What’s this? A Halloween-themed blog post?
Secretly I wanted to write a blog post that combined marketing and Buffy ever since I finally watched the show a few years ago. I’m ashamed it took me so long to get to it. There are many marketing lessons from Buffy, and Halloween is the perfect time to share them. These are the top 10. Enjoy this flashback to Buffy and the gang.
Marketing Lesson #1: Let’s hit the books, there’s a new demon in town.
Like hunting demons and vampires, marketing starts with research. Listening to consumers (or in this case, listening to descriptions of the types of vampires or demons), and research is critical in order to understand how to find and research your target audience. Only then can you slay all day.
Marketing Lesson #2: Appearances matter.
In marketing, perception is reality. You can talk about your company and your brand and tell people what you want to them know until you can’t speak anymore. And it doesn’t matter. If someone has a negative experience with your company, they are going to focus on that instead of what you’re telling them. If they have a great experience, they are going to be loyal and keep coming back. If you’re lucky, they’ll want to incorporate you into their life permanently.
“We find it, we alert the Slayer, we help her destroy it, we save Sunnydale… then we join her gang and possibly hang out at her house.”
– Andrew, “Conversations with Dead People”
Marketing Lesson #3: Use The Tools Available to You
“This is my lucky stake. I have killed many vampires with it. I call it Mr. Pointy.”
– Kendra (the slayer)
Buffy always used the tools she had available to get the job done (turning vampires to dust). The marketing lesson here is, use the tools you have. Rely on standbys when they work for you. The market, competition, and technologies evolve, so what works today won’t necessarily work tomorrow, but always be prepared. Test others and be ready to deploy them as needed. Which takes us to…
Marketing Lesson #4: Be Agile.
Vampires popped up. Emotional drama and witty banter boiled over. Buffy never knew what the next moment would hold. Sometimes everything was in song, another time no one could talk, hush… No matter what, Buffy was ready with a stake, fire, sunlight, and whatever else she could find. Be like Buffy. Be agile, and be ready to shift your marketing strategy, mix, channels, etc. if one isn’t working. Reach your target audience with the tools you have.
Marketing Lesson #5: I’m the Slayer.
Have clear goals and purpose. Stay true to your purpose and make sure you follow through on your brand promise. As the slayer, Buffy had clear goals:
Giles:For as long as there have been vampires, there has been the Slayer. One girl in all the world, a Chosen One…
Buffy: He loves doing this part.
Giles: Alright. The Slayer hunts vampires, Buffy is a Slayer, don’t tell anyone.
And no matter how challenging it became over the years, she stayed true to her purpose and the “brand” of her role as the Slayer. Stick to your purpose and your values. Consumers respect and do business with companies whose values align with their own.
Marketing Lesson #6: Build a Strong Team.
Xander: “We’re a team! Aren’t we a team?”
Willow: “Yeah, you’re the Slayer and we’re like the Slayerettes”
Buffy had the Scooby Gang and together they kept Sunnydale safe and saved the world. Everyone in the gang had their role and together they kept Buffy grounded and able to continue killing vampires night after night.
It is critical to build a strong team filled with different skillsets. Harvard Business Journal published an article last year about the importance of balancing your team. The included a personality test to find out what skills your team has.
Marketing Lesson #7: Monitor external influences.
Buffy didn’t have direct competition as the Slayer. Instead, the gang kept a close watch on Sunnydale, the Hellmouth and the cemetery. In a huge stretch, we’re going to call this their “marketplace.” They needed to understand where the vampires were, what they were doing, where they could be reached, and how to reach them. The only difference is Buffy’s targets were vampires that she killed, while yours are consumers you sell to. Big difference, but the point still applies. Keep an eye on the marketplace and understand changes in competition, consumer behavior, trends, and events that could affect your business.
“[Another] slayer? I knew this ‘I’m the only one, I’m the only one’ thing was just an attention getter.”
– Xander, “What’s My Line? Part Two”
Marketing Lesson #8: Location Matters.
Go to where they are, don’t wait for them to come to you. If that means hanging around cemeteries, then so be it. Luckily for marketers, it means knowing where our target audience is and then using those marketing channels or platforms to find them. Mobile, email, direct mail, Facebook. It all has a place, depending on the audience. Find them, be amazing, and eventually, they’ll be sending others your way.
“I’m the Slayer… Slay-er. Chosen One? She who hangs out a lot in cemeteries…? ‘In every genera-‘ You know. I really don’t feel like doing the routine. Ask Around. Look it up: ‘Slayer comma The.'”
– Buffy, “Doomed”
Marketing Lesson #9: Find Your Own Giles.
Mentors are critical to your job and your career. No matter where you are in your career, there is someone who has been there before. Whether you keep the same mentor, or you find different people throughout your career, a mentor can help you navigate politics, situations, help you learn to manage, be a better manager, and celebrate your successes. A mentor can also help motivate and push you beyond your boundaries. Whether you’re fighting vampires or negotiating difficult contracts, your mentor can help guide you towards success.
Marketing Lesson #10: Take the Journey.
Buffy is our hero and we follow her and the gang on their fight against evil, season after season. Even when one of their own is turned evil, the hero prevails, transforming from a seemingly shallow high school girl to the true slayer, and protector of the world. These are the elements that make a great story. What is the story your brand tells? Does your audience want to stick with you for a repeat purchase? What about season after season? Make it worth their while. Make them the hero and help transform their life.
“Buffy, I’ve been through some fairly dark times in my life. Faced some scary things, among them the kitchen of the fabulous ‘Ladies Night’ club. Let me tell you something. When it’s dark and I’m all alone, and I”m scared or freaking out or whatever, I always think, ‘What would Buffy do?’… You’re my hero.”
– Xander, “The Freshman”
“The thing about changing the world… Once you do it, the world’s all different.”
All quotes are from Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer series.
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