What can digital marketers learn from the latest Marvel Avengers movie, Infinity War? OK, obviously, I wrote that to get your attention and to get you to read this article (it worked) but stay with me and you’ll see what I mean.
Warning, Spoilers ahead. If you have not seen the movie, Avengers: Infinity War, stop reading now.
If you don’t know, the Avengers are a group of superheroes protecting Earth from people or aliens bent on taking over the world or the universe. In Infinity War, Thanos, a Titan warlord, is on a quest to collect 6 stones, called Infinity Stones, and once he has all six stones in his possession, he can literally control space and time. In this movie (spoiler alert) he does collect all 6 stones. Throughout the movie he takes no mercy on the Avengers, destroying them and killing plenty to reach his goal. At the end of the movie, many of the Avengers are dead and viewers are left wondering will Earth and the Avengers be saved. In order to find that out, fans will have to wait a year as the next Avengers movie is slated for a May 2019 release.
Ok, now you have the back story. But what does that have to do with digital marketing?
The Avengers movie franchise, as well as other Marvel super hero movies, are products and a brand. People are invested in the Avengers’ brand. They care what happens to the characters. They are even willing to wait a year to see what happens to them. And between those months of waiting, fans will discuss, blog, tweet about what they think will happen or should happen in the upcoming movie(s). That’s loyalty. Now think about your product. Do people care about your brand? Do they care about your products? Are they so invested in your product that they will talk about it or share it with their friends?
A good example of this are phones. People are vested in their phones and brands such as Apple, Google, and Samsung. Users of these products stay informed regarding the news of these brands, they read or participate in blogs about their favorite device, they comment on social media about their love affair with their phones and sometimes they even have heated arguments over which brand may be better.
Storytelling – So how do you get people to have a connection with your product? One way is through storytelling. No, you don’t have to make a 2-hour movie but your brand or product does have a story. How does the product help users better their lives? How does it help make their lives easier? This narrative becomes the story for your product. This is the story you can share with others, online, in blogs, on reviews sites and in ads.
Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow reminds us of the template of the Hero’s Journey in their book, The Storytelling Edge. This is a story technique you probably learned in middle or high school and that many books use this technique to tell stories. The authors demonstrate in the book that we can use the Hero’s Journey template to tell our stories.
The key to telling your story is to make sure you have identified your product’s real story. What if you sold aftermarket backup cameras for vehicles? While you may think the product is the story, put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. When marketing such a product, showcase what the camera will do for the buyer. It can protect their vehicle, it may help to reduce insurance premiums, but more importantly, it can possibly save a life, even one of their family members. This is the story, not the product, but what the product can do for the buyer.
Newsletters – You want to continue engagement with newsletters. Newsletters can serve two purposes. One, they can give your customers additional information about your products & services. Secondly, they can help customers in your ecosystem. The old adage, it’s easier to sell to current customers than new ones, is true. Think about how many times you have purchased items from Amazon or Groupon when they sent you a targeted newsletter because you previously purchased an item from them. You can follow the same strategy with your customers and newsletter lists. Just make sure you segment your list by your customer’s needs and buying habits so you can give them what they want.
Social Media – Remember your product’s story and continue to add to it and share it. You can also help your customers to become part of sharing the story. Make it easy by giving them buttons to share their story regarding your product on their social feeds. Ask them to leave a review on sites such as your Google My Business page or Yelp. In regards to the Avengers’ movie, social media is filled with posts regarding how the movie ended. Again, people want to discuss their characters, what happened, will they be resurrected, etc. Your social media footprint doesn’t need millions of posts like the Avengers but you do want to encourage your audience, current and potential customers, to discuss your products and to recommend them.
Market related products – The Avengers movies showcase a collection of super heroes in one movie. But between the release of the Avengers movies Marvel releases a movie or two about one hero in the franchise, such as Iron Man or Thor or Black Panther. In a sense, these individual movies are related products that feed into the larger ecosystem which are the Avengers movies and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Now think about your business and the products you are marketing. What related products can you market that are part of your business? If you are marketing a medical office, such as a dental office, can you market related services such as teeth whitening or dental implants? You can also market convenience related to the service such as “Open on Saturday” or “Crowns Made While You Wait”. You may also have the opportunity to cross promote related products with other groups or organizations. This strategy can possibly open you to new marketing opportunities.
Marvel fans will wait for the next movie and Marvel and its parent company, Disney, will make a gazillion dollars from the movie and related products. You can follow some of the same strategies as Marvel and hopefully your growth chart will be in the black too.