3 Marketing Lessons Learned from Civilization

My favorite kinds of games are the kinds that are different every time you play. I have enjoyed playing simulation games since I was a nerdy junior high kid. The first game I ever got into was the Sid Meier series Civilization. My dad taught me how to play and since, I’ve been a dominant force in my simulation world. (Seriously, don’t cross me, I will destroy you.)

When these games rolled out in iPad versions, I spent about a solid month doing nothing but playing game after game. I took different strategies and started as different leaders. Each game turned out differently. I realized there’s a lot to learn from simulation game because you have to plan, develop a strategy, and then launch against your competition. Here are three takeaways about marketing that I learned from a marathon of Civilization.

Plan in Advance

In order to achieve success and win your game, you have to start out with a plan in mind. This may change depending on what you come across as you go along (maybe your citizens keep revolting, or you weren’t able to expand as large as you wanted) but you do need to have a direction. Your success will depend on the resources you can identify and exploit to your advantage.

Take a look at all of your assets and decide where you can get the most out of your team. Maybe you have an incredibly talented web development team who could create buzz by simply redesigning a website. Maybe your strength is in content development, so you choose to roll out a teaser campaign. Either way, your first step is to identify what resources you have and how you want to win.

Know Your Competition

Since this particular game generates a random starting location for you, it’s important to seek out your potential friends and foes. You need to know who you can form alliances with, who you can trust, and who you can’t. It’s not as cutthroat in the “real” world a lot of times, but knowing who you’re going up against helps you to determine a plan of action.

Before starting a campaign, research the leaders in your field. What are they doing? Find out what has worked for them and what hasn’t. These can be keys to determining your best plan of action. In game, you think about who is going to be a military powerhouse and who might have a series of scientific advances that put them ahead of the game. Anticipating these things, knowing the competition, you know how to plan a strategy and how to respond to what the competition does.

Give it Time to Grow

When you start a game of Civilization, you are weak. You have one military unit and you can start one city. From there, you just start to put the pieces together and build. The very beginning of a game is not the time to start a huge undertaking of military strength while trying to take over the world.

Starting a new campaign will not yield magic “take-over-the-world” results right away. You have to put the pieces in place and then let it grow slowly. If you do the work, at some point, the tide will turn and your competition will see you as the benchmark to set their campaigns to. If you haven’t rushed yourself, by this time, there may be no way to catch up with you.

Bonus Tip: Never trust the Zulus. Seriously, they will break every single alliance they get their hands on, just for fun.