Why Digital Marketing is Like Game of Thrones
If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones you’ll appreciate the level of hard work that went into writing those books.
So far, George RR Martin (GRRM) has enthralled the world with his vivid imagination, the detailed history of the Seven Kingdoms, and especially the gut-wrenching tragedies behind the characters.
Game of Thrones has everything from dragon-riding fire queens, giants, faceless assassins, to the unstoppable undead.
Despite the lack of dragons, Digital Marketing actually shares a few similarities with Game of Thrones.
The Seven Kingdoms of Digital Marketing
1. Always do your Research
So before GRRM got very far through his second book in the series, it became apparent to him that he needed a complete history to create a full and interesting backstory.
He set about writing a full history of every character, place and object in the series, to help deepen the sense of authenticity for the readers, and to avoid mistakes and plot holes in the story. The tale and backstories grew as he progressed, and soon the second book became the third book, then the fourth book and then finally, the fifth book.
In GRRM’s own words, “Suddenly the stew is much richer, but it also takes more bowls to fill it up”.
In the digital marketing world we don’t have the luxury of making up our backstory. So for us the starting point for most of our work is research. Research will make your digital marketing offering meatier, but will also require more sweat and effort in your ground work.
Get your hands dirty and spend a few hours every day digging into what your competitors are doing:
- Research best practices in your industry, as well as best international practices.
- Stay abreast of the latest trends.
- Discover better ways to use digital platforms.
- Unfold new tools and platforms and how to use them for your business.
2. You Have to be a Good Writer to get a Following
We can all agree that GRRM is a fantastic writer. His technical ability, style and brilliant imagination have kept readers in suspense for decades. Cast your mind back to the expression on your face, your exclamations of rage at GRRM, and the shortness of your breaths when you first read or watched the Red Wedding scene.
Similarly, digital marketing is all about the writing. You’ll write pages for your website and then you’ll have to Search Engine Optimise (SEO) them. You will also write blog posts, social media posts, email newsletters, articles and reams of other copy for the web.
If you’re not a writer you will need to hire someone who can write for you, or go on a few writing courses to improve your writing skills. But most importantly: read!
If you don’t want to listen to us then listen to Tyrion, “A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”
And once you have finished reading, practise writing. As with swordplay, it is a skill that only improves with practise.
3. Have a Personality
The Game of Thrones books have entertained and educated hordes of people as large as the army of the undead. People read the books and watch the series because they are interesting. You definitely would not be able to “Hold the Door” against the following that characters such as Gendry and Hodor have amassed. We blame you, Bran. Why can’t you ever just listen and obey?
When writing articles, blogs and newsletters it helps if you have a bit of a personality. Nobody has the time to trudge through dreary trenches of text, littered with the bodies of those lost along the way.
Be funny and if you can’t be funny, be interesting. People want to be entertained or educated, so make sure (like GRRM), that you’re ticking one or both of those boxes, or your blogs will be as quiet and abandoned as the North will be soon. Winter is here.
4. Kill your Darlings
As hard as it may be, it’s time to tie your favourite marketing methods to a raging funeral pyre, and go full Stannis. R.I.P. Shireen.
Sometimes we need to sacrifice the things that we love, in order to get the results that we desire. You may have an article that you love and have slaved over for weeks, but there’s just something not quite right about it. Or you have a favourite marketing channel that you have used your whole career, but lately it hasn’t been producing positive results. At this point, it may be time to kill your darlings.
Some marketers only use the channels they are comfortable with, and avoid the ones they don’t understand. But, it’s really about the channels that your customers use, not the ones you are comfortable with.
So take the time to test and try every channel until you find the ones that work. And like GRRM, kill the ones that aren’t working for you, even if they are your darlings.
5. Golden Threads
Like GRRM you need a central theme and a few Golden Threads that pull through everything you do, and bind everything together, just like the various theories (it must be R+L = J).
Create an annual marketing calendar and set up monthly themes for your marketing strategy. This will help to integrate your marketing channels across your chosen platforms and make it easier to keep people interested for a longer time. Plus it will give your marketing more structure than a Riverrun trebuchet.
6. There is no Marketing Dragon Glass
Unlike the dragon glass that slays the white walkers with one thrust, with digital marketing there isn’t a ‘silver bullet’ that will magically bring you customers the minute you employ it.
I remember thinking to myself, once that press release goes out, the floodgates will open and the customers will flood me with business. But alas, like Jon Snow pleading for an army to follow him into war, getting clients to buy from you is a long, hard road and there’s really no shortcut.
The more tools you use and the more platforms you use, the better your chances of success.
7. It all Comes Together in the End
Just like GRRM you can’t give up half way just because it’s difficult. GRRM is known for taking forever to finish his books (we are still waiting for The Winds of Winter, George), but in the end, he always produces a piece of brilliance.
As a marketer you know how much hard work goes into getting social media engagement and sales from all your efforts. Stick it out. Your marketing efforts are like a giant snowball leaving Winterfell, gathering snow as it goes. Don’t give up before it has time to reach critical mass.
Imagine Jon gave up at the first obstacle he encountered. Because he overcame the extermination of his family, an army of white walkers, death, and now Ramsay Bolton and his starving hounds, he was able to take back Winterfell.
In the same way, since you’ve worked so hard for so long, it will all come together in the end.
Stay nimble, humble, keep customer service paramount and you’ll find yourself feasting with King and Crown in this Game of Thrones.
Find out more about the author: Dylan Kohlstädt