4 Marketing Lessons Learned from Game of Thrones

Alyssa Adkins
Alyssa Adkins Integrated Digital Marketing Intern, SyneCore Tech

Posted on June 27th 2014

4 Marketing Lessons Learned from Game of Thrones

Marketing Lessons Game of ThronesThe June 15, season four finale of Game of Thrones has passed. As many news sources have reported, season four of Game of Thrones, adapted from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice epic fantasy novels, beat out The Sopranos viewing figures to take the crown for HBO’s most popular drama series to date.    

Season five isn’t scheduled to air until spring 2015, leaving my heart in a slimy slump.

I’ve got ten (!!!) months to anticipate the gore, lust and drunken celebrations season five will bring, so, in an attempt to satisfy my GOT obsessions, I’ve attempted to apply some of the many lessons GOT has taught us all to the ever-changing marketing industry. (And if you're not caught up with Season Four, be aware that there are spoilers below!)

Really. Martin left us with some good ‘lil nuggets. Take a gander:

Grit, Hustle and Scavenging Will Get you Further Than Your Name

It’s common in the series for characters to claim their right to the throne based on birthrights, royal bloodlines and a fancy last name. But, as season four revealed, perhaps a little grit, hustle and scavenging can get you further. 

Lord Petyr Baelish, or Littlefinger as he is affectionately (or perhaps mockingly?) called, does not have a direct, royal tie to any throne in Westeros.

But, he managed to hustle his way into the position of Master of Coin in King’s Landing, and, with some stealthy moves, including the assassination of King Joffrey, he has claimed the position of Lord Protector of the Vale, with eyes set on a bigger throne in the future. 

Basically, our Littlefinger be doing some werk.

Likewise, as my colleague Chris Horton has previously written, our integrated digital marketing economy waits for no one. It cares not if you are young or old, affluent or wanting, or what have you. Rather, our integrated digital marketing economy requires talent to prove and re-prove itself daily. 

No relying on royal bloodlines, fancy degrees or likewise in this industry. 

You Must Risk in Order to Gain

In the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die. The Game doesn’t leave much room for living comfortably and peacefully in a castle nestled among some pretty rolling hills, as majestic and lovely as that sounds. But, if you refuse to play at all, you’re likely to starve to death or have your throat slit by someone trying to win the Game. (Example: the farmer in Riverlands, who, after sharing a hot meal and a place to sleep, was attacked by the Hound. Brutal.)

Perhaps the lives of marketers aren’t as harsh as those of our GOT friends, but success in the marketing industry does, indeed, require some risk.

Marketing best practices are a strong, solid baseline, but simply producing a blog is not enough nor is making a couple of sales calls gonna get the job done. Rather, think big. Do big. And when you fail (because risk does not come without failure), do it hard and fast. Then, learn and move on.

Just remember: don’t take that risk without your sword, err, sorry, your wit, imagination and sharpest marketing tools.

Don’t Be a Pompous, Sadistic Ass

King Joffrey was the evilest, slimiest king that the Seven Kingdoms ever did see. Tyrion Lannister summarizes the young king, his nephew, with this warm-and-fuzzy sentiment: “We’ve had vicious kings, and we’ve had idiot kings, but I don’t know if we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious idiot for a king!” 

Preach it, Tyrion.

Luckily, for both the Seven Kingdom’s sake and our own, King Joffrey got the boot in season four, dying a gruesome death by way of poison - at his wedding feast, no less. Ouch.

What does Joffrey teach us? Don’t be a pompous, sadistic ass to your consumers. Don’t lie. Aim to please. Be nice.

Strive for a Dynamic, Multi-Faceted Understanding of Your Subjects Consumers. 

Daenerys Targaryen, “Mother of Dragons,” got business done this season, but, in the process, she also learned that her subjects are neither all evil nor all good. After liberating the slaves and ordering the deaths of 163 former Great Masters at Meereen, Daenerys learns that perhaps her quest for justice was a bit too hasty and that not all of the Great Masters were as cruel as she initially thought.

Like Daenerys’ new subjects, today’s digital consumers are not so easily classified. They have desires, dreams, habits, goals and passions that aren’t necessarily revealed by their DOB, occupation and income level. In order to understand your consumer more fully, consider collecting and analyzing permission-based, first-party login data.

As reported by Econsultancy, login data “ties all consumer activity back to a single user profile across touchpoints, giving brands the ability to bridge channels and devices with more cohesive, relevant experiences.” Coupled with the emerging Internet of Things, these new technologies provide you the opportunity to do as Daenerys does: understand and be sensitive to the unique, individual lifestyle of your consumers.

And be a boss-ass b****.

There you have it: four marketing lessons learned from Game of Thrones. I knew those hours of gore, lust and drunkenness were good for something.

Image courtesy of MoviePilot.

Alyssa Adkins

Alyssa Adkins

Integrated Digital Marketing Intern, SyneCore Tech

Alyssa is a junior at the University of St. Thomas pursuing a double major in Communications & Journalism and English, which allows her to do two things she loves: writing and talking about writing. She is excited to be spending the summer as an integrated digital marketing intern at the Minneapolis-based agency SyneCore Tech, where she hopes to continue to learn about this crazy, little digital space we've created. When not writing a blog post or crafting a cheeky tweet, you can find Alyssa cheering on a good 'ole hockey fight or in a headstand on her yoga mat. 

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