Dungeons & Dragons, D&D, is a popular fantasy tabletop role-playing game wherein a dungeon master controls the environment and storyline for the players.
Since 1974, people have been sitting down together to invent worlds and have adventures from the comfort of their own homes.
As a dungeon master, it is up to you to control the game flow and manage how your players are interacting with the environment and creatures under your control. These skills, learned by becoming a dungeon master, can be easily translated into your media planning.
But how? Simple! Pull up a folding chair, bust out your bag of dice, and roll for initiative: It’s time to play!
Before each campaign kicks off, and in between each playing session, the dungeon master plans every detail. How is the world going to look? What creatures will the players come across? Who is good? Who is evil? What are the steps involved that could get everyone to the end of the story?
There is a lot that goes into this step, and if anything is glossed over or not well thought out, the campaign can easily be derailed, or at the very least, everyone will stop having fun.
Much like creating a media plan, we need to plan each step to comfortably reach our goals. This might include digital advertising, television, radio, or print. Each of these individual pieces also needs to be broken down into segments with their own strategies so everything is working together to achieve the same overarching goal.
If pieces of the media plan are not heavily considered, the campaign is either going to not be effective or it’s going to fail right out of the gate. So when planning your media, think about who the audience is (your players), what you want them to do (your story and environment), and where you want them to end up (your goals).
Knowing the Rules (or inventing your own)
As the dungeon master, you are the leader of your campaign. When a question about the rules comes up, you will be the one to determine how it will be addressed. When it comes to D&D there are 3 must-have rule books (in my opinion): The Player’s Handbook, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, and The Monster Manual.
However, when it comes to media planning, there are no rule books, just a lot of blog articles about best practices. This means you need to learn how each medium and vehicle works concerning your plan. It’s up to you to determine which medium is the best choice based on your knowledge of the campaign and your goals.
And just like D&D, you are in charge of what best practices you abide by and which ones you ignore for the benefit of the campaign. By definition, best practices aren’t hard and fast rules; they’re best practices, not the only practices.
Dungeon masters can spend days and weeks devising the plot and characters for a campaign. They can write dozens of pages of notes to help them get their players from point A to point B. But it can take seconds and a single dice roll for a player with an arrow and a nearby torch to burn down the pirate ship carrying all your baddies to shore (stupid Nat 20).
In these moments you need to learn to adapt. You can do all the research and planning but you won’t have a clear picture of what is working until it’s up and running. Pay attention to data and listen to your customers — they’ll tell you what needs more focus or what you can move away from.
Your ability to adapt as time goes on will make for a much more effective campaign that best resonates with your audience. Neither D&D nor marketing campaigns are ever written in stone. They can always be edited and in most cases probably should be edited as time goes along. And if you have to completely ditch a portion of your plan, don’t look at it as a complete failure. You tested something and it didn’t work out. That’s how we learn.
Become the Dungeon Master of Your Marketing Campaign
Whether you’re an experienced D&D player who builds your own dice towers or pays a monthly subscription fee to watch other people play D&D, or you’ve never played a single campaign in your life, it’s important to remember the importance of information. You don’t know what you don’t know but doing your research and learning from mistakes will make you a better dungeon master AND a better marketer.
If you’re looking for a mysterious figure in a robe to guide your journey, we’re here to help with either your marketing plan or your D&D campaign.
Our first tip: Use a gelatinous cube. Everyone loves a gelatinous cube.