Coord 208: Advertising your Domain

Finding and recruiting new members is one of the hardest aspects of a coordinator’s duties. It’s time consuming, and sometimes very frustrating. It’s useful to have a dedicated person or people that are willing to put in time as an assistant coordinator of recruitment and outreach as outreach ambassadors. These volunteers will get the word out about the domain or chapter, and that means advertising. But where to advertise? Where are the best places, and  what are the best practices, for advertising the chapter or domain?

Advertising comes in various forms: a print publication, advertise online, advertise on the radio or television, or recruit face-to-face. Since it’s unlikely that a local chapter or domain has the money for a radio or television spot, this article focuses primarily on print publications, online advertising and in-person recruiting.

Print Publications:

The simplest form of print publications are flyers and handouts. These can be a tear-off flyer with a simple email address or phone number tear-off tab, or a small handout that potential members can take with them to peruse at their leisure later.

Creating an effective flyer: There are a number of “How To” guides for creating advertising flyers. A casual google search will yield several guides that will give the general design guides for how to make a visually stimulating and attractive flyer that will appeal to readers. I have given just a few of the hints below that are presented in many of these design guides.

  • Fonts: Avoid unusual or hard to read fonts. Those may look cool and different, but they also make it harder to easily scan and read the flyer, and thus quickly catch the eye of a potential recruit. Keep text simple and easy to read at a distance. Use simple, easily recognizable fonts like Arial, Courier, Times New Roman, or Helvetica.
  • Artwork usage: For most of these flyers it is important to have a logo or piece of artwork in addition to informative text to make the flyer eye catching and memorable. Remember when using a piece of artwork to use something that is going to convey some aspect of the game, either the World of Darkness, gaming, LARP, or a specific venue. Don’t use any artwork that is controversial or overly violent, or has images or logos that have negative connections, or religious affiliations (swastikas, the cross, the star of david, or any other such emblems with known affiliations).

Another general guideline for using artwork in the domain or chapter’s promotional material is to make sure the object of the artwork directs the reader in some way to the information they need to see. If the artwork has a person, make sure they are facing the text. If the artwork has lines, arrows, or geometrical shapes, point them towards the information.

As members of the Mind’s Eye Society, we have the privilege of being able to use White Wolf artwork and Mind’s Eye Society logos in flyers within certain limits as outlined by our agreement with CCP.  Use of any such artwork is subject to the following stipulations:

The official logos are available in EPS, TIFF, and PDF formats. In order to use these in a produced product (such as a recruitment flyer, a webpage, or a newsletter), a copy of the document (such as a bitmap, a screenshot, or a PDF) must be sent to artwork@mindseyesociety.org with at least 72 hours of advance notice, or earlier if preparing a draft copy to ensure that there are no unexpected snags. If the notice doesn’t bounce, and no specific reply is received, then it can be assumed that adequate notice has been made. The email must contain the complete item and a description of what the item is, and what material the artwork is from. Be prepared to make revisions if it is necessary. For the sake of simplicity, this same procedure applies to any use of the MES logo. When using both, only one notice is necessary. However, if changes to what artwork is used occur prior to or during publication, a new notice is required.

Additional information on use of names, logos and other White Wolf or Mind’s Eye Society material can be found in the membership handbook, page 22-23.

What information should be found on the flyer

It is important that when a potential recruit picks up and reads a flyer that they get all the necessary information. Flyers should contain the following information:

  • What: What is the organization that is being promoted? Make sure the Mind’s Eye Society name and logo appear on the flyer, along with how to obtain more information on the club (web page).
  • Who: Who are the people supporting this club? Give a description of the local domain or chapter, along with the name, and the name and email/phone number of the contact person for any potential members.
  • Where: Where can folks find out more information about the club, the chapter/domain? Include web pages and contact information where interested recruits can find out more information about the club and how to join.
  • Why: Why should people be interested in this club? What does club membership offer, and what activities does the club promote? Be sure to give some of the benefits club membership offers, and present what it is we do as an organization.

The information should be presented so that it is easy to obtain with a quick scan of the material, especially contact information. Readers shouldn’t have to hunt for information.

Example of an approved flyer

A 4 x 6 inch flyer placed at local game shops near the register so people can take one with them when checking out.

Placing flyers

There’s a myriad of places  to place flyers. Slap ‘em on every lamppost in the city and they will be seen by lots of locals, but to ensure that the most gain is received from the flyer distribution the placement needs to be narrowed.

Game shops, bookstores, hobby shops, or any place where a group of gamers going to buy books or supplies are a great place to start. Additionally, local colleges, coffee shops, community centers, or public boards at groceries or retail stores can also get a lot of traffic.

Always, always, always check with the management or approving entity before placing any flyers. Check for posting boards where flyers and other material from various groups can be posted, or ask if smaller flyers can be placed near the register. If posting on a campus, check with the student union or activities board to get the flyers approved before putting them up. Most places are ok with club advertisements, particularly if they are tasteful and non-offensive, but occasionally you may find a store or college that doesn’t want to be associated with our organization and it is always a good idea to ask first.

Check in on flyers

Things happen; flyers get torn down or damaged, and need to be replaced. Check in on flyers regularly. If they’re a torn off or taken away then bring more when checking on the flyers to refill or repost them.

Online Media

Chapter or Domain webpage

Make sure the domain or chapter’s  web page is searchable and can easily be found with a simple web search if folks forget the exact address. For more information about building a Domain website, check out Coord 237: Domain Websites.

Online Advertising

The World Wide Web is a large and busy space, and it is easy to get lost in the noise. Advertising a group online can be a tough challenge. Lots of times these types of advertisements have to be linked to a single person, and is dependent on that one person updating and checking on their online links. This can be time consuming and sometimes expensive, however, having a good online presence to help support the domain or chapter is becoming increasingly important and should not be neglected as a viable way to connect with potential members.

Online meet up sites

  • Meetup.com is a paid site where a domain or chapter can advertise the group and set tags for gaming, LARP, etc. to help folks find games. It’s free for individuals and staff can go and sign up for a lot of different interest boards. This is also a great way to find other groups to join to meet potential new recruits.
  • Groupspaces.com is free for groups of less than 250 people. A domain or chapter can be added as a new group that is searchable by other members of the site. The sites gives a group website address and email list that can be used to organize events.
  • Facebook A Facebook group is also useful for creating game events for members already following the group. It is helpful to include a good description of the group so readers will have an idea of what the group is, and where to find more information about the group.
  • www.rpggamefind.com is an online resource for players looking for games and groups looking for members.  There’s a category specifically for live action role-playing games.
  • www.nearbygamers.com The site is aimed primarily at tabletop games and board games, but domains or chapters can still set up a group or advertise on a forum.
  • The Onyx Path forums can be a great place to advertise a chapter or domain game to a much more targeted audience. The player finder feature is no longer in use, but the forums are still a great way to get word out about games.
  • www.penandpapergames.com has it’s own player registry, a member of the domain or chapter can sign up for an account and then find and communicate with players in the area.

Local group meetup sites are also a good place to advertise a chapter or domain, and are going to ensure local interest. Many cities have online meetup spaces that are just for local events.

Whatever site or sites is chosen to advertise the local chapter/domain events, make sure there is a reliable contact person for those sites, and a general use email account to funnel all the information to.

Join other groups

One of the best ways to get the word out about the chapter or domain, is to go do things with people in other groups, and talk about the Mind’s Eye Society and what about the group. Go out to board game nights or trivia nights at the local pub. Get a group together and join a walking, running or biking club, and talk about the group while walking.

In Person Recruitment: Conventions, Game Stores, Troupe Games, Etc.

Conventions

Never neglect a convention, even if all that is done is dropping off some flyers. Conventions are a great way to direct the attention of interested parties. People go to conventions to learn about local groups, and meet up with folks who share their interests. Ask the convention director about putting up a recruitment table and get folks from the domain to man the table during the convention. They can hand out flyers and be there to answer questions about the group and discuss what we do.

 

If possible, run an event at the convention. A one-shot vampire game is a great way to introduce folks to the system and get them interested in the club.  Even if running an event or having a recruitment table isn’t feasible, try volunteering at the convention, and at the very least ask members to attend the convention and support the local community.

Attend other groups’ events.

Don’t go to another game group’s event specifically to poach players, but rather to share. Do go to another group’s game to have a good time, make some new friends, and invite them to come join our game. Take the approach of, “hey, if you like this game, you might also like our game. You should come join us some night.” Remember to be an ambassador of your group, not a conqueror.

 

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I recommend always having a good relationship with the local game stores. If the proprietor knows you, and knows about the club, they’re likely to also talk with other groups or individuals about the club. Additionally, if they think it can direct more business their way they may also be willing to give the group game space, or discounts on products. Not only are folks here more likely to be interested in the type of events we host, they’re also good for other non-cam activities that members of the chapter or domain may also be interested in (board games, cards games, etc.)

 

Volunteer locally

This again is a great way to meet people face-to-face and not only meet new people and develop personal friendships with, but also a chance to talk about your hobby and the organization. Word of mouth is the greatest way to get folks interested, and the more people you can spread word about the club, especially in a positive setting, the more people are likely to be interested in the game.

If you wear matching tee-shirts with MES printed on them, other people may be inclined to ask questions as well.