Anyone who knows me knows that I’m an obssessive gamer.
I spend most of my leisure time playing the world’s most popular computer game, League of Legends. League of Legends is a multiplayer online game in which you control a champion and work as a team of 5 to defeat an opposing team of 5 other players.
I guess I’m inspired by the competition, the risk/reward, the frustration in defeat and pride in victory.
These aspects of the game fuel my competitive nature and satisfy my obsessive personality when I’m not focusing on my profession or working out.
It only makes sense that I combine League and Marketing to hopefully give you a better stand of each/either of those fields. In this piece we’ll compare the five essential roles of League of Legends (LoL) to five of the most important marketing functions marketing professionals manage and implement.
Before We Start
To make this analogy complete, I should establish a few things to keep everything consistent. In LoL, the underlying element to the game is damage. Dealing damage to the other team’s champions and base, mitigating enemy damage, avoiding enemy damage, reversing enemy damage; it’s all about tons of damage.
In marketing, the key performance indicator rules our profession. There are several KPI’s by which we gauge success, but all of them deal with growth. It’s a little more abstract than the concept of damage, but growth/improvement towards our marketing goals is the underlying element to ‘the game.’
Let’s think of damage in LoL as progress/growth towards your marketing goals. In this context, the enemy team in LoL will represent noise/competition/objections that marketers face. Basically, our own ‘enemies.’ Now that we’ve established the parameters of our experiment, let’s take a look at the team!
The Marketing Team Composition
ADC (Attack Damage Carry)- Content/Inbound Marketing
First up, the ADC (Attack Damage Carry). This master of mechanics has the job of providing sustained damage in team fights, pushing down any of the three lanes that can be pushed closer to the enemy base, and killing enemy champions and minions to win those team fights and get exponentially stronger. The ADC starts in the bot lane and partners with the Support role (which will be discussed next!). The synergy that exists between the ADC and Support is essential to the success and progress towards the goal of victory.
In marketing, this role is filled by content/inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is the sustained creation and curation of relevant content for the purpose of attracting new customers. I’ll give you a little clue, as the Support in this situation is needed for content to even exist and succeed. The relationship between the two is vitally important to inbound marketing success. Like the ADC, a sustained rate of content creation/curation builds on past successes to drive more traffic, create more leads, and convert more customers. It is the most important component of a growth-oriented company and does the most ‘damage’ in cutting through noise, differentiating your organization from the competition, and overcoming customer objections.
Favorite Content Marketing Experts:
Favorite ADC Champions:
The Support is the foundation for which a successful team stands on. Responsible for protecting the ADC, initiation of fights, giving his/her team vision of the enemy, and taking damage for the carry (tanking), the Support is arguably the most important role in League of Legends. The Support is additionally something of an overlooked role, constantly left as the last pick as the unsung hero of game’s success.
The website and its SEO (Search engine optimization) most resembles the support. Not necessarily the first component addressed in a new marketing campaign, the website is nonetheless the backbone of a successful marketing campaign nowadays. Throughout the game, they facilitate the experience and support other channels. They have the info/abilities to get a customer to buy/contact them, which is the same as initiating the fight or peeling for your ADC.
Without a website, your content can’t be found, your advertising doesn’t have a resource for customers to get more information, and your social media and direct marketing have no place to find additional information and buy your products/services. A great website that’s easy to find on search engines like Google, well designed, and optimized will help you towards achieving your desired growth and success.
Favorite Support Champions:
Top Laner- Advertising
The Top Laner is a champion that occupies the uppermost lane in the three lane map of LoL. The role the generally serve in the team composition is as a heavy lifter. They are typically described as tanky-bruisers, meaning that they are hard to kill due to their massive amounts of protection, but also put out a balanced amount of damage that lets them take down enemies quickly. The Top Laner’s job in team fights is to take a lot of damage so that the two carry roles (Mid and ADC) survive to deal as much damage as possible, while also diving onto the enemy carry champions and try to kill them.
It is. They face the most opposition, are generally isolated from the rest of the team, and do the heavy work for the team fight.
The Top Laner reminds me most of advertising. Advertisements usually face the most objection, like Top Laners take the most damage. Advertisements are also tasked with sending a direct message to an audience with the purpose of increasing your reach. Ads are generally hard to measure success, yet it is usually the face of a marketing communications campaign, and vitally important toward your marketing success. Sounds a lot like taking the brunt of the damage in order to get to your target audience (a la diving the Mids/ADCs).
Favorite Top Lane Champions:
Mid Laner (AP Carry)- Direct Marketing
Then there’s the Mid Lane, or AP Carry. This champion usually goes to the middle of the three lanes to duke it out with the other AP Carry before the team fights begin. The AP Carry typically deals burst damage, meaning tons of damage in a short span of time. In other words, they give the most output and results for the team. They deal the most damage, and their success is essential to your team’s success.
In team fights, the other team seeks to end the other AP Carry’s reign of terror as fast as they can while simultaneously protecting their own AP Carry.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, there’s a lot of things going on at once in a League game. And if you’re a league player reading this, there’s a lot of things going on at once in a marketing campaign.
So, what mystery marketing function is the equivalent to the esoteric AP Carry?
This function has an amazing 4300% ROI, does the important marketing work of building one-to-one relationships, and converts leads into sales.
What I’m talking about of course, is direct marketing.
Direct marketing is marketing that is delivered to an audience individually, and serves to build relationships and convert leads into customers. The 4300% ROI figure comes from email marketing, which is a form of direct marketing. Newsletters, promotions, surveys, and various other types of content emailed directly to an audience helps to build a genuine relationship with an individual and influences their decisions to buy.
Direct marketing also has the most adversity to overcome in the form of cutting through noise. Marketers know how effective email is, so many companies use email to market their brands. Cutting through the noise is essential in succeeding in your endeavors.
Direct marketing gives the most output in order to achieve the most results in terms of progress and growth in your marketing campaigns.
Favorite Direct Marketing Campaigns:
Favorite Mid Lane Champions:
Jungler- Social Media
Finally, the fifth role is the Jungle. If this is your first interface with League, the map on which people play is comprised of three lanes, and a ‘jungle’ where a player kills neutral monsters to level up and gain gold. The Jungler has the additionally duty of ganking for the three lanes. Ganking is coming into a lane largely unseen in order to give the laner a numbers advantage, aiming to kill the enemy champion before they can retreat to the safety of their nearest defensive tower. A successful gank puts your ally at a significant advantage, which should snowball into long-term success.
Successful management between farming these neutral monsters and ganking lanes that need help/are in an optimal position to be successfully ganked is the hallmark of a highly skilled jungler.
In marketing, this function of amplifying the other channels/lanes is filled by social media. In reality, it’s purely distribution, but social media is the unanimous vehicle for which content is shared with others at this time. Magazines, books, and newspapers have all had their distribution systems moved in line, and only those with a passion for the printed word buy their physical manifestations.
Social media amplifies all other channels in marketing by delivering optimized updates/links/pictures/content to users of relevant social platforms. In terms of League, you can think of social media as giving the other lanes more damage/kills to help them attain their goals (of eventual victory) quicker.
Social media increases the audience reach of your content/websites, getting them in front of more eyeballs to convert more visitors into leads. Social media can be attached to advertisements (as it often is nowadays) in order to create viral campaigns and exponential reach. Social media can be linked on HTML emails, allowing users to engage on social and talk about the awesome content you’re giving them with your email campaign.
Successful social media management accelerates victory growth for the various channels of your marketing campaign.
Favorite Social Accounts:
All marketing functions have a role to play. To succeed, successful communication between all roles must exist to form a cohesive message that aligns with your brand. In League, team communication breaking down means plays called at the wrong time, dying to unseen threats (no mia wtf), and a lack of cooperation further down the road in the campaign.
If there’s one thing to take away from this, it’s that there’s a lot of things going on at once for both League of Legends games and marketing campaigns, and it’s truly amazing that people (Pro players and industry-leading marketers) can manage everything going on at such a high level.