Dungeons and Marketers: An Unorthodox Solution for Hiring Marketers

large d20 and d8 near empty chair and tablesWe talk a lot about content marketing on this blog, and for good reason. It is a proven method that yields massive returns on investment when given the time it needs to grow. However, the issue you might be running into at this point is hiring marketers who can do all of that work. What kind of a person can not only engage with your audience through the internet on a day to day basis, but do so without deviating from your brand’s voice? Who can be engaging and interesting in the way you want your company to be? Who has experience pretending to be somebody completely different outside of Hollywood and Broadway? Indulge me for a moment as I take the insufferable route of answering your questions with a question: have you considered logging into World of Warcraft?

How Does World of Warcraft Relate to Marketing?

Note, I picked this game both for its familiarity and for its type: it is a roleplaying game, and it is online. However, there are hundreds of roleplaying games out there, both digital and tabletop. What binds these games together is that they all request the player to divorce themselves temporarily from who they are and immerse themselves in a fictional world with its own rules and laws. Not all role-playing games are set in fictional worlds: some are set in the real world, thus only requiring the player to become another person.

This is where modern marketing comes into play. As a marketer, your job is to get people interested in your product or service, and guide them down the funnel to purchase. You know where the consumer starts (doesn’t know your product exists), and you know where you want them (purchasing the product), the problem has always been getting them there. Though thousands of tried and true tactics and strategies do exist, the rapid nature of the internet requires marketers to adapt rapidly and come up with new tactics to make them stand out from the rest.

This is where that roleplaying ability comes into the picture. Many of the practices in roleplaying have a marketing equivalent. Coming up with a brand image or a buyer persona is just a variation of what roleplayers call character creation. Engaging with your customers as your company brand is just another form of roleplaying. Your content strategy and content marketing campaigns are all designed around the principle of guiding the consumer through your company story towards an end that promises to resolve a problem. In a tabletop roleplaying campaign, the game master guides players through a world story towards an end that promises to resolve the problem presented.

In short, the game mentioned above has very little to do with marketing on its own merits, it is the people who play the game who have skills and experience you can make use of.

What Skills do They Have Exactly?

OK, so I’ve shown the relationship, the question now becomes a breakdown of what skills they have to offer. We’ll list out the skills necessary to do well in this community, and how it translates into a valuable skillset for you.

outline of people with persona in speech bubblePersona Creation – Critical for any marketing strategy is the creation of buyer personas. These are the people you want to market to, the individuals who would find your product useful. It is not enough to just identify by profession; an effective persona would get down to the details of who these people are, how they conduct themselves in their day to day. The reason you need to get so detailed is because you want your marketing efforts to resonate with these customers.

This is where the role-player comes in. When they go to start up a new game, whether it is a tabletop role-playing game or a video game, they are creating a character. This character is intended to fit in a fictional world, and support a particular style of play. Remember, this is a hobby, meaning that they spend hours doing this and figuring out what works and what does not. Hiring marketers who have created over a hundred characters across dozens of different fictional realities can leverage that ability to create the type of person who would be inclined to buy your product is probably the best possible move. The level of detail can get down to unique personality quirks that could make or break a sale.

Image Consistency – When your brand establishes a presence on the internet, the important part is to keep a consistent presence. This can be a struggle if when hiring marketers as they all have unique quirks, habits, and styles. As a consequence, they might have very different ideas about how to present your brand to customers. It is not enough to be able to create buyer personas or a company image; you have to be able to stick to that image and remain appealing to those target personalities.

This is a problem in many tabletops role-playing games as well. Players are expected, sometimes in stressful situations, to stay in character. This is an incredibly useful trait to have because you will not always engage with customers who are happy with your products and services. However, you can’t have a social media manager who will break from the carefully crafted brand image and get in an internet shouting match (often referred to as a “flame war”) with a customer using your company’s Twitter account.

Content Strategy – If you are looking to role-playing forums and sites when hiring marketers, then you want to find game masters. These are the people who put together the stories used in tabletop role-playing games. However, these aren’t stories on rails – the players are meant to be free to take whatever route they desire, which I’m sure you can imagine would be quite vexing when you spend hours crafting a beautiful tale and the people it is meant for go completely off the rails. This is much like when you craft what you think is a fantastic strategy, only to find your customers going in a completely different direction from what you expected.

This is where an experienced game master comes into play: they would have experience in guiding players along a desirable route while preserving the illusion of choice. Ultimately, this is what you want for your content strategy. You want your content to tell a story that moves customers down the funnel from when they first become aware of your brand to when you finally convert, whether that be through generating a lead or making a sale. So, when hiring marketers, seek out somebody experienced in this form of story-telling, and that person will produce strategies and content that will guide customers to your waiting website.

Creative Content Creation – This is the biggest advantage to seeking out role-players when hiring marketers. Regardless of their role within the game: game master, player, villain, all are storytellers. As we know, storytelling is the direction marketing is moving into, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. In these tabletop games, each person is contributing to the overall story in their own way, collaborating with others to make that story come to life. This fosters a mindset of creativity and teamwork, both of which are essential elements in any business.

Where to go From Here

employer hiring marketers, picking from group of facesHopefully, I’ve sold you on the usefulness of this unorthodox trait to look for when hiring marketers. The only question is: where does one go from here? Finding people who enjoy roleplaying games is easy, one just has to venture forth into the internet and search for roleplaying communities. Just don’t jump in and try to recruit right away, most of the people there already have jobs and even the ones that would normally be interested won’t appreciate the sudden intrusion. Really, who would enjoy somebody suddenly bumping into their favorite hobby just to try and recruit them for a job?

The trick here is to find people on your team who already participate in such hobbies (you have at least one in your marketing team already I’m sure) and ask them if they have any friends looking for a job. That is one of the methods we used to recruit some of our writers here. It is all about networking: just like any other recruitment effort. If you make the plunge into a world of fantasy to try to find your next marketing hire, you will get an employee who is creative, intelligent, and experienced with teamwork. We did it, and it has paid off very well for us.