Marketing July 30, 2013 Last updated September 18th, 2018 2,349 Reads share

5 Marketing Lessons From Television Shows

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As a huge TV fanatic, I often spend countless hours watching television, just soaking in both the goodness and the crap that comes with it. Recently, however, I’ve realized that if we look closely enough, TV shows can actually teach us some tricks about marketing.


Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

# 1. The Story

If there’s one thing people love, it’s a great story. People connect to stories and characters. Particularly, the How I Met Your Mother series got men and women of different ages to get in touch with their lovey-dovey side, to empathize with Ted’s journey for “the one”, and even to make them feel good about it.

Your takeaway: Tell a great story. Instead of bombarding them with your product, sell your coming-to-life story (e.g., how your company started; the story behind each product). This way, they’ll see you more of a confidante rather than a faceless profit-centric business. Look back on your beginnings that would make your consumers want to ride the journey with you.

Inspiration: In one way or another, we’ve heard about the struggles and stories behind big brands for the obvious reason that can easily pay for huge video ads and even documentaries. But what about startups? The Next Web has thought of a great way to feature them and their beginnings in the website’s series of short films called “Startup Stories”. The series revolves around the hardships and rewards of the people behind these starting companies—really a great way to introduce yourselves in the industry.

# 2. Determination

One word to describe The Walking Dead marketing team? Determined. They’re so keen on promoting the show that aside from their media cross-overs, they gave the audience a live show. Through experiential marketing, zombies were not only able to conquer the streets of New York but also the social media world.

Your takeaway: Create an experience. With the help of social media, engage not only your loyal customers but also those who are not familiar with your company. One of the best online marketing lessons here is: don’t underestimate the power of social media. Utilize it for brand awareness, establishment, follow-up, and consistency. Create an experience for consumers and allow curiosity to take over.

Inspiration: Last year, Red Bull resounded with glorious success in the world over. With the help of social media and netizens, about 8 million tuned in to Youtube to watch Red Bull’s “Stratos” campaign. This did not only raise awareness about the brand but also took it to new and great heights (pun intended).


# 3. Engagements

One of the longest-running and successful talent shows has got to be American Idol. From auditions to backstage drama, everything is set to appeal to the emotions. This eventually led to viewers’ attachment towards the contestants, judges, and ultimately, the show.

Your takeaway: Engage your consumers. Appeal to their emotions by building a connection between them and the products/services you’re selling. Make them care for you and your product. This is what drove AI viewers to pick up their phones and vote for their favoured contestants. So will it be for you once you let them.

Inspiration: The Coca-Cola Co. can claim the crown for being the brand that most appeals to consumers’ emotions but the Kickstarter project Pocket Spacecraft needs to be at least an honorable mention. Who couldn’t resist a promise of a spacecraft of their own—personalized with pictures and messages—being sent to the moon? This quickly caught people’s attention and definitely appealed to their emotions and sense of adventure.

# 4. Sell the lifestyle

Nothing gets cooler than seeing a show come to life, which is what the marketing people from True Blood did. From vampire protests to a vampire beverage ad, they made sure people were buying into the exciting idea of vampires living among us (and did so without even mentioning the show).

Your takeaway: Sell a lifestyle. Show people why they should buy your product and what they’re missing out on when they don’t. Instead of pushing a product, introduce a lifestyle. What’s in it for them? Look at their motivation and let that drive them towards you.

Inspiration: British retailer Projector Point has got a pretty “boring” industry—selling projectors. But they’ve soon realized that talking about home cinemas and giving advice that movie addicts can’t resist works best in terms of sales and website traffic. Anyway, why focus on the product when talking about the lifestyle it can give appeals more to people?

# 5. Be intuitive

Lastly, let’s look at a show that have outwitted and outplayed others: Survivor. There’s no arguing that alliances, manipulation, and strategies have become central to the show. Every now and then, though, it proves that the best strategy can come from a feeling.

Your takeaway: Be intuitive. Sometimes no matter how carefully planned things are, you’ll have to trust your intuition. From deciding who to trust to what you have to do, you cannot go wrong with that “gut feeling” you have. Listen to it.

Inspiration: Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard with only two things in hand, skill and guts. He listened to that inkling he had and pursued something that went on to become one of the most successful social media businesses today. If Facebook came from someone’s gut feeling, imagine what can come from yours?

So, there. Besides proving that TV-addicts and couch potatoes (such as myself) can learn a thing or two about famous TV shows, it goes to show that even simple concepts can do wonders once applied in real life. And it’s not just big brands that can benefit from it but startups as well. In the business world, a mix of creativity, ingenuity and simplicity can already go a long way.

Now for some PR lessons, let’s see… Game of Thrones, anyone?

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Kimberly Grimms

Kimberly Grimms

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