This past year, Star Wars relaunched and expanded with the release of The Force Awakens. It received rave reviews from fans and critics alike. But why all the excitement? Why has a franchise that began over 40 years ago endured and even grown in it's fan base? And how can we as business owners learn to leverage the same techniques and strategies that have allowed Star Wars to become a living breathing brand that has grown beyond the vision on the man who started it all; George Lucas.
Star Wars Marketing Lessons
We're going to take a look not only at things that the creators of Star Wars did on purpose, but what happened among the community of fans that made it grow.
1. George Lucas (and J. J. Abrams) Knew Who The Movies Were For – Fans
Star Wars didn't set out to be a movie for everyone, yet it is a movie that almost everyone knows about? Why? The team behind the first movie didn't know what would happen beyond the first one. They set out to create the very best Science fiction adventure that they could. They set out to appeal to a very specific target audience.
In turn, those raving fans told others, even those who weren't sci-fi fans, how great the movie was and the audience grew.
Lesson 1: Target your Ideal client and grow your “fan base” and they will be your “evangelists.”
2. The Movies Are All About The Story (well, that's debatable…)
Lesson 2: Tell stories in your marketing to engage your audience emotionally.
People connect with stories.In marketing, the characters are your clients, and the plot is how you can solve their problem. No matter what kind of marketing you are putting out, try to think of a way to make a story out of it. Even if the story is only expressed in a single image, think about what the story behind that image might be and how it might best connect with your target audience.
3. Star Wars Was (rather is) Unforgettable
And it didn't stop there. Even though through the movies many planets, ships, and civilizations are visited, there is a “feel” that they all belong to the same fabric, the same “universe.”
Lesson 3: Make your marketing unique, memorable and consistent.
Whether you are publishing a blog post, a print ad, or creating a video, it should be both memorable and instantly identifiable as yours. Use the same fonts and designs in all your pieces. Keep the same color scheme. Find a style that you enjoy and that speaks to your audience and stick with it!
4. Star Wars Engaged The Audience, Both On Screen and Off
They also kept creating more questions than they answered in anticipation of the release of each film, perhaps even more so with the latest: The Force Awakens.
Lesson 4: Keep your audience engaged with you and your brand.
You need to engage with your audience where they are and be open and available. In the era of social media, this means being present and responsive on social media. First, when you share a post, make sure it is something that will encourage conversations to happen. Second, be part of that conversation through comments and replies on social media. Third, repeat. Take the responses to previous posts as a guide on the kinds of posts to use in the future. Mention who gave you the idea on the next post, too.
5. They Took Risks and Broke New Ground
Not only do the characters in the Star Wars universe risk their lives to save the universe, but those who made the movies took risks in trying new techniques that had never been done before. Luke leaves everything he knows to follow Obi-Wan and learn the ways of the force. Han leaves the only life he ever knew to join the rag-tag band of the Rebellion.
In the production of the movies, especially the original trilogy, George Lucas pushed ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) to do things no film had ever done before. In the Original Star Wars, Lucas and ILM were one of the pioneers of “motion control” or using computers to animate cameras and models in a coordinated, repeatable fashion. This technology is what allowed the X-Wings, Millennium Falcon and other ships to fly past the camera while the camera panned to follow. And creating the explosion of the Death Star that appeared to happen in zero gravity was no small feat, either.
Lesson 5: Take Risks to try new things
With current technology, anyone with a smart phone, a computer and internet access can create special effects that are as good as – or sometimes better – than the effects from the original Star Wars, but as we learned in Lesson 2, great movies – and thus great content marketing, are about more than whizz-bang-wow, they need story. But, with that being said, and all these lessons in mind, don't be afraid to break new ground and try new things that you – or anyone for that matter – has never tried before. Which leads us to: