3 Strategic Marketing Lessons From Game of Thrones

3 Strategic Marketing Lessons From Game of Thrones

It’s that time again… because the Game of Thrones Season 5 premier was an absolute jaw-dropper. If you couldn’t tell already, I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan. I’m also passionate about marketing and sales, and while watching TV as always, I couldn’t help but draw a few connections between the mistakes made by GOT characters and the pain points I discuss with marketers on a daily basis. Here are a few GOT takeaways to inspire your marketing strategy.

1. The Content Game Is Never Won

Let’s start with Oberyn. Fans loved his passion, fiery character, intelligence, and compassion. But Oberyn’s Achilles heel was his obsession with vengeance and desire to revel in it. If you read the books, you know that Oberyn poisoned the blade he used to stab The Mountain, but Oberyn’s overconfidence and obsession with getting the last word were his ultimate downfall. And in today’s digital marketing landscape, trying to get the last word is an exercise in futility.

IMAGE VIA HBO

Given the diverse number of channels marketers use to engage their audience, the content game is never won. While in a marketing fantasy-land it might be nice to face-off against your competition in a definitive trial by combat, in the real-world marketing realm, no one ever gets the last word. Some marketers will have that one great piece of viral content and think, “Wow! Now I can relax a little, because I’ve definitely hit my KPIs with this one.”

WRONG. Don’t be like Oberyn and revel in the glory of your marketing win prematurely, or you may end up losing the game completely.

2. The Best Defense Is A Good Offense

Now let’s move to the North and talk about Jon Snow and The Wall. Ser Allister ignored Jon Snow’s warnings about the Wildlings, and ultimately had to swallow his pride and confess that they should have sealed the tunnel when they had the chance. Unfortunately, many marketers have followed in Ser Allister’s footsteps; according to Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 B2C and B2B Content Marketing Reports, LESS THAN HALF OF ALL MARKETERS HAVE A DOCUMENTED CONTENT STRATEGY.

IMAGE VIA HBO

You can’t think that the Wildlings won’t challenge you. Doubts and hesitation will negatively impact your execution, so stay alert, aware, and BE PROACTIVE! Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to attack by overlooking the basics. SEO, Social Media, Blogging, Paid Media — all of it matters. If you drop the ball on one channel, someone else is already poised and ready to take over your share of voice — or in this case, bring down the castle.

3. Never Underestimate Your Competition

Finally, there’s Tyrion. You didn’t think he had it in him, did you? Especially on Father’s Day…

IMAGE VIA HBO

We’ve always known Tyrion to be one of the smartest Lannisters in the bunch, but we didn’t know what he was capable of until the Season 4 finale. For marketers, Tyrion’s ultimate coup is a reminder to be wary of your entire competitive landscape, not simply your number one competitor. Maybe you’ve underestimated a smaller company, or saw a lesser-known brand start an aggressive paid ad campaign and decided that it wasn’t a threat. How did that work for you?

Well, we know how it ended for Tywin. He was so busy worrying about Cersei, Stannis Baratheon, and the ever-changing politics of the Seven Kingdoms that he didn’t anticipate a threat to his survival coming from right underneath his nose.

The expansive Game of Thrones plot lines are a reminder to look at the entire competitive landscape and know where you stand. Remember, recklessness and timidity never won anyone the throne.

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