Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne reviews a Wizards of the Coast primer on promotion.

[We apologize for this column appearing on Monday night instead of Sunday.  It was entirely our fault and not Mr. Thorne's, who's reliably punctual. -ICv2]

Just received an interesting little booklet from Wizards of the Coast titled "Guide to Dungeons & Dragons In Your Store."  From the title, I thought it was another catalog of available products and upcoming releases for the D&D game, then the subtitle at the bottom clued me into the actual purpose of the book: "Building Your Gaming Community—With D&D Organized Play."  Turns out, it's not a bad little primer on promotion, both for D&D Organized Play and for your store in general.

The first few pages briefly (and I do mean briefly) cover the D&D Encounters and upcoming D&D Lair Assault programs, with a bit more emphasis on the Lair Assault program, since Wizards of the Coast plans to roll it out sometime this fall.  It then moves into "Using Free Media:  P.R. without the Bluff Checks," with three good recommendations for anyone wanting to use publicity.  First, get a listing on your local community calendar or local community websites.  One good idea mentioned: ask customers where they get their information about events and then post your information there.  Also suggested, create an email list and contact the editor of your local papers to inform them about special events or other newsworthy things happening related to your store, such as the anniversary of your opening or a customer (make sure to get their permission, of course) with a special story).  There's even a list of tips on how to give a good interview.

Next, the booklet moves into traditional media, discussing types of newspapers, their advantages and disadvantages.  Radio is ignored and broadcast television given shortshift in favor of cable television with several suggestions regarding ways to target ads on cable as well as a brief primer on television advertising jargon, such as daypart (the time of day you want to run the ad) and CPP/CPM (cost per thousand impressions).  WotC gives a short nod to movie theaters with a suggestion that the cheapest method to get into them is by putting an ad in the pre-show slide program.

Using schools and libraries to find new customers is also covered with recommendations including setting up scholarships, offering student discounts, sponsoring school activities and game clubs or contacting libraries to see about scheduling D&D games that fit into the library's activity schedule.

A number of sales promotions are recommended as well, including:  warm-up sessions for D&D Encounters for new players; D&D games targeted at new players; "Bring a Friend" in which a current customer brings a new player and gets a premium for doing so; host a customer party (we do this at Halloween and on the store’s anniversary); or rent a bus or van to take players to a gaming even (Gnome Games does this for every Gen Con).

Finally, we get to social media, which includes the Wizard's Play Network, and D&D Insider before moving on to what most people consider social media: Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, etc.  Register your store on the social media sites your customers frequent (Don't know?  Ask 'em.)  Update your sites frequently, four to five times a day for Facebook and up to 20 for Twitter, and don’t just post events and promotions.  Put up news, links to offbeat videos or sites in which your customers would have an interest.  Make sure your customers know you have a social media presence, whether you post a QR code in the store, put it in your other ads or business cards, or note it on store receipts.

As I said at the beginning, for something supposedly focused on promoting Dungeons & Dragons in your store, this is a nicely written primer on publicity and well worth the ten minutes or so to read if WotC happened to send you a copy.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely  those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect th views of the editorial staff of