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How Marketing is Like The Game of Thrones

Depending upon where you live, winter is over – or at least almost over. That is, unless you live in Westeros – where winter is still coming… Fortunately for Game of Thrones fans, the final season is going to air soon.

Some of us here at ILS are big GOT fans ourselves, so we thought we’d have a little fun and apply its lessons and themes to our day job: Marketing. Here we go!

No More Auto-Pilot: Wake Up Your Marketing Strategies

If there’s an area of your marketing that you haven’t touched in a while – say, you haven’t refreshed your website in over a year, or you’ve put off investigating a new social media tactic – then it’s likely time for you to pull back the covers and air out the room.

Weeks in a coma may have helped to heal Bran, but that doesn’t mean comatose thinking will ever revive flagging marketing efforts. 

game of thrones character

What to do:

1 – Start small.
You may want to change the world overnight, but life (and marketing) rarely works like that. Never fear: Like Tyrion, good things can come in small packages. Choose one area of your strategy to focus on and stick with it until you see results.

2 – Think big.
Be adventurous with your one small change!  What are your current constraints? What’s possible within them? Arya had a sword but no one believed she could – or would – use it… until she did.

3 – Proceed with caution.
The Rangers of the Night’s Watch are rough and tumble guys, but even they didn’t take unnecessary risks. Be prepared for unexpected developments, and have a back-up plan to support you if necessary.

A REAL WORLD EXAMPLE

Let’s say you own a bakery and your goal is to increase your keyword ranking on search engines (that’s #1 above).

One way to do this is to take advantage of local SEO. First, use a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner or SEMRush to learn which search queries are helping people to find your business online. Then, research what steps competitors are taking to rank better in local search by inputting their URL into Google’s Keyword Planner.

With that data in hand, compile a list of keywords and phrases that are relevant for your industry: i.e., cupcakes, pastries, desserts. Then consider modifiers: one-day service, birthday, wedding, etc. People tend to look for businesses near them first, so also add local identifiers like city names or neighborhoods.

Then you’re ready for #2: Beyond this exercise, where else can you influence keyword rank? Use the same keyword queries in content, advertising, and strategic communications. Make sure you include that information on your Google My Business page and your website. Monitor citations, backlinks, and reviews for these key phrases and encourage their use as much as possible.

Finally, #3: Test and monitor, and change things up as you need to.

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Research and Execute

Execution is a dangerous proposition, especially on Game of Thrones (just ask Ned Stark). So before you get to that point, make sure you have plenty of information, and time to consider how to use it.

game of thrones character

What to do:

1 – Identify your options.
We all have our “little birds.” Like Varys, put out feelers and collect as much information as you can.

2 – Consider alternatives.
The best leaders lay out their war plans, and lay them out again. Think of how X might affect Y. Seriously – if Walder Frey could only have seen into the future, he might still be alive…

3 – Commit.
When it is time to act, be decisive. Ride into battle like Jaime Lannister, and give your new plan time to unfold.

A REAL WORLD EXAMPLE

You’re an author and speaker that wants to reach Audience X, who you haven’t marketed to before. Use every data-gathering tool at your disposal – surveys, interviews, research, word of mouth, your own customer data – to learn what you can about these prospects and develop ideal personas (#1 above). How do they get their information? What are their problems? What solutions can you provide?

#2 – What can you do to meet this audience where they live? Host a webinar, use targeted ads, write a white paper, the list is endless. If you do X, how might it affect Y?

Decide on a plan of action and implement it with your full backing (#3).

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Digital Marketing Dominance Starts with Relevant Strategy and Insightful Key Messaging

We all would like to rule our marketing worlds – but only some of us have dragons (that’s right, Targaryens – and some of our competitors, we’re talking about you). The rest of us might have to be a little scrappier to succeed. 

game of thrones character

What to do:

1 – Discover what you own.
The Stonecrows could rely on their brute strength. Cersei had the secret of wildfire. Sansa endured some brutal lessons, but she learned from them. What do you have or know that you can use to your advantage? In what ways can you use it?

2 – Craft strategies that play to your strengths.
Littlefinger was low-born and could have been inconsequential; instead, he used his ability to manipulate people to put himself into a position of power (we’re not advocating that, by the way). Find ways to incorporate things you do well into your marketing structure – and blow your own horn about it, too.

3 – Hone in on your real message.
While the rest of the kingdoms were squabbling among themselves, Jon Snow saw the real enemy they all faced and consistently spoke its truth. Make your message concise and powerful, and people will listen (if you can, include something impactful like imminent death by White Walkers – just sayin’).

A REAL WORLD EXAMPLE

You’re a law firm in Silicon Valley that handles patents. Several senior members of your legal team have patents of their own and have developed key relationships with federal patent officers. These are differentiators – what you own (#1).

In addition to traditional marketing, one strategy you might employ to reach new clients is by attending inventor tradeshows or becoming members of inventor organizations (#2).

And #3, use benchmark data to show these prospects that you have a high success rate in securing patents, or that your firm closes on new patent opportunities x times faster than a competitor can.

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The moral of the story: Even if you’re not a queen or a knight, you can have control of your own marketing kingdom. Use some of these tips to improve your business strategies – and don’t forget to tune in for the GOT final season!

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Nicole Hudson is an engaging thought leader in marketing strategy development, branding, demand generation, content marketing, SEO, social media, storytelling, social selling, marketing technology and lead generation. Her firm, Inbound Lead Solutions, focuses on sales, communications and marketing alignment with B2B companies, franchising, professional services, keynote speakers, authors, and consultants. Hudson’s marketing strategies have been recognized by Franchise Media Group in two consecutive years with Star Awards for social media lead generation, and by a Dbusiness Magazine award in 2016 for Marketing Consulting. Her work has been featured in multiple LinkedIn case studies on SEO, content marketing and lead generation. She published a book collaboration with Bulldog Reporter (Infocom), The Advanced LinkedIn PR Handbook. Hudson has developed social media strategies for three national television appearances: Be the Boss, Shark Tank and Undercover Boss. Nicole is a member of the International Franchise Association, Detroit Women in Digital, and AMA Detroit. She is a board advisor for Mother Honestly, a collective of women CEOs, executives, investors and career professionals; and a board member and marketing chair for Community Home Supports, a Detroit non-profit. Hudson is a recurring columnist in Career Mastered Magazine and a regular keynote speaker, content contributor, and trainer on sales, marketing, and communication topics.

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