by Nuno Lopes (@Nuno_ZA) If you are anything like me, you dream of superpowers to save the world — from piss-poor marketing campaigns and loads of budget spent on fluffy “trendy” strategies that are not measurable and quantifiable. Or, maybe, you just dream of the super-power part.

However, dreaming gets us nowhere. The best we in the marketing world can do is learn from those who do have superpowers.

Impossible to avoid

Even if you are a casual moviegoer, it has been impossible to avoid the marketing machine behind any comic-based movie. They are setting box-office and attendance records all around the world. Perhaps the most successful, and personal favourite of mine, has been “Man of Steel”. But this was not the result of an intense two- or three-week publicity blitz; the movie’s marketing was conceived and orchestrated well in advance.

So, upon dissecting or reverse engineering the “winning formula”, what may we as marketers learn from the relatively new consumer phenomenon that has reignited comic book sales, merchandising and given us a reason to flock to the movies again; and how may this be applied to building a success of our brands?

Here are five “Man of Steel” observations that may help us marketers create and deliver stronger marketing campaigns:

  1. Up, up and away! — early alignment between all teams

When Zach Snyder, Christopher Nolan and David Goyer began writing the “Man of Steel” script over five years ago, Warner Brothers immediately began planning its marketing, sponsorship and promotional strategy.

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

  1. *Cue evil laugh* — a clearly identified villain

The character of General Zod is the film’s villain. He is a chilling threat to Superman and the people of Earth. That good-vs-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 in 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 yourself as a credible “protagonist” who may alleviate their pain points.

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

  1. KISS — Keep it simple, stupid!

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

The bad movies are the ones that have too complex a story line — think Thor 2 or Green Lantern.

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 may mean the difference between average and exceptional!

  1. Don’t overlook your fans and superfans

In 2012, Warner Brothers screened a special two-minute preview of “Man of Steel” for attendees of Comic-Con, 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; catering to this passionate niche is a smart way to build buzz, excitement and support.

Who are your industry’s fan and fanatics? Are you including a strategy for reaching, engaging and nurturing these relationships? Every industry has key influencers; savvy marketers should cultivate them

  1. Is it a bird; is it a plane? — 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 and media. For instance, you might 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 premiere date approached.

Consumers want to make informed buying decisions regarding the products, services and solutions they purchase; they rely upon 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.

So, superpowerful showmanship matters in every industry…

Movie-marketing formula

The movie-marketing formula is all about generating interest and standing out in a crowded entertainment marketplace. I feel these 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 comic 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?


Nuno LopesNuno Lopes (@Nuno_ZA) is the founder and managing director of Atomic Marketing, and is an advocate in selling products through visceral experiences.

“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.

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