We’re all keen to learn great marketing techniques from the experts. But, while we frequently look to real life experts, what happens if we look at some fictional success stories?
June 26th marked a very important day across the world: the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter book series. The Harry Potter books have been translated into over 60 languages and have sold over 400 million copies worldwide. Over two decades, J K Rowling has created a magical, yet relatable world that everybody knows and loves, becoming a global name. She is one of only two women to make the top 10 of Forbes’ rich list 100.
There are so many reasons why the books are so popular, but a stand-out factor will always be the characters. Harry may be the hero, but for marketing purposes, we need to talk about he-who-must-not-be-named.
Voldemort was an excellent marketer. Yes, ultimately, he did end up getting himself killed, which we don’t recommend including in your strategy. However, I think this was more about his goals than his marketing (wanting only pure-blood wizards and to be the most powerful wizard of all isn’t the best business idea). While we may not believe in Voldemort’s ideas, the sheer amount of strategic and successful marketing he did amounted to his power and resurrection.
If you’re a business, celebrate Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary by seeing what you can learn from Voldemort’s marketing techniques.
- Bold and Unashamed PR Campaign
Voldemort believed that any PR was good PR, happy to accept negative responses for his utter hatred and ruthless killings. The majority of his work would make the front page of The Daily Prophet. All of his press was bad, but he didn’t seem to care.
While we urge you to only use your marketing wand for good, don’t be afraid to create a bold marketing and PR campaign to get your name and brand out there. For small or unknown brands, even negative PR can be turned into a positive. In some cases, bad PR has even increased sales. However, it’s not a smart idea to have negative press all of the time. For bigger companies, it can damage a reputation. What we can learn from Voldemort is to be confident and take opportunities to get your message out there.
- Recognisable and Aggressive Branding
Everybody knows the importance of making your brand recognisable. If you see a small blue bird on a web page, you know it will take you to Twitter. It’s instantly recognisable and we know exactly what it means.
Similarly, if you see a snake coming out of a skull, you know it’s the The Dark Mark. During the 1994 Quidditch World Cup when The Dark Mark was conjured in the sky, the whole world knew what it meant and terror reigned. The symbol is instantly recognisable and commands fear.
This is the emotional power you want to have with your branding. While terror may not be the emotion you’re aiming for, having an instant and passionate reaction to a brand is important. For example, you might see the Apple logo and get excited about a new product. An eCommerce website might have an image of a padlock and a security certificate, which customers find trustworthy.
Clearly, branding is crucial, so putting time and investment into creating some memorable branding is important during a marketing campaign.
- Standing Out from Wizarding Competitors
All marketing requires a business to stand out from its competitors by offering something unique.
Voldemort was unlike any of his competitors. It’s unknown in the wizarding world if anybody apart from Voldemort created a horcrux. But, Voldemort didn’t want to take any chances, so he created seven of them. Why not replicate something similar for your business (preferably not so evil as creating horcruxes)?
For eCommerce websites, offer free delivery on purchases over £50, next-day delivery if you order before 5 pm, or a product tracker — just something that none of your rivals is able to provide consumers. Doing so will make you stand out from the crowd and fight your competition. You want to show yourself as a brand that can offer stuff that nobody else in your field can, just like Voldemort.
- Building a Loyal Network of Followers, AKA ‘Death Eaters’
Contrary to the belief of some, Voldemort didn’t have social media to reach out to influencers, nor did he carry out any digital PR to get his name and brand known. Despite this, he managed to build a strong group of followers to represent him and share his ideas with the greater wizarding world.
Lucius Malfoy was a great Death Eater because of the influence he had in the Ministry of Magic. His position of power meant he was able to influence others to do the bidding of Voldemort. For us muggles, this translates into influencer marketing.
Great marketing campaigns involve working with bloggers and influencers, whether this is through sponsored posts, reviews, or giveaways. When choosing influencers or bloggers, it’s essential to look for people who are relevant to your field and will reach out to your target audience, just like Voldemort did with Lucius.
- Offer Unbeatable Rewards (Life Instead of Death)
Voldemort doesn’t ask for money, all he asks for is commitment and loyalty. What do his followers get in return? Security. If you commit to Voldemort, he won’t kill you. Seems like a great way to get people behind your ideas. Of course, many of his followers believed in his goals to create a pure-blood wizarding world and joined willingly — but that only came after Voldemort’s branding had developed to the point where it could influence people.
Maybe hanging your customers’ own safety and mortality over their head to convince them to buy a product is a bit extreme. Still, showing people the benefits of being on your side is key here. What do people gain from buying from you or using your services? Do you offer results in the fastest time, or a discount if somebody refers a friend? As well as standing out from competitors, you need a reason for people to stick with you and your business.
Thank you, J K Rowling, for creating a supervillain who’s surprisingly marketing-savvy. Despite having pretty deplorable morals and goals, Voldemort taught us what determination and desire can do for a marketing campaign.
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About the Author
Helen Anglin is a content marketer for Nottingham digital marketing agency Exposure Ninja. She loves creating creative content for her clients and is a huge Harry Potter fan.