Marketing tips we can learn from Marvel's The Avengers

Marketing Lessons from “Marvel’s The Avengers”

We all want to be superheroes. I don’t just mean when we’re kids. Adults do, too. After all, don’t we want everyone to know our name, to have a catchy tagline, to make sure our colors and logos are seen around the world as we make a difference in the lives of people everywhere?

Wait…are we talking about superheroes or a businesses?

When you think about it, there are a lot of similarities! So why not look to the biggest superhero film of all time – Marvel’s The Avengers – and see what marketing tips we can’t suss out from it to grow our business to heroic proportions.

Captain America – Be Aware of Your Brand

Marvel's Captain America

The story of Steve Rogers is one of a great man and a great soldier. However, as Captain America, he becomes more than that: he becomes a symbol for truth, justice, and the American Way. It’s played as a joke at first in Captain America: The First Avengers, as Cap tours the country selling war bonds and entertaining soldiers, but he soon becomes the image of bravery in the battle against evil.

Our goals are (usually) less lofty, but we all represent ourselves and our company in our own ways. We brand ourselves not just visually in how our site looks or what our profiles pictures are, but in how we interact with customers, partners, and even competitors. It’s the tone and persona we use in blog posts and tweets.

For many, our online brand will be the first, and sometimes only, impression we get to make. That’s why you should:

  • Brand your site(s). Use your logo, colors, and themes wherever you can: your site, your social media accounts, and even supplementary content like infographics and eBooks.
  • Have a style guide. If there are terms that are specific to your industry or company, make sure you’re using them the right way. Have consistent capitalization and a firm stance on serial commas. These may seem like small things, but consistency goes a long way in establishing your professionalism and authority.
  • Complete your social media pages. That means profile and header images, all of the profile information filled out, and so on. Don’t make it seem like you’re taking half measures online.

Iron Man – Be Innovative

There are few things more thrilling in a Marvel movie than seeing what Iron Man armor Tony Stark will whip up next. Whether it’s something cobbled together in a page, an armor unfolding from a briefcase, or one that attaches to his body in midair, you can always expect to see something new.

Iron Man Suits

You should have the same mindset for your company. Sure, like Iron Man, this may be technology-related – looking out for the latest social media platform or using the right tools and software to make your life easier – but it has to do with your general business as well.

Think of new and innovative ways to engage with your customers, whether it’s an image contest on Pinterest or a new product, like an eBook, that will get you in the door with their contact information. Coming up with content can be difficult, so think outside the box a little bit; for example, if you are creating content for a makeup or fashion company, you might be able to write about interview or workplace attire to reach a completely different audience of professionals that you might not have thought was part of your core customer base.

The point is to never settle. Your competitors will always be looking for an edge, and you can’t be afraid to look for new ways to do business.

Hulk – Embrace Being Different

There’s a lot of noise online. The ability to speak with customers via social media and other channels is great, but that means you’re not only competing with other businesses to get your voice out there, but with everyone else, too. You’ve probably noticed that Twitter gets pretty crowded!

You can’t be afraid to be different. Now, you can be different in a bad way – just ask Bruce Banner, who’s less than thrilled that his “different” is a raging green Hulk. But one of the best scenes in The Avengers is when Bruce gives into his anger and is able to use the Hulk for good, which turns the tide of the film’s climactic final battle.

So what does that mean for you? It means stand out. Become a Green Goliath and make sure people notice you. Cause a little havoc in the best way by being disruptive and – going back to Iron Man – innovative. Use your brand to capture people’s attention.

Marvel's Hulk

Dollar Shave Club is the perfect example of this. They positioned themselves as something different in a few ways:

  • Price. It’s all in their name – Dollar Shave Club. Don’t pay high prices for razors when you can get them from DSC for a fraction of the cost.
  • Convenience. Cheaper, and they’ll get delivered to your door? Even better.
  • Personality. DSC came to prominence thanks to a hilarious, irreverent video that went viral. It wasn’t like the way companies usually talk to people. They continue that with their packaging, which comes with pamphlets full of puzzles and stories about their customers. Their blog and social media accounts have the same fun, friendly tone (one of their most recent posts? “How Often Should I Go Number Two?”).

DSC has become a huge success not just because of their product, but they’ve found a way to connect with their audience through a unique hook in their marketing.

Thor – Don’t Be Arrogant

Thor learned a lesson in humility by being banished to Earth for his arrogance before recognizing his true calling as a hero. We would do well to learn the same lesson: arrogance isn’t attractive, and it pushes people away.

Marvel's Thor

Companies are becoming more than just faceless entities. They interact with customers, sometimes on a one-on-one basis thanks to platforms like Twitter. There’s a lot more expected from companies than just a product or service; customers like to feel that you’re on their side, part of the same team. Being rude or unhelpful, especially on social media where it’s out there for the world to see, is a guaranteed death knell for your business.

Don’t think that customers can’t or won’t go to your competitors. Time and again we’ve seen companies like Uber, Dollar Shave Club, or Netflix come into an established industry, innovate in more ways than one, and steal customers by the boatload. Never assume you’re untouchable because, in short, you aren’t.

Your marketing should never be about you. It should always be about you customers – what they want, what they need, how they will benefit from whatever you’re doing. Remember that and there’s a much higher chance that they’ll stick around.

Black Widow – Get up Close and Personal

Marvel's Black Widow

Even online, marketing is a very hands-on process. You can’t be afraid to dig into things, speak with people, and really figure out what makes your customers and your business tick.

Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, knows all about that. Her introduction in Iron Man 2 had one of the most kinetic fight scenes in the film, which is saying a lot when other combatants included an army of flying robots. In The Avengers, she’s leaping from enemy to enemy, using everything at her disposal.

That’s a lot like marketing, minus the tasers. You need to know your customers in a very personal way. How do you do that? You can create buyer personas so you know exactly the type of person you’re marketing to. This will save you a lot of wasted effort trying to reach people who aren’t part of your core business.

It also involves speaking with people. Social media is a two-way street, and when you act like a person rather than a company, having a conversation with your audience, you’re more likely to make a lasting impression.

You also need to get your hands dirty with your business. Don’t be afraid of analytics to see how content is performing. Use A/B testing to see what works and what doesn’t work. There’s a lot that goes into creating an effective marketing campaign or presence, and you’ll be doing a disservice if you try to distance yourself from learning what you need to do to make things better.

Hawkeye – Aim at Long-Range Goals

We’ve already talked about how fast-paced the world of online marketing is. It’s easy to get bogged down in what’s happening now, just trying not to drown in the tasks you have to get done today.

However, it’s important to always be looking ahead. Don’t always focus on what’s right in front of you; make sure to be looking down the line. Hawkeye saw enemies in the distance and took aim at them, ensuring that they didn’t come closer and closer until they became a problem that had to be dealt with at the expense of other issues. We need to think the same way.

Marvel's Hawkeye

How can we do that? Luckily, there are a lot of tools that let you plan for the future. One is an editorial calendar. This lets you plan out your content for the foreseeable future and gives you a snapshot of what you’re planning. You might find that you’re neglecting a certain social media channel, or that you’re posting too much about a specific topic, or that you need to mix things up a little bit with an infographic rather than yet another blog post. If you see these sorts of problems coming, you’ll do a better job avoiding them. Whether you use a management program like Trello or a simple spreadsheet, an editorial calendar is invaluable.

Automation is also a life saver in this department. Tools like Hootsuite let you see multiple social media channels at once and schedule posts so you don’t have to constantly be paying attention; you can schedule a few tweets and then focus on a more immediate task. Likewise, email marketing tools like MailChimp allows you to send emails automatically based on customer activity and schedule marketing campaigns. If you can plan and automate some tasks, it makes your to-do list a lot shorter.

Nick Fury – Always Have a Plan

Nick Fury is a badass, and it isn’t just because he’s played by Samuel L. Jackson. Introduced way back in the first Iron Man and really setting the stage for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Fury has played roles of varying importance in most of Marvel’s films, sometimes overtly and other times by staying in the shadows. He said the words that launched a franchise phenomenon: “Avengers Initiative.”

Most of us probably don’t have a manilla folder with a roster of superhumans we’re trying to recruit, but the Avengers Initiative is a good lesson in always having a plan. Fury didn’t see the world just as it was, but as it could be, and knew he needed to be ready for it. Like Fury, we need to have a plan in place.

Marvel's Nick Fury

The Avengers are made up of its individual members, so it’s only appropriate that this tip encompasses the others we’ve already talked about. The overarching backbone of your plan is how you’re presenting your brand; how people perceive you ultimately goes a long way in their decision to spend money with you or not. You have to be ready to try new things, jump on new social media and analytics platforms to help you do your job, and not be happy with where you are.

You need to stand out from your competitors; how do you plan on doing that? Do you know what your next move is? Even better, do you know what your competitors’ are planning? The Internet moves quickly, and you have to move just as fast.

Embrace your customers. Don’t lose site of day-to-day activities, like speaking with your audience or getting your posts up. At the same time, make sure you have the tools for long-term success so you don’t find yourself scrambling for content.

Keep all of this in mind when you’re planning your next marketing moves. The Avengers made over a billion dollars at the box office, so if these tips are good enough for them, they should be good enough for you!

Bonus

Watch the new preview for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron! See any marketing tips in this trailer?

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