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.

Your Body Language and Confidence

A few years ago, I was hanging out with some of my younger cousins and surprised the “country girls” by wearing a snazzy pair of zebra print purple heels. They asked me how I managed to walk in those shoes and I informed them that I “walk with authority.”

It’s amazing how a clothing change or a new pair of shoes can make you feel more confident. I wrote about success on the debate team being somewhat wrapped into my power shoes, but what are some other changes you can make in how you walk and move that can boost your confidence?

Carry Yourself Well

How you hold yourself plays a role in how you see yourself. So the first place to start in making changes to your body language is to hold yourself a little higher. To appear more confident, you need to act more confident.

  • Posture is the most imperative part of carrying yourself. Put your shoulders back and keep your spine straight.
  • Hold your chin up when you walk. Looking down at the ground while walking is an indicator of unhappiness.
  • Make eye contact and smile to strangers. Not only is this a sign of confidence, but it also makes you feel better when you smile.

Movements Send A Message

Any movement you make can send a message. These messages can be positive or negative, so one of the most important body language changes you can make is to be aware of how you’re moving.

  • Putting your hands on your hips is an indication of being mad or having lost patience. Even if you feel like you’re just in a resting position, the message sent is one of disapproval.
  • Try not to make fidgeting gestures like shaking your legs or tapping your nails against the table. Not only will your nails create an annoying sound, but it indicates impatience.

Your Hands and Arms Serve as a Door

The movements made with arms in communicating tells a lot about the openness of a speaker. Those who cross their arms “close the door” to others feeling welcome to chime in or discuss.

  • You can make gestures open by holding your hands apart with your palms pointing upward.
  • Clasping or wringing your hands in front of you or touching your hair or face is a sign of anxiety or being unsure.

The good news - you can control your own body language. Remember you have complete control over the way you carry yourself which translates into the way you are perceived. How will you walk with authority today?


Looking for ways to improve your speaking abilities? Here are four more resources: