About a year ago, I started playing the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons—something I hadn’t done since I was twelve. I’m not exactly sure what drew me back. It could be that the older I get, the more nostalgia I feel for my childhood and the games, movies, and TV shows I grew up with. It might also be a reaction to our digital world—and that D&D is a fun way to geek out with interesting people in a gloriously old-school analog kind of way. Plus, it’s fun, creative, and collaborative—things I also happen to enjoy about marketing. And that’s not all. It turns out D&D can also teach us marketers some lessons about how to do our jobs better. Here are a few:
- Have a plan. In D&D you don’t want to just burst into a dark and scary dungeon without doing some careful investigation first. You need to take your time. Look for traps. Have a strategy in place. In marketing, the same rule applies. Don’t put something out into the world without a solid marketing plan. Marketing success starts all the way back at the research stage. To be effective you need to understand the target audience, study the competition, know what makes your product or service unique—and then use that knowledge to develop a smart strategy and a clear plan of attack.
- Leverage the team. In D&D, everyone plays a character with unique strengths and weaknesses. Some are masters at wielding a sword. Others are powerful spell casters. Others specialize in hand-to-hand combat. A successful party embraces the idea of teamwork and leverages each player’s strengths, skills, and abilities. As marketers, we do the same thing. While sometimes one person slays the dragon (metaphorically speaking), it takes a whole team to succeed. When it comes to creative work, pitching a new client, or anything else, marketing works best when it’s a group effort.
- Tell a story. D&D is basically collaborative storytelling. It builds community, grows friendships, and keeps people interested and engaged. And it’s one of the most powerful and enduring aspects of the game. That’s because storytelling is an essential part of the human experience—something that brings people together, helps us solve problems, and teaches us how to live. It’s also the best kind of marketing. When you can infuse your brand communications with aspects of storytelling, you make a stronger emotional connection with your audience, help them better remember your message, and engage them in a deeper, more meaningful way—all things which lead to greater marketing success and better customer relationships.
So whether your hobbies include D&D or something else, it’s good to keep in mind that using your outside interests to bring a new perspective to your marketing can help you shift your thinking, increase creativity, and add a little fun along the way.