You Don’t Need to Be the Man of Steel to Orchestrate Superhero Marketing

When I ran agencies, I had the opportunity to work with business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) brands. There has always been great debate that the way you approach and orchestrate a marketing campaign is largely dependent on whether it is a B2B or B2C business.

I strongly disagree.

Marketing a brand, product or service follows the same general principles, whether it is a consumer or business audience. To me, it’s not B2B or B2C. It boils down to a B2P proposition- business-to-people.

As an example, let me break down the marketing orchestration of a blockbuster Hollywood movie to demonstrate that any brand, product or service should be incorporating the same strategic elements in their marketing campaigns.

Superhero Marketing Defined

Credit: Warner Brothers

Even if you are a casual movie-goer, it has been impossible to avoid the marketing machine behind the recently-released “Man of Steel” motion picture. It is setting box-office and attendance records in the U.S. and around the world.

But the success was not the result of an intense two- or three-week publicity blitz; the movie’s marketing was conceived and orchestrated well in advance.

Here are six ways that the “Man of Steel” can help marketers create and deliver stronger marketing campaigns:

1. Early alignment between the product and marketing teams

As soon as Zach Snyder, Christopher Nolan and David Goyer began writing the “Man of Steel” script three years ago, Warner Brothers immediately began orchestrating their marketing, sponsorship and promotional strategy.

Regardless of the industry, if marketers want to maximize their influence and position themselves as strategic advisors, they have to be involved in the early stages of the planning and strategy process.

2. A clearly identified antagonist

Courtesy: Warner Bros.

In “Man of Steel,” the character of General Zod is the film’s antagonist. Zod is a chilling threat to Superman and the people of earth. That good-versus-evil storyline certainly grabs you.

Does your marketing clearly identify the “antagonist” of your target audience? Start with the “pain points” of the business.

Is it about reducing costs, or making their processes more efficient? Are they challenged trying to increase sales or create a better customer experience?

When your audience sees that you understand the “antagonists” that challenge them, you are on your way to positioning your company as a credible “protagonist” that can alleviate their pain points.

Every customer is looking for a superhero that can solve a pressing problem for them. Will it be your company or brand?

3. It starts with a compelling story

The films that have been most enduring for me are the ones that have a great story and sharp dialogue. Like a successful film, strong marketing campaigns need sharp, compelling copy that keeps the attention of an audience.

I have read that most movies go through countless drafts and revisions. That same type of discipline and attention to detail should apply to marketing copy. That extra effort can mean the difference between average and exceptional response.

4. Don’t overlook your “fanboys”

Last year, Warner Brothers screened a special two-minute preview of “Man of Steel” for attendees of Comic Con International, the world’s biggest comic book/movie fan convention.

The 130,000+ people who attend Comic Con are not just fans of pop-culture films like “Man of Steel;” they are what the movie industry call “fanboys” or “super fans.” Catering to this passionate niche is a smart way to build buzz, excitement and support.

Who are your industry’s fan-boys and super fans? Does your marketing include a strategy for reaching, engaging and nurturing these relationships?

Every industry has key influencers; savvy marketers should cultivate their industry’s fan-boys and super fans.

5. Develop a great content marketing strategy

In the months and weeks leading up to the “Man of Steel” premiere, there was a growing pipeline of content delivered through social platforms, online and media. For instance, you could go onto YouTube or Facebook and view dozens of different pieces of content, such as the movie’s trailers, tv commercials, interviews and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

The content strategy had a cadence that culminated in building online and offline awareness as the “Man of Steel” premiere date approached.

I believe that content marketing is going to play a bigger role in every industry and every organization. Companies want to make informed buying decisions on the products, services and solutions they purchase; they rely on information to help them in the buyer’s journey. If you are not creating a pipeline of useful and valuable content to assist them, you will miss out on important opportunities to inform and influence customers and prospects.

6. Strong partnerships

If you want to extend the reach of your marketing, you cannot afford to overlook the power of partnerships. According to Advertising Age, Warner Brothers secured over 100 global partners, with brands like Wal-Mart, Nokia, Chrysler, Kellogg’s Keebler Crackers and Gillette razors, among others.

Partnerships pack a one-two marketing punch. In the case of “Man of Steel,” they generated over $160 million for Warner Brothers and enabled the movie to leverage the built-in audiences and marketing channels of each of those partners.

Marketing showmanship matters in every industry

The movie marketing formula is all about generating interest and standing out in a crowded entertainment marketplace. Those same principles apply to every brand and company.

Whether you market consumer goods, high-tech, industrial or services, every campaign should incorporate, to some degree, the same type of energy and showmanship that Hollywood movies do to break out from the clutter. After all, if you can’t get excited about your brand, product or service, how do you expect your target market to feel energized?

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