10 Marketing Lessons From Hollywood

Boy meets girl, love at first sight, problems arise, seem insuperable, love triumphs. Fin. The end.

Sounds familiar? How about this?

Average Joe, challenge presented, rising up to it, gets broken, impossible situation, gets help, triumphs. The end.

Broken down, those are the plots of a huge amount of Hollywood movies.

You probably already knew that. But have you thought about how Hollywood can help your marketing?

Here are 10 ways:


1. If it works, repack and rerelease

There’s a reason why so many of the Hollywood movies have similar plots – because they work!

Granted, in most cases the packing is somewhat different, but the themes, and indeed the way the movies are built up, is very similar.

What that means is that there’s no need to invent the wheel all over again. If what you’re doing works, keep doing it. By all means, innovate and improve, but don’t change the principles of something that works.

To illustrate: If your primary business is selling ball point pens, you could change the look and feel of them, you could introduce new brands and models, you could add pencils and markers to your product portfolio, but you would not want to remove the pens. You could still make money, but not as easily as if you kept offering what people had demonstrated to want.

If you don’t yet have a product that sells well, find out what works for your competitors, let yourself be inspired, and integrate it into your own strategy. But remember: be inspired. Don’t flat out copy (at least not anything copyrighted).


2. Hype it up!

Have you noticed that whenever a new blockbuster movie is released, you can’t seem to escape the advertisements for it anywhere? The trailers are on TV and before movies in the movie theatres and all over the web, the posters are on every billboard and bus stop around the world, a whole new line-up of movie-related gimmick products are offered all around, websites, competitions, facebook pages, etc etc etc.

What’s the point?

It’s all marketing. It’s there to create attention and awareness. And marketing is a numbers game. The more people that know about the movie, the more are likely to see it and spend money on it.

For a small business the tactics used in a marketing campaign for a major blockbuster can seem extreme. Most small businesses neither have the required cash for tactics such as the aforementioned, nor do they have the capacity needed to handle the amount of clients a large-scale marketing campaign could potentially bring in.

What to take away?

Get the word out there. Make people aware of your existence. At the very least you should have a website with your company information. If you have the time to maintain it, start a blog, as well as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter-accounts. (If you don’t have the time to maintain them, make them anyway to reserve your brand name. You might want to use them later on.) And the best marketing there is: Provide such an exceptional service that people recommend you to their friends.


3. Who you know matters

The people you know can make or break you. It’s almost as true in business as it is in Hollywood.

In Hollywood knowing the right people is often a requisite for landing a decently paid job – or any job at all.

In business it’s not necessarily as dramatic, but knowing people with big contact networks can give you a flying start to your endeavour – especially if you base your business on the Internet, where people with large contact networks on social media such as Twitter, Facebook etc., can make a huge impact on how many people will be aware of your company. A quality link from a popular blog, or a tweet from the right person, can bring thousands of people to your site in a very short time span.


4. Polish it

Hollywood’s movie producers spend an incredible amount of time, energy and resources on polishing their movies by adding special effects, adding sounds, cutting and changing the final outcome.

They do what they can to make the final product as appealing to the movie-goers as humanly possible.

The better the final outcome, the better the ratings, and the more people will spend their hard earned cash on seeing it.

The same is true in business. Do what you can to make what you offer as good as possible. The better the final product is, the more word will spread. But be warned: The opposite is also the case.


5. Provide value

People go to the movies to be entertained. To escape from reality for a couple of hours.

Some movies make you feel good, some make you thoughtful, some make you sad. The worst are the ones that make you feel like you just threw time and money out of the window. You know, the movies that make you say “Ok… Maybe we should have gone to the other one” when the credits are rolling.

A business, as a movie, should always offer something. It should provide value to your customers. The moment it stops doing that is the moment the customers start looking for something better.


6. Celebrities sell

There’s something that is always shown on every movie poster (Ok, there are a couple of exceptions), something that attracts a huge amount of attention and gives an automatic emotional approval of the movie.

What is it?

The names of the actors and/or director. There’s an abundance of phrases like “from the director of…”, “by the studio that made…”, and my personal favorite: “starring Academy Award Nominee…” (Completely irrelevant unless the actor was actually nominated for their participation in THAT particular movie. A good actor with a bad script and bad direction still makes for a bad movie.)

What do these statements do?

They attach the movie to someone involved in it; someone that is known and has a certain degree of influence with the target audience, thus breaking down resistance barriers.

The same is true in business. Celebrities are used to promote everything from coffee to make-up. Doctors figure in advertisements for medicines. Industry leaders are used to back claims of quality.

Hiring a world-famous celebrity is, for most of us, virtually impossible. At least when first starting out. However, there are other things you could do, one of them being seeking out influential people in your industry and offer them a small percentage of the earnings to endorse your product. If that doesn’t appeal, how about giving out some samples of your products or services to select clients, friends and family in exchange for them to tell their friends about you. That’s by the way where Facebook and other social networks come in handy. More on that later.

Remember that a celebrity is someone that is known and that inspires a sense of trust in whatever is promoted. At least the kind of celebrity you would want to use. A world-famous celebrity isn’t necessary in most cases, but rather a local celebrity – someone that is known and trusted in your world.


7. Build a personal brand

A-list actors have extremely strong personal brands, and can in many cases sell movies and products by themselves (see last point). The same is true for local celebrities.

Now what if you could be a local celebrity yourself? It would give you an advantage not only with your current business, but also with other potential businesses or projects you may start.
How to do it?

Think about Hollywood again. The actors, studios and directors do what they can to deliver the best performance possible. They then do various marketing stunts to create publicity for the movie (and their own names!).

That’s the essence of it – to get both your and your business’ name out there.

Some ways of doing that include using your own name on Twitter instead of your company’s, creating a blog where you focus on providing useful information, be active in forums and on other blogs etc. You could also do press releases and ask for interviews in local papers or journals fex. There are many ways, these are only some.


8. There’s an aspect of time involved

Writing, planning, casting, filming, post-producing, marketing, distributing… These are some of the steps included in making a movie.

This is not done in a day.

Avatar took 15 years from the first script was written until the movie was shown in theaters!

Although this is somewhat extreme, making a movie does take time. How long depends on the complexity.

It’s the same for businesses. Getting a business rolling takes time. And the more complex, the more time it takes.

What that means is not that starting is useless, but rather that planning for some time to pass before the endeavor starts to yield benefits is a good tactic. How much time depends on your niche, your strategy and your commitment.


9. Be cynical – drop the emotions

Something Hollywood is notorious for is pumping out sequels to movies that hit home run (how many Fast & Furious movies are there now?), while scrapping others that under-perform. Regardless of ratings they may have achieved.
You shouldn’t be afraid of doing the same. If you have a product that people keep on buying, it would in most cases be foolish to remove it from your product portfolio. At the same time, keeping products that no one ever buys no matter what you do, only leads to you wasting valuable space – either physical or virtual. Get something in there that converts to cash.


10. It’s all about the bottom line

In Hollywood nothing else matters. It’s all about the money. At least for the big studios. Indie movies are different, where it’s more about the art of film-making. (Or about getting your name and personal brand noticed.)

In the end that’s what any business is about, to make money. It may sound cold, but it’s fact. You need money to pay your bills. You get money from investing time and energy into your business, so wanting to maximize the rewards for the time and energy spent is only natural.

However, the positive part is that people like indie movies as well. They may not have the broad appeal of a major blockbuster, but the fans of indie movies are often extremely loyal – something that makes them follow the actor/director closely.

Being in a niche business is like being in an indie movie. You will not reach the broad masses with your products or services and become the next Donald Trump, but you will have loyal clients that keep coming back. And the best part? You get to do something that you like.

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