Designing a Better Flyer for Starfest: Fold Your Own Adventure

Let’s be honest: Flyers in convention bags are ignorable. When I got the opportunity to include 1000-2000 flyers in the bags of convention goers at the 2017 StarFest convention in Denver, I knew I had to do something different, else I’d be throwing away $200 worth of printing and paper. I decided to set out some guidelines:

  • Flyer must provide entertainment for the reader.
  • Flyer should not require any additional tools not easily accessible (e.g. writing utensil is okay, dice are not).
  • Flyer should be rated PG and be fun regardless of attendee’s pop culture knowledge.
  • Flyer should encourage real-world sharing and interacting with other attendees.

Notice a key focus: Entertain first, advertise second. I’m a big fan of reciprocity in marketing, because it creates a stronger connection between a brand and a consumer, which in turn improves word-of-mouth advertising. I reached out to a local group of con-goers and game masters to get some ideas:

  • Trading cards
  • One-page RPG (e.g.Honey Heist)
  • Choose Your Own Adventure™ variant
  • QR code scavenger hunt
  • Origami, specifically nostalgia driven
  • Word search or maze

I loved quite a few of these ideas and decided to try and combine two of them: Origami and CYOA. This involved a multitude of steps including: graph paper folding, inking, and scanning; digitally re-inking and fixing lines; generating reference images for folding, placing text, labeling lines, and writing text; mapping the flowchart of possible choices; and finally writing three distinct stories.

It took a week’s worth of work to complete everything but the stories, and then it was stories, play testing, edits, changes, and story completion. Honestly, it became a much bigger project than I originally intended, but as I’m writing this (2 days before the event) I am hopeful that all of the effort will be worth it. The entire project would drive readers to through on-page branding, where they can enter their email address (Call-to-Action) and be able to download all three stories, just in case they couldn’t find someone at the convention. Finally, a hashtag #FoldAdventure was added to the page that has never been used before on Twitter, so attendees could use social media effectively to find others that have a different story (each story is on a different color paper to make this easy).

I’m super thankful to all the play testers who took a good idea and made it great by letting me watch how they interacted with the adventures. If they struggled, I made a change. There are 1500 flyers going out at StarFest, and I would estimate less than 15 people (1%) would normally visit the website for a basic flyer, so we’ll see what happens. Till then, there is a special Fold Your Own Adventure page on HeroMuster for non-convention attendees to find and try.

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