Its become kind of an unfortunate running joke that its hard to find larps, usually the folks who start larps have more of a “club” mindset going in; they just want to play in the woods with their friends. There’s nothing wrong with this mindset, but it does put some major constraints on the size and production value of the larp.
For larps that are interested in growth, even as a non-profit, they need to advertise their game. It doesn’t matter how awesome your game is, if no one knows about it they won’t show up.
I’ve organized these in roughly a “least to most expensive” format. Not all games need advertising, but if you’re running a for-profit game or a game that wants to grow, you should look into taking all of these steps.
1. Social media
Love it or hate it, Facebook is great for larp. It’s an easy way to connect directly with players and it’s a service that many use already. Managing your social media accounts for your larp needs to be taken seriously and you need to post regularly and often so that players and potential players will engage with your posts.
You need to have at a minimum a public Facebook page. Closed groups are fine for current players as they offer advantages of their own, but closed groups should not be a potential player’s primary source for information on Facebook. You can link your community (group) to your public page and assign admins/moderators from your player-base or staff.
Public pages are where you post your events, advertisements, and communicate with the public. It also should have a clear link to your website
You can also run boosted posts for $1 per day through Facebook. It’s a great way to help your posts jump to the top of your audience’s timeline. You can target ads by interest, page likes, and friends of friends. You can also have these run on Instagram at the same time.
I can’t tell you how many great games have bad websites. Generally they were made several years ago for free by a player or staff member and they often get out of date or broken by automatic updates.
Wix is a great resource for simple websites for larps. You can make it for free if you keep the Wixsites name in your domain, or you can pay and link your domain to your Wix site.
Your website should be designed for new players, have all of the important information on the home page. Rules, character creation, safety, etc can all be handled on other pages. More complicated parts of the game should also be separated from the new player stuff. You need to show where and when you game is and make that information easy to find.
You can also have PayPal buttons on your website with the free version of Wix. These can be can be used to sell tickets. If you want to sell anything more complicated than tickets, another service might be better like Squarespace.
3. Take good photos!
Hire someone or get volunteer to take some great photos of your larp. Stay away from stock images or pictures that are not related to your game. Also be careful to not misrepresent your game by only taking photos of that one person in full Armstreet armor.
Be sure to take photos of lots of different types of people to accurately represent your game. It’s important to have men and women both in pictures. I’ve been told many times by my female friends that they are more likely to try out a game if there are pictures of women playing the game.
Videos of your larp tend to look better when there isn’t sound other than background music. As we all know from the infamous “lightning bolt” video, larp calls out of context tend to look silly, even if in the game they make sense and are completely normal.
4. Affiliate marketing
Once you have a website, a social media page, and some great photos its time to get serious about marketing. One of the easiest way to sell tickets to your game is through affiliate marketing. Some affiliate marketing software can be really expensive but there is a simple work around. You’ll need to have a website that allows coupons and allows you to track uses of those coupons. Reach out to larp pages with large followings (*cough cough* like LARP Box) aka “influencers” (I hate this word) and set up a coupon code for them to use. Whenever a player buys a ticket with that coupon code you give the page owner a small percentage of the sale (usually 3-5%).
Affiliates are a great way of paying for advertising that only costs you when it works. It’s also fairly easy for influencers to post the advertisements with minimal time and effort on their part.
DISCLAIMER: Its important that the people you choose to represent you as affiliates reflect well on you and your game. Don’t let people represent your game if they are unprofessional, or display discriminatory/prejudiced behavior. A bad representative is worse than none at all.
Related to affiliate marking, you can hire folks with a large social media presence to directly advertise for your larp. I say hire, because you should first and foremost be paying them for their work. If you want them to attend your game as part of the marketing plan, you need to pay them for their time and travel. For YouTubers, the money they get from ad revenue on their YouTube pages is not nearly enough to offset the costs of making videos and traveling to games, so you need to make it worth their time and effort.
Some folks are happy to work in exchange for a free ticket, but this should not be your first offer. If they are willing to advertise in exchange for a free ticket, you should let them be the one to ask for it or at least offer to pay for their travel. If they have a production crew of any kind (a helper, camera person, aid, etc) you also need to include them in your offer.
Some influencers we recommend are:
-Nuclear Snail Studios
-And LARP Box of course 😉
Disclaimer: Just like affiliate marketing, choose your representatives wisely. Social media following is not the only factor to consider. If someone has a poor reputation in the community you’re targeting they can do real damage to your brand and you should steer clear of them. If I was more ruthlessly capitalistic maybe I would care less about this but I’ve said no to several influencers with huge followings because I didn’t want have myself or LARP Box associated with them. Also not supporting bad people is a nice rule to live by. Again: bad representatives are worse than none at all.
6. Attend conventions
There are a few larp conventions around the country as well as many “nerd cons” that are great places to meet potential players. Bring some simple printed material, some attractive props, and some photos. Network with other creators and players. Meeting the right person who is a professional in the field can really give you an edge in making your game stand out.
These are some I can personally recommend, but there are more you can find online:
-New England LARP Expo
Conventions I have here as the most expensive because they often require a hotel stay, travel, food and of course a table. They can also be risky for this reason.
I hope these are helpful! The more we can publicize larp, the more mainstream it will be. There are a lot of awesome and talented people out there that are just a step away from larping, they just need to know how fun it can be! If you’re interested in seeing a sample of our affiliate contract to use for your own game let us know at [email protected]