Everything I Need to Know about Marketing I Learned from Dungeons and Dragons [DMC Recap]
Ian Lurie Founder and former CEO of Portent got up during DMC to talk about “Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned from Dungeons and Dragons.“ He walked the audience through some of the basic rules of Dungeons and Dragons and then connected those rules to basic principles of marketing. Ian touched on 8 different points on what Dungeons and Dragons can teach you about marketing.
Manage the Random
In Dungeons and Dragons there is a Dungeon Master who is in charge of designing the world you play in. Ian says marketers are the Dungeon Master with one exception: in no way are marketers in charge. Random things happen—like getting outranked by a competitor who’s using your brand keywords, or the audience going to the wrong page or buying from a competitor—so it is the marketers’ job to manage the random in brand messaging, to help make the brand and message clear to the customers.
Build a World Not a Railroad
In Dungeons and Dragons you can create whole worlds and railroads to connect those worlds. Lurie talked about how as marketers we sometimes want to put potential customers on a railroad and force them to go down the sales funnel in a certain direction. Instead of focusing on railroads, Lurie advises focusing on building a world for your customers. Research the routes you customers might take to discover your company so you can prepare for any scenario and capture that audience. It is the marketers’ job to guide the audience to your brand.
Tap the Backstory
When playing Dungeons and Dragons it is the Dungeon Master’s job to create backstories for each of the characters, and the same applies to marketers. It is the job of a marketer to tap into the backstory of your products. Lurie used the phrase “Answer the public.” Know your brand’s backstory well enough to answer, and the backstory behind an inquiry or complaint. Lurie used the example of people who sell data being able to look at different data sources and answer the public that they can compare data features or do onsite searches for comparisons.
Use Their Language
Understanding the language of Dungeons and Dragons is the only way you can successfully play the game. The same applies to marketing, learn what your potential customers are searching for. Lurie suggests starting with Google Trends and doing online searches to see what searches are common. Use your customers’ language in your site’s navigation bar. Lurie also said no one cares about your leadership, so take the Leadership, About Us, and Contact Us pages out of your navigation bar, and put in more products or product links instead.
No One Cares about the Cows
Lurie discusses a time when he was playing D&D and the dungeon master gave great detail about the cows in one world. This taught Lurie that in marketing, sometimes unnecessary details can distract customers from the main goal of buying into your brand.
Give People Higher ROTI
Dungeons and Dragons is a big time commitment and the same thing happens when customers land on your site. People are giving your brand their time so it is a marketer’s job to give them a high return on time invested. Do simple steps such as proofreading all content and posts, giving people confidence in your brand, and giving good accessibility.
Work with Your Book in Your Lap
As you can imagine D&D is a rule driven game, so it is common practice for players to play with the rule book in their laps. The same can apply to working in marketing. There are a lot of rules when it comes to marketing and Lurie suggests you always come prepared with the rules so you can show your expertise to clients about marketing. You do not have to know everything. Use your resources and ask. Don’t pretend to know something you don’t know, but come prepared with the rule book of marketing!
Evil is Overrated
In Dungeons and Dragons you can choose to be good or evil in the world and one thing Lurie has learned from his D&D experience is that evil is overrated. People want goodness to win. If you choose the wrong approach in marketing the whole world will attack you and it gets boring. Know that it is a player’s world and it is the marketer’s job to set the tone, so choose to be good, and build the world around the players.
If you would like to know more from Ian Lurie you can learn more from him here.