“Our business is Rolla Games. I created it with my partner Matt, he’s a primary school teacher who studied physical education at uni. As part of his studies he was asked to complete a wet weather assignment. He and his dad decided to come up with a board game that taught kids how to play Australian rules football. He has a long history of playing football and it’s something he’s very passionate about.
“He started teaching at a foundation school — a lot of kids came from different cultures around the world and didn’t know how to play footy. He ended up bringing out the board game to teach them and to help them make friends. It had such great success that I said to him, why don’t we think about actually making it so that more kids get the opportunity to play it?
“During COVID we couldn’t travel or anything like that, so we thought why not. After lots of blood, sweat and tears we created Rolla Games. Mad For Footy is the board game, that’s the first game we created. That’s the story of how it came together. I’m a graphic designer, so we kind of just put our heads together. With his background in sport and my graphic design background, we’ve done really everything ourselves.”
Anna and Matt are the owners of Rolla Games. They signed up for the Digital Solutions program when they were getting ready to release their first board game and needed help reaching their target audience. Their goal? “We really wanted to do the program to help us organically get our name out there, think outside the square and make our budget stretch as far as it could in terms of marketing, especially in the early days. It’s obviously expensive starting a company. We couldn’t get the board game made in Australia. Little things like producing it, minimum order quantities, shipping it over here — it didn’t leave a huge budget left for the marketing side of things. We also wanted to learn techniques that work so when we did have a marketing budget we could grow and scale the business.”
Through the program they were paired with Kasia McNaught, an expert in social media marketing. “Kasia was amazing. I think because she had the background, when I did the questionnaire and they asked us what we wanted help with, it was social media and marketing. Especially with our product being aimed at kids, social media is where they’re hanging out. When we were meeting with Kasia we hadn’t launched yet, so it was just a bit preparation for us. Little things we could be doing to lay the groundwork. It was really nice to share that journey, to almost feel like you had someone holding your hand along the way and to give you that support. We didn’t feel like we were on our own.
“It was so on our level as people who didn’t have a background in marketing and social media. You can watch a lot of videos online, but you have to almost be an expert to implement a lot of things. For us it was just little bite-sized, easy things — small tips and tricks we could do. It was great because Kasia didn’t give us the answers but she helped us think in that way so we could come up with our own ideas. After the Digital Solutions program ended, we were still able to keep thinking that way and generating content.”
During their one-to-one sessions, Kasia helped Anna and Matt develop marketing strategies and processes that were a natural fit for their business. “Kasia gave us the idea to get people to sign up to our email list by making a quiz on our website. People can complete the quiz and enter their email address, that was something we’d never thought about and something we still use now. It was a great starting point for us to build confidence and because we are a board game, it was a fun way that we could engage with people. Our first sale was someone on our mailing list we had no previous connection to, it wasn’t a friend or anything like that. That was someone we never would have been able to really reach before her.”
Kasia was also able to provide branding guidance. “My partner makes up such a big part of the brand and she gave us the confidence to actually put our faces to it and understand that our story is part of what’s special about it. It gave us the push we needed to go you know what, we’ve worked so hard on this why wouldn’t we want to put our names and faces to it.”
Working with Kasia also allowed Anna and Matt to access advisory and support to get started with paid advertising on social media, including how they could target their audience with Facebook Ads manager. “Even just having the confidence, if we did do a bit of paid advertising, to try and test it. It’s okay if it doesn’t work the first time, you just have to give it a go. Audiences, that was another thing with Facebook Ads manager. Actually being able to target people who had been on our website before, or who we’d already targeted with ads and then retargeting them. That was something we didn’t know too much about and Kasia was really helpful explaining that to us.”
Anna’s favourite part of the program? “Talking to someone else about our business, and it not feeling salesy or as if you had to say the right things. My partner and I both learn face to face. We got to sit down with Kasia for each of the sessions and talk about our ideas, it was great to have an objective party who could say to us — this is a good idea, this is a good avenue to go down or maybe think about this instead. I think when it’s your own business, it’s quite easy to get swept up in what you’re doing so it was really nice to have someone else to give us a bit of input.”
Reflecting on her Digital Solutions experience, Anna says, “It really is something where you’ve got nothing to lose. Even if you feel like you know everything about marketing, if you have someone outside of your business, almost like a coach, to bounce ideas off — I just think that’s invaluable. For us it was priceless. For $44, you just won’t get the same value doing other things.”
What’s next for Rolla games? “We’re still getting used to running a business and everything that goes with that. The whole point of us making this game was to bring people together and to be inclusive of all abilities, genders and cultures. If those are the areas we can get into and inspire more kids, whether that be through grants, sponsorships or donations that help us to distribute the game, that’s our next goal. We’re still learning along the way, but for us just getting the game in front of kids in person, whether that be at markets, wind-ups at club days or community days, that’s our next venture.”