The Dark Knight is a pillar of marketing success, if only you look hard enough.
I watched The Dark Knight for the umpteenth time last night, and it got me to thinking: What does Batman have in common with great marketers? Surprisingly, the comparisons are many, and the lessons learned, valuable:
HAVE AN UNMISTAKABLE IDENTITY. No one in Gotham confuses the Batman for the Joker. They instantly recognize his greatness when he descends on the crime scene. His reputation precedes him, and it means something when he shows up to the party. This is not your run-of-the-mill crime fighter. Nor should you be a run-of-the-mill player in your industry. Be known for something. Leave a mark, all your own.
CARRY A UTILITY BELT. Don’t be a one-trick pony. A utility belt will have just the right gadget for any occasion, and so should your marketing arsenal. Marketing should be a blend of tactics and strategies, penetrating a variety of media, and speaking to potentially disparate audiences. And don’t be distracted by the latest technologies while abandoning the tried and true. Social media, for example, has been a marketing game-changer; but such campaigns should complement—not replace!—traditional disciplines such as public relations, advertising and direct outreach. Though Batman has outfitted his utility belt with the latest technological gadgetry, I’m pretty sure he still carries with him the Bat Shark Repellent.
KNOW THINE ENEMY. Batman spends countless hours trying to get into the heads of his super-villain adversaries. While your competitors may not be enemies, per se, they do pose a risk to your growth and success. Conduct an audit of their identities and marketing strategies. Follow their marketing efforts, via RSS feeds and search strings. Get to know who they’re talking to, and how. This will not only help you keep tabs on the competition, but it may shape your direction in how you reach out to similar audiences as well.
OWN YOUR BAT CAVE. Batman does his best work in the safety of his home base. There’s a lot of chaos in Gotham, but his bat cave is a place that he owns, he controls, and he uses to flesh out strategy and objectives. Your website (and your blog) are your home base. The chaos in Gotham is mirrored by that in the online world. Social networks, online communities, and exponentially growing content online create clutter and confusion that is impossible to wade through. Use these “outposts” of chaos to try to bring traffic back to your home base, where you can engage your audiences on your own turf.
CONQUER YOUR FEARS. Bruce Wayne has an irrational fear of bats, but he embraced that fear, conquered it, and now uses it against his enemies. Too many companies are afraid to try anything new when it comes to marketing. They are afraid of big ideas and taking risks. That leaves them with tactics devoid of creative strategy. They see a problem and employ a safe tactic against it. “We need to sell more widgets! Let’s buy an ad in Widgets Monthly!” That’s applying a tactic (and a safe one) against a problem—not creatively solving the problem. Batman doesn’t always use the Bat lasso to solve every problem. Nor should you.
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THE BAT SIGNAL. If you’re not constantly monitoring online conversations, traditional media, industry trade shows, etc., you will have no accurate perception regarding point of need. The Bat Signal may be shining bright, with your potential customers expressing a real need for your service or product, but if you’re not there to see it, it’s just another missed opportunity.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP. Even Batman has his Robin…and his Superfriends. You have your networks—online and in the real world. Build them. Nurture the relationships. Then leverage them when the time is right…for references, to find employment candidates, for vendor suggestions, to refer business back and forth…the list goes on and on. But you can do none of it if you’re not building your networks and maintaining those relationships.
DO GREAT AND IMPORTANT WORK. Saving the world—or even Gotham—is no small task. Batman’s mission is not to “stop littering;” it is to rid the world of evil. What is your marketing mission? To gain market share? To grow your business 5% next year? Think bigger than that. How can your company, product or service be the best in the world? Not in the entire world, but the world in which you operate day-to-day.