Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know that the last couple of months have brought with them Game of Thrones mania.
For the last six years, the TV show has had the world on the edge of seats, the online theorists working over time and everyone and their mums obsessed with the happenings of Westeros and the doings across the Narrow Sea.
[Image credit: HBO]
Although Game of Thrones is primarily a fantasy story involving direwolves, dragons, beheadings and feuding families, it also provides a number of lessons marketers should take into account.
While we aren't saying you should go all Daenerys and set fire to your competitors - this only really works if they are attacking the city of Meereen - there are definitely a few things your marketing strategy could take from the Starks, Lannisters and Targaryens.
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Best laid plans don't always work out
Guaranteed, if you have a plan in Westeros, someone is going to test it and you probably won't like the outcome.
Whether you're Ned Stark sitting on the Iron Throne, Viserys Targaryen making deals with the Dothraki or Margaery Tyrell trying to escape from the Faith Militant, not being prepared for all eventualities will leave you losing your head, getting covered in melted gold or blown up in a Wildfire explosion.
While it's all well and good having your marketing strategy laid out and ready to launch to a specific timetable, if you can't be flexible and reactive, you won't be as successful as you'd like.
If you leave yourself some wiggle room to ensure that current events, emerging trends and any other occurrences that find their way over The Wall can be dealt with, your strategy is more likely to be a success.
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It can be hard to maintain loyalty
Loyalty in Westeros seems to be quite a fluid term, as most people are willing to stab others in the back at the drop of a hat. You've got the Lannisters turning on the Starks, the Lannisters turning on the Tullys and the Lannisters turning on the Lannisters, all with rather bloody consequences.
It can be a bit like this for marketers - minus the heads on pikes - as ensuring consumers are loyal to a brand can be a bit like fighting hoards of White Walkers. You need to keep them engaged, show them you care and interact with them to maintain their interest.
Winning them over at the beginning is not enough, so your marketing strategy should include steps to retain customers as well as get them to onboard in the first place. Trust us, you don't want a Red Wedding scenario on your hands.
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You need more than a grand gesture
There's no denying that burning your enemies alive with your pet dragons is going to get people's attention, but unless you have the long-term strategy to back this initial impression up, it isn't going to get you very far.
We don't all have an army of Dothraki Screamers around the corner waiting for the right moment to attack, so you should ensure that your strategy can maintain the momentum created by your initial strike.
Ensure you have a plan for how long a campaign is going to run for, which should include social media posts, blogs, videos and anything else that will work with your strategy. Keep the follow-ups varied to maintain engagement and you'll be sailing across the Narrow Sea with an armada ready to reclaim the Iron Throne in no time.
The best option may not be the most obvious
While there are plenty of warriors in Game of Thrones who you know would be great to have on your side, sometimes it is the less obvious route that proves to be the best option. After all, where would Jon Snow be without Samwell Tarly?
He may not look like much of a warrior and might not have been the best addition to the Night's Watch at the start of the show, but he proved his worth when he managed to kill a White Walker.
This just goes to show that it is worth thinking outside of the box in order to make your marketing strategy really stand out. Going down a different route or embracing some ideas that may not look amazing to start with could leave you with a winning strategy that helps you move ahead of your competition.
Just remember, Arya started out as the annoying younger sister but now she's a badass who serves up people pie and is handy with a knife. We bet you didn't see that coming back in season one.
[Image credit: HBO]
Every strategy must have a goal
Everyone in Westeros has a goal in mind that drives them in their action. Cersei wants to protect her children - yes, we know she failed with this, but she gave it a good go what with burning half of King's Landing to the ground - Jon Snow wants to stop the White Walkers and Daenerys wants all of Westeros on their knees.
It is these goals that spur each character onwards and progress the story.
In order to make your strategy truly successful, you need to be clear on what your goals are. Having set targets will help you shape your strategy and allow you to better react to results as a campaign progresses in order to see that it gets you what you want.
If you don't have clear goals in mind, you'll end up like Bran, wandering around the wilderness without many people caring - seriously, what is he doing? This means you risk your marketing strategy having no direction and no power.
Once you take all of these points into account, you should end up with a great marketing strategy that will see you on the Iron Throne in no time. Just be sure that no one manages to kick you off it, we all know how well that goes.
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