Few books have made a bigger impression on culture than J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. With millions of copies sold around the world, the books defined the pre-teens years for the crop of millennials who are now entering the work force. The books are more than purely entertaining fiction, however. They’re rich with allegory and philosophy, and have more to reveal about marketing best practices than you may realize. While we’re fairly certain Rowling didn’t have inbound marketing on the mind when she penned the series, we’ve uncovered some magical lessons to help guide your small business strategy:
1. No One Person – or Tactic – is Sufficient
Harry Potter’s fate and success would have been far different without the friendship and support of his best friends at Hogwarts Academy, Ron and Hermione. Loyalty is a major theme which unites each of the seven books which comprise the series, and the way Hermione’s intelligence and Ron’s unwavering support, Harry could have never defeated Lord Voldemort.
The lesson: Content marketing, SEO, and social media can all work wonders for your brand’s bottom line. That being said, they’re far less effective if used on their own. The intelligence of content marketing or bravery of SEO are certainly admirable qualities to add to your arsenal, but your ability to compete with the darkest forces of competition will be unbeatable if you take a multi-faceted approach.
2. Powers and Budget Don’t Always Prevail
It’s easy to get caught up in envy. Harry’s tale doesn’t come full circle until he realizes there are more powerful forces than tactical knowledge and ability at play. His Mother’s love protected him from Voldemort, and his realization that the Dark Lord has never experienced love allows him to ultimately defeat him.
The lesson: Budget really isn’t everything, and neither are your ability to cast or resist the right spells. Empathy plays the same role in the marketing realm as it did in the remarkable world of Harry Potter, and your ability to place yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas will determine whether you’re able to win.
3. First Things First
One of Rowling’s greatest powers of an author lay in her ability to cast ordinary objects in a tremendously fresh light. Something similar to Hogwart’s sorting hat, which intuited the destiny and house placement of each new student at the school, would be an ideal way for marketers to begin their journey. Since there’s no buyer persona sorting hat we’re aware of, you’ll have to settle for making preliminary decisions the hard way.
The lesson: Hogwarts wouldn’t have been able to effectively fill their houses with the right students without a sorting hat, and you can’t fill your sales quotas without getting vibrant profiles of your customers right. Use your best powers of intuition, and some actual customer insights, to plan your precise course before you invest too deeply in content.
4. Origin Doesn’t Matter
Tremendous conflict exists in Rowling’s alternate universe over the issue of mudbloods, a derogatory term for wizards born to ordinary parents. Harry’s own Mother was a mudblood, and Hermione also originates from non-magical parents. While even the governing presence of the Ministry of Magic may struggle to accept these individuals in the books, their power as wizards is undeniable. Much like in Rowling’s universe, there are few significant disadvantages in online marketing.
The lesson: Adidas’ famous tagline “impossible is nothing,” should be your marketing motto. If there’s anything the internet has taught us, it’s that the ability to create a viral piece of content is equal parts ingenuity, relevance, and sheer luck. Create remarkable content, and never let anyone tell you that it simply isn’t in your genes.
5. There’s Always a Choice
If fate had prevailed in the Harry Potter series, there wouldn’t have been a happy ending. Harry had every reason to succumb to his dark tendencies, and turn the world into a very dark place indeed. However, he chose to reject evil, even though it wasn’t the easiest path to take. While few things are as simple in marketing as morality, you always have a choice to modify your destiny.
The lesson: Agility matters greatly in obliterating your marketing metrics. Don’t commit to a certain course of action just because you’ve completed your content calendar for the month. Use your website analytics as a compass, and shape your company’s future.
6. You Will Prevail
Harry deals with some pretty tough stuff for a teenager, particularly in the latter books. He defends himself against dementors and death eaters, and defeats a series of daunting opponents animal and wizard opponents. Considering these challenges, don’t your marketing goals seem a bit less overwhelming?
The lesson: Virtually every marketer falls short of their dreams every so often. You may not hit your goals for the month, or struggle to implement sales-marketing agreements. You might work hard to produce a fantastic piece of content that just doesn’t gain traction. Constantly work to increase your knowledge of the marketing arts to ensure you’ve got just the right spell up your sleeve to turn things around when you need to.
7. Don’t Get Cocky
Lord Voldemort was a legitimately terrible strategist. His plan for dominance was entirely based on his own self-perception, which was that he was the world’s most powerful wizard. This over-confidence was ultimately his weakness. While it seems ridiculous when put in those terms, it’s clear that the demise of many a marketing plan has been over-confidence.
The lesson: Accept your mortality, and understand that the best marketers have a mentality that’s really similar to Harry Potter. Arm yourself with the spells of all the latest studies, but understand that you might not win. Fortunately, a failed marketing campaign isn’t typically as devastating as losing to Voldemort, so you can simply dust yourself off and start over anew.
While you may not be able to hire a headhunter to recruit Harry Potter to your inbound marketing team, you’ve certainly got the choice to adopt his best qualities. By taking an agile stance, carefully analyzing your opponent’s weakness, and surrounding yourself with talented people, your small business strategy could be every bit as successful as his penultimate bout with the Dark Lord.
What marketing and business lessons have you learned from Harry Potter and other great heroes and heroines in books?
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