed phase. Traditional way, sitting and waiting around that someone else will make decisions, is not going to work. Small Giant crew fast adapts to any new tools or best practices. And it does not matter who is the source of the new idea.

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