My Advice for Wizards of the Coast
I think you have accepted that you have made some mistakes. So I am not going to rake you over the coals. I'm not going to make demands of you that are in my self-interest or that seek to bolster some position I have. I am not going to pretend to help you, but really not care about your situation. I am going to take you at your word and give you my honest opinion.
You want to unite the clans. UNITE THEM! I can appreciate that. I can get behind that. So this advice that I give you is truly from the heart. You are an old friend that has, in my view, lost their way. I want to help you. You seem open to it. So here it is...
Live the D&D life
I don't mean that flippantly. Live the D&D life. Stop marketing. Stop pushing your product on people, start caring about people, and they will buy your product without the push. Care about D&D. Advocate for D&D. Be everywhere, talking about D&D. Know the community, know the people. Feel their pain, know their problems, give them help, and care.
I know you might think you are doing that now. You aren't. You are trapped in the past. The future is digital and it is passing you by.
Your website is poorly designed and hard to navigate. I don't want to spend time there. I'm looking at it today, you know what I don't see? A headline that tells me 5th edition is announced. Just a link to SIGN UP and be a part of gamer history. You know what my first thought is reading that? "Sign Up" is a code word for: Let me market to you . Sign up for my newsletter. It doesn't scream out that you are making a new edition. It doesn't make me care and it doesn't make me click. Your "D&D next" group page is bland and boring. I could go on, but I have no desire to ridicule you about your web design.
You have a twitter feed and a Facebook page. Both are boring. It looks like you are trying to sell me something.
You are talking in marketing speak. You need to stop. Now.
Let me give you some hard advice on how to do that, not just impressions and vague directives.
Hire someone to really take charge of your community operations and lead it in a new direction. If you have someone in charge of community outreach, I don't know them. And I know a lot of people in the online RPG community and I consider myself fairly well informed. I tried to find out who was in charge of this on your website. There are a few possibles, but I couldn't actually tell. Trevor Kid? Maybe. Mostly because the content was so old. Announcements from June of 2011 or earlier. I should know this person. They should be commenting and posting everywhere. All the time. Ubiquitous.
So if you do have someone doing this, move them aside and get someone who knows what they are doing. They need to be producing new and exciting content every damn day. The last video posted on your YouTube account was in October. That's three months ago. In Internet time, that is the last ice age. You need new videos going up every week. Every day would be the long term goal. You need to be producing so much content that people have a hard time keeping up.
And it needs to be good content. Not some lame droning video (no offense to Rodney Thompson, he may be a great manager but he is a poor salesman). It needs to be high quality stuff I want to share with my friends. I need to sense passion and excitement. That doesn't require fancy graphics and sound. There are people making passionate RPG posts every day without your resources. This isn't about resources, this is about caring. I need to care. And in order for me to care, you need to be living that D&D life.
See there are TONS of people out there that have played D&D. But many of them are ashamed to admit it. You need to make it cool to play D&D. This isn't the 1980s. No need to hide under rocks anymore. Be loud and be proud. Eventually, you need a whole team of people out there talking about D&D on a constant basis. Right now, you've got near zero capacity. Start small. Hire one person to live the D&D life and talk about it CONSTANTLY. Then build from there.
There is a ravenous hunger for RPG content out there. More than you can possibly imagine. And you are letting people starve. Right now, they have to come to you. They have to follow you on Twitter or go to your Facebook page (both of which, I reiterate, are boring locations). They have to navigate your boring website. People have to find you. They have to want you.
That has to end. You cannot be passive anymore. You have to reach out. You need to find people on your own. You need someone who reports to Mike Mearls every Friday and describes what happened in the RPG community that week. Describes what is supposed to go down that weekend. Who was talked about, why, what was said, and where. Engage people. Show up on THEIR Facebook wall or Twitter feed or Google+ threads or on their blogs. Make comments. Talk! TALK! TALK!
Because all I hear is a fart in the wind.
D&D is a social game. You must embrace that. You must be social!
Why is the biggest forum destination to talk about RPGs rpg.net ? Why are the most popular people talking about RPGs not Wizards employees? Why are the most popular blogs about RPGs not hosted on your domain? Why are the sites aggregating RPG content not yours?
Because you dropped the ball and you let someone else carry it.
That has to end. Take charge of your destiny.
You need to be producing an avalanche of high quality RPG content. You need people talking about D&D with a passion. You need things to distribute to social media that will actually get shared, read, and excite people about your product. You need to reach out and grab people by the shoulders and say "I AM D&D! HEAR ME ROAR! I LOVE IT! JOIN ME!"
You need to live the life. You need to care so much it hurts.
Get busy living. Or get busy dying.
Much love, brother. Peace.
(Editor's note : you may join the conversation already going on Google+, here)