Now that HBO’s hit television show Game of Thrones is off the air, we can look back with nostalgia and learn lessons from one of the biggest, most epic small-screen productions ever.
In its prime, the show was bigger than ever, winning dozens of awards, and pulling in millions of viewers every week during the season.
Even now with episodes no longer new but streaming, it's still a force to be reckoned with.
With dragons, zombies, and sword fights- there’s something for everyone!
But this fantasy show is more than just red witches and blind teenage assassins, it is actually quite insightful into human nature. Savvy marketers know how important understanding people can be to building and then selling to their targeted buyer personas. Let’s break down some of the helpful marketing tips you can learn from this epic drama
Beware: spoilers below!
Stop: we warned you!
Even though the shows aren't new anymore if you haven't watched them, you've been warned!
You Can’t Plan Ahead for Everything.
In business, you never know what’s going to happen, and this is explored every episode in Game of Thrones. The good guys aren’t guaranteed to win, and the bad guys won’t necessarily die a slow and painful death. In fact, in the Game of Thrones universe, the bad guys often triumph and the good guys often have a pretty bad day. Marketing is full of twists and turns, and sometimes things don’t turn out as expected. Maybe developing your buyer personas showed you that you’ve been marketing to the wrong demographic or a social media post was not well-received by your followers. Whatever it is, be prepared to regroup and reevaluate your inbound marketing strategy whenever necessary.
Don't Be Afraid to Kill Your Darlings.
Stannis Baratheon sure isn't. The front-runner for Father of the Year can definitely teach us lessons about knowing when an idea has reached its end. "That’s the way we've always done it" will destroy your brand. If something needs to be removed from your strategy to move forward, do it.
Get People Talking About You.
Organic conversations about your brand or services can be an inbound marketer's best friend. Daenerys has spent her entire life in exile, yet celebrated warriors like Jorah Mormont and Ser Barristan leave their lives to join her cause. Varys and Tyrion, a rival Lannister, agree to take up her claim to the throne without ever meeting her. She has thousands flock to follow her based on her notoriety alone. Now that is a solid reputation any brand would love to have!
Don’t Focus Too Much on the Big Picture and Ignore Little Whispers.
Let’s talk about the men of the Night’s Watch, shall we? Jon Snow, the eternal good guy, spent all of season five trying to bring the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings together as a larger force against the White Walkers and their Wights. Viewers of the show knew he was right- the White Walkers are a bigger, and more magical, threat. But you can’t erase thousands of years of bad blood overnight, and the men of the Night’s Watch just weren’t having it. Jon focused on the big picture while ignoring the gripes and threats of his men, and it didn’t end well for him.
Don’t ignore criticism you may see on social media networks, even if the complaints aren’t valid. Enough disgruntled customers can cause havoc on your brand, even if you’re in the right. Jon Snow may have been correct about the White Walkers, but that didn’t stop Oly from delivering the final stab to avenge his parents. (Hey, I already warned you about spoilers!)
Winter is Coming.
While you can’t plan ahead for everything, you CAN develop a solid inbound marketing strategy based on research and knowledge. The best brands always innovate, stay active, and plan for the future. Being prepared for the unexpected is essential. Embrace winter and know that it is coming, so when it finally arrives you have your Valyrian steel ready to fight off the Night’s King.
Don’t Get too Comfortable.
In the five seasons Game of Thrones has been on the air, we have witnessed three kings on the throne and several others try, and die, to get there. Let’s just say not very many people in Westeros die of old age. This is an exceptional lesson for companies competing for market share. Made it to number one? Great! But you aren’t done. Your competitors won’t stop trying to usurp your spot up top, so you can’t let go of your marketing efforts once you’re doing well.
No one knows what next for the Game of Thrones characters and their battle to sit on King’s Landing’s most uncomfortable chair. Enjoy the break until season six while you apply the lessons you've learned to your inbound marketing campaign. Except, please, don't learn anything from Ramsey.
Know When it's Time to Call it Quits.
On May 19, 2019 Game of Thrones fans came together one last time to see how the story would wrap up. The final season depicts the culmination of the series' two primary conflicts: the Great War against the Army of the Dead, and the Last War for control of the Iron Throne. The first half of the season involves many of the main characters converging at Winterfell with their armies in an effort to repel the Night King and his army of White Walkers and wights. The second half of the season resumes the war for the throne as Daenerys Targaryen assaults King's Landing in an attempt to unseat Cersei Lannister as the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.
The lesson here is that even though the books aren't done, the story on HBO had run its course. Despite being one of the top shows on TV, Game of Thrones wrapped up instead of living on past its prime. What marketing campaigns can you end today?
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*This article first published in June of 2015. In May of 2019 GoT aired its final episode. We're still fans, and these lessons, including a new one, still hold true today. Article updated January of 2020.