October 12, 2013

The Walking Dead and other ways to capture consumers

“Kenneth: Is everyone there dead?

Steve: Yeah, in the sense that they all, sort of, fell down, and then… got up and… started eating each other.”

What questions do you ask about your marketing strategy – are they the right questions? Or are they only the questions you already know the answers to?

The Walking Dead has put forth and benefited by the movement of “zombie-mania” over the last few years. And their marketing campaign not only embraces it, but triumphs in ways that many others haven’t with the same environment. We provided a few keys as to why this television show has done their homework and executed well.

Caveat: it is known – or should be known – that zombie movies tend to make great headway (pun intended) during economic downturns in particular. Has something to do with societal discomfort and the desire to survive.

At any rate, that cultural reflection notwithstanding, the ability to take advantage of cultural phenomenon is what is most relative when it comes to marketing. Recently, a staff member pointed out a curious faux paux from the New York Comicon event whereby the company managing the social media for the event tied the coded transmitters for the event passes to the ability to post tweets and status updates automatically. It was not done “out in the open” so much as in the “fine print”. Alas, while I expect Shannon Jelle (the staff member who found the news) to write more about this triumph in subversion, it’s indicative of organizational attempts to capitalize on the”now” of where culture, people and news are.

Get close to the money. If you are close to the money, you’ll be able to convert sales more easily. it’s a marketing premise that is complete in it’s strategy, but difficult in application. And, whether it is a misstep like New York Comicon or some other mishap via social media or otherwise, the rapidity with which things happens anymore can be great or horrible, depending on the perspective.

But back to The Walking Dead. What makes their particular marketing campaign so wonderful? It’s due in large part to the unapologetic trust they have built with their audience. And with the regularity, frequency and consistency with which they apply it and support it. The fact of the matter is, you can have a horrible product, but if you are authentic, frequent, honest and captivating in your presentation, you might as well have a brilliant product. Because you will sell it.

On the flip side, you can have an amazing, life-changing, world moving product – but if you don’t know how to market with those principles, you might as well take your toys and go home because you won’t sell them like you should.

Here’s the brutal truth about marketing: what stands between you and sales is often you. Your pride, knowledge, desire to do what you want to do, opinion, or adherence to doing things because “that’s how they’ve always been done”. Those are the things that keep you from growing in your sales and marketing inroads.

How do you avoid those pitfalls? But doing what The Walking Dead does: Allow others to be “an expert” in how you present. Listen, learn and reflect your market…and be consistent in it. Learn to let go and you could experience the rejuvenation your company may need in it’s marketing. Let Shane die. Heck Let Glenn die. But do so by not holding onto your own sacred cows. (Fans will get this…non-viewers won’t. It does not disqualify the statement).

In today’s marketing world where much of what’s said, no matter where it’s say is of equal weight, the execution of where, when and how things are said take on greater importance. The ability to “stick with the plan” rather than shift because of internal strife, and yet move with agility to match the speed of the world, is important. Discernment is the best tool a company can deploy. And it’s reflected in all you do.

(Quote at the beginning was from the 2004 movie, Dawn of the Dead. It is in this author’s opinion the cinematic equivalent of The Walking Dead television program in terms of brilliance.)

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