Let’s just say I was a few years late to the party. I started watching Game of Thrones on New Year’s Day and by March I had finished all 7 seasons. I had heard about the show from my brother who had used the words “cultural phenomenon” to describe it. This made me curious: what makes a cultural phenomenon?
An estimated 17.4 million viewers watched the premiere of the 8th and final season, and I believe the marketing muscle behind it is what makes it a phenomenon. I not only binged all winter, but I learned quickly how many people on social media were nerding-out over the show! Using every marketing trick in the book the show seems to be everywhere. So I set out to learn the brilliance behind their marketing activities. As any savvy marketer would, I decided to watch and engage with all available content out there, and I found 8 EPIC lessons in marketing from Game of Thrones (GOT) I would like to share with you.
Brand consistency means your target audience is being exposed to the same core message over time. This gives your brand positive emotional recognition which you want your audience to associate with. Every episode of GOT begins with the same song and intro. It sets the mood for the watching experience and it taps into our emotional connection to the show. Below is the example. Is your visual branding consistent across platforms and channels?
The Art of Storytelling
GOT is about great storytelling. Storytelling is a powerful way to bring your brand to life and give it personality. It’s an integral part of an effective content marketing strategy. Invest time on developing your content (ex: stories on Instagram, a newsletter, Facebook Live). What story can you tell that your audience can’t wait until the next episode. Is your content GOT engaging?
The Next Episode
Every episode of every season has 2 teasers the “Previously on GOT” and the “Next on GOT” plus a behind the scenes interview with the directors. Often, we sell a service and we forget to tease the buyer with another service they’ll require in the future. Are you dangling the carrot? Are you introduce the next episode?
Once GOT saw that I was engaging with their content, I started receiving stuff across all channels. Teasers, sneak peaks, behind the scenes, experiential shows, interstitial ads, most through video on social. I was consuming content everywhere on my phone, TV, laptop. They even have video on NYC bus stops. Is your content available across platforms and designed for multiple devices?
Heard it from the horse’s mouth, they say. There’s no better way to know what your audience is thinking or feeling than by asking them directly. GOT uses Twitter for conversation starters for the show. Twitter is a tool you can also use consistently to ensure your people get talking and participate in your new marketing initiatives.
Word of Mouth Referrals
Millions of GOT nerds, like me, can’t talk enough about the show. I am their ambassador for the brand, the vehicle that delivers via word of mouth. I couldn’t tell you how many people I have converted. Does the experience you deliver to your customers compels them to refer your brand to others? And is your content top of mind and easy to share?
Co-op advertising programs are strategic alliances between brands where they share on a portion or all of the cost for an advertising placement. This is a cost-effective way for brands to reach their target markets, increase their reach, and strengthens channel engagement. GOT has done an amazing job with this, even getting featured on a Super Bowl ad. Below are a few examples.
Do a quick hashtag search for #gameofthrones and you’ll find that there are hundreds of different accounts that post DAILY GOT content., The show benefits greatly from this exposure at little to no expense. I had the opportunity of meeting a fan of a big celebrity once who would post from her own “fan” account, and she received a small subsidy from the celebrity. These super fans will share your content genuinely and consistently to their audiences. Have you identified your super fans?
About the Author
David Wagner is the Lead Consultant at 1marketingidea, a San Diego digital marketing consulting firm that specializes in social media marketing, websites, email marketing, video marketing, and event marketing.