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Christmas is Coming: Marketing Lessons from Game of Thrones

AcxiomOctober 02, 2014

Warning – may contain spoilers…

Winter is Coming. And marketers need to prepare.

The summer sun is beginning to lose its heat and even though it is some months away, attention must now be turned to the Christmas period, as marketers once again battle for the biggest presents, customers and the right to rule at Christmas. And, this year, to get ahead of their competitors, implement highly targeted strategies, and offer customers personalised messages with the products/services they want in the channels they prefer, marketers could learn a few lessons about how to succeed from Game of Thrones.

1. Be Fearless

In Westeros fearlessness can get you far, and in marketing confident, bold decisions are necessary to remain ahead of the competition. Marketers should seek to innovate and stand out from the competition. This won’t be achieved by playing safe. Brands, in order to compete for attention, must cut through the clutter and bring engaging, creative and compelling content to the fore, reaching consumers in the channels and in the moment they’ll be most receptive to.

Marketers’ actions must be brave and fearless, but also considered to succeed as fearlessness only works if you’re informed. Think about Varys, the Master of Whisperers; it was his knowledge and insight that brought him power and protection in Kings Landing, made him fearless and caused others to come to him for help. He knew when to make the most of his insight – and when to change tactics to survive. The same goes for brands, they must use data and insight to inform and support these decisions.

2. Choose your allies carefully

Christmas should be a time of peace, coming together and celebration but marketers, you should choose your allies wisely. Aligning with the right tech partners and agencies is key to success. Your allies will help you determine the strategy and tools you need to succeed, especially when it comes to digital marketing, data insight and analytics.

The Game of Thrones audience is prepared for plotlines to change and characters to be bumped off at the drop of a hat – but are marketers prepared for unexpected plot twists in their campaigns? Good allies will be there at your side to tackle problems along the way. So ensure yours (and your marketing tools) will not let you down. Research, select carefully, and trust your instincts as good chemistry means good teamwork when the chips are down.

3. Never underestimate your competition

In the Seven Kingdoms, knowing what other candidates for the Iron Throne are up to can mean life or death. Ruthless and strong, to rule you must be able to rise above competitors – but never disregard or underestimate them, as Oberyn did when he underestimated The Mountain where even his poisoned blade and assiduous desire for revenge could not protect him.

In the marketing world, its key that you learn from competitors’ successes and failures, see where improvements can be made or how unique insight can be used to better position you in the market. Daenerys Targaryen’s enemies needed to heed this lesson, such as The Good Masters in Slavers Bay with their Unsullied army, who disrespected her and didn’t believe she would have the power to overcome them, ultimately to their detriment. The good news is, with data-driven marketing, all our activities are far more measurable than before and research can bring great competitive intelligence.

4. Have a clear strategy

If you don’t have a clear strategy, informed by insight, of where you need to be and how to get there, it’s unlikely you’ll succeed. In Game of Thrones, everyone knows what they want to achieve, and most have plans to reach their goals. Every strategy is different with its own pros and cons, but many could play out and win above the others. For marketers, informed targeted action is key. You must have clear KPIs and goals, be able to track your progress and use insight to achieve.

Have a clear vision this Christmas, whether you’re gathering an army of loyal followers whilst waging a high-profile campaign to get what you want like the Starks; taking an informed long-term, insight-driven subdued strategy like Lord Baelish; relying on your existing power and reputation like the Lannisters; or just praying to the Lord of Light for help.

Game of Thrones is an international success because it delivers exactly what the viewers want, and continually readdresses its offering – it adapts to maintain intrigue and interest and retain a loyal following – exactly what your own marketing strategies should be doing this Christmas.