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Yesterday, I gave my dear son the “best Valentine’s Day present ever.”

Chocolate? Nope.

Candy? Nope.

Flowers? You’ve gotta be kidding. No way. The kid’s 16.

Nope. But what I did give him, well it was a huge hit.

You see, we were killing time at our local Wally World and as he meandered through the video department, his eyes landed on the latest DVD releases.

And there it sat: “Doom, the unrated version.”

Dang. I actually sat through that entire movie at the theater. I knew the boys (meaning my husband and son) really enjoyed it. And now that same testosterone-addled cinematic triumph sat on the shelf beckoning us to pick it up.

And that we did.

Peder clutched it throughout the store, occasionally releasing it from his chest to take another gander at the DVD extras.

Talk about anticipation.

When we finally got home, I got a good look at the packaging.

Now, marketers and writers… listen up here. This gets interesting.

If you’ll recall, Doom became popular during the long-lost days of DOS. It was a total word of mouth phenomenon generated during the grand days of “Shareware.”

Now, using the shareware model of software sales, Id (the makers of Doom) gave away one level of the game free. If you enjoyed the game, you could order the full version of Doom and voila… they made a sale.

This technique launched Id. According to the documentary I watched last night (on the Doom DVD extras page) Id sold somewhere around 2 million copies of Doom’s full version because they’d distributed millions of copies of their demo.

Wow. Talk about an interesting sales technique. Can anyone say “viral?”

In fact, that same sales technique worked on my family.

In the early 90s, we received a free game on a box of cereal called “Chex Quest.” We didn’t know it at the time, but Id had given the cereal company permission to use the Doom engine to power Chex Quest. We loved the game.

Soon, we absolutely NEEDED more levels. I dug a little and found out Doom powered the freebie game. Before you could say “computer violence,” I’d already picked up our own copy of Doom… later Doom II… then Doom 3… and just yesterday, Doom—the movie.

Here’s the kicker: Guess what’s included on the Doom movie DVD?

A demo of Doom 3 for Xbox.

They’re still giving away demos. The technique must sell software.

Now, just think how you can you apply this bit of marketing info to your writing career….

Talk later!

Beth… who’s getting back to work. And no. I don’t play Doom on company time. Really I don’t. Honest. (OK. I do. But only when I get stuck. Really stuck. And then I don’t play it long. Only long enough to get going again. Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, I’m not a Doom fan. Well, not really. Just kinda… Way too violent for me. Well, not really. I have been known to plaster a few imps into peanut butter. I didn’t just say that, did I? Jeepers. I think I’ll just quit typing. Talk later.)

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