What Horror Movies Can Teach Us About Marketing

Don't go at it alone

Integrated marketing requires more than one channel. That's where the "integration" comes from – duh. Look at your advertising campaigns like a theatrical performance; everyone plays a part to tell a much larger story. 

Don’t do open doors with giant locks on them

When marketing a campaign, a shiny object or easier path can easily distract you. This typically makes your story more complex and fragmented. Once your campaign is rolling, don’t derail the outcome – unless of course the metrics tell you to redirect the campaign due to weak performance or inefficiencies.

People who get caught having sex will always get killed

Don't put your genitalia on the Internet, no matter how good the idea may seem at the time. The last thing you need is to get fired and waste money rebuilding your credibility in the process.

Never get drunk and curse a lot

This still holds up. Nothing like dropping a couple of F-bombs to kill your campaign, career and possibly the integrity of the client’s brand.

Not everyone is who they seem to be

Trust within your fan base is super difficult to accrue – and easy to demolish. When building on an integrated campaign, it's exceedingly important to have a GREAT community manager on the case.

<tangent> I attended a recent webinar that included the outline of a McDonald’s Twitter case study. In a brilliant move, Mickey D’s puts a face on the social team. What I like about this is that it makes McDonald’s "human." It's easy to get mad at a big, bad, faceless corporation. But creating a genuine face-to-face feel on Twitter makes the company more relatable. </tangent> 

Back to trust: Think of your community as real people with no genuine ties to your brand. You must constantly maintain and incentivize conversation, communication and feedback in order to maintain that trust. Ignore the community and they will turn on you like Wilfred Brimley’s character in "The Thing."


Reading the text of ancient demons can lead to a blood bath

Watch out for trolls who attack your thinking. While it's important to take action, it's also important NOT to react in a way that could cause or incite further provocation. Take time to research your enemy and act accordingly – often that means you shouldn’t act at all. 

Demons never die, forget or care

Trolls are like cancer that is in remission. They can return at any time and turn on you with 10x their previous power. So maintain a constant connection with problems and bad PR. That way you don’t give the trolls a reason to attack. It also speaks volumes to your audience that you're actively improving, optimizing and evolving your channels of engagement.

Demonic possession is 9/10 of the law

The sad thing is that we all have competitors vying for market share. Therefore you need to be consistent in your messaging and progressively optimize your campaigns. I constantly ask other agencies about the size of their intelligence department. And when they look at me as if I'm a federal agent, I explain. I want to know if they have people who pull data to make campaigns better throughout the lifecycle. A/B tests and post-campaign wrap-ups are simply not enough anymore. Your marketing company should use these, as well as a fleet of social media monitoring tools (AKA: "listening tools").

Is it better to stick to the path - or go in the woods?

This is an interesting point that can go either way. Traditional marketers will say you start at "A" and end at "Z." The transmedia storyteller will say you start at "A" and end at "9YU."

Wait, WTF are you saying?

 The targets of your storytelling and social efforts are more than an “audience.” They are passive "participants" in your campaigns. This is hard for traditional agencies to put their heads around because it conflicts with the nature of their creative. If at the end of “Romeo and Juliet,” the star-crossed lovers absconded with a spaceship, then circled back and attacked their families with nerve gas – tickets might sell out. But most agencies are ill-equipped to pitch a story without an ending.

This is, however, becoming easier. Clients are now more likely to understand how audience reaction is used to modify and improve a campaign. For more on this idea see "transmedia storytelling."

Without weapons you will most certainly die

Chainsaw – check. Boom stick – check. Social Monitoring – check. SilverPop – check. You can see where this is going, right?

The basement is where it all goes wrong

Clients often like the comfort of going down to the cellar so they can blow the dust off old ideas. This is bad, bad, bad. 

I recently heard an awesome quote: "They don't put rear-view mirrors on a 747, because there's no time to go looking for what's behind you." 

That statement holds up in our current marketing climate. Clients that want to hang their hat on previous campaigns or creative that worked five years ago will be shocked when they find it no longer works. Why? Because the audience is smarter, faster and more apt to sniff out tired old strategies. Give them the respect they deserve or you won’t get the attention.

The house on the hill does not have gas for your car

Be careful with whom you align yourself inside a campaign. It's easy to think, "If I get a partner for this portion, it could offset the costs." That might be true, but remember that when you drive a complex, integrated marketing campaign of your own engagement and conversation, you ramp up the complexity when have to maintain and evaluate third parties.

Of course you will need some key affiliate relationships and partners in a great campaign. But the more you can control the conversation, the more you can prevent a potential collapse. Thing of controlling vendors within a campaign as a joint venture of sorts, or the dreaded word "silo." Yeah, I said it.

They want your brains

Outside of an awesome product and great customer service, your audience wants you to be smart. Products these days are lead by a great deal of intelligence. As much as customers don't want to be sold to, they DO want to be told how smart they are for buying a particular product. Additionally, they want to be told about what you have planned and what’s coming up next. And they will expect favoritism for the brand loyalty.

Watch large tech brands. When they launch a product, they tease us with new ideas, and give us a behind-the-scenes look at what the future might hold for users. While these techniques are not all that new, utilizing your social channels effectively will give you the most bang for your proverbial buck.

Where there is one, there are more than likely many

Just like a crisis and bad PR can spread like ripples in the water, so can good news and positive messaging. If you impress one person with your killer customer service or authentic personality in a social channel, it’s likely they will expand the message for you. 

So while it's incredibly important not to “sell” within your social channels, it's just as important to ask for your users to help spread the message. This can be as simple as a question: “Have your friends or family ever use this product? What were their thoughts?” 

Should we stay together, or divide and conquer?

While it's important to keep your community happy, it's also important for you to serve them with the most appropriate information. Ask your group periodically if they're getting the conversation that they want. If not, it might be time to fragment the brand into silos of conversation.  

For instance, Nike can't simply talk about Nike as a whole and expect to sell all of it's offerings. It needs to break out the messaging based on the differences in various product lines and user demographics. Marathon runners and soccer players might both love Nike products, but they care about distinctly different parts of the product line. Both groups should receive some of the same core messages. However the specific product information and training tips will be vastly different.