What the Hunger Games Can Teach Advisors About Modern Marketing

DJ
Posted by | March 28, 2012

Traditional Marketing Is Dead

You’d think that the most effective way to spread your message would be with advertising. You’ve got control, can budget and these days can even get an ROI calculation. But it’s not.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Most people hate most marketing. These days, leading marketers are mostly focused on getting leverage from their communications. Talk to 1 person, 3 people receive the message. But how do you do that? What is the voodoo that creates viral? It all starts with giving it away…

Doing good for fun and profit

In an excellent article from PopTech on The Science of Spreading The Word, James Fowler makes 10 points about the way that messages spread, based on his research and experience in social science, political science, and network science. Here are a few choice tips from the piece, which is definitely worth the full-read:

1. Good deeds are contagious

We naturally imitate the people around us, we adopt their ideas about appropriate behavior, and we feel what they feel. Acts of charity are no exception. In our 2010 generosity experiment, we showed that every extra dollar of giving in a game designed to measure altruism caused people who saw that giving to donate an extra twenty cents.

3. Messages get amplified when they spread naturally

Our research on get-out-the-vote appeals suggests that the indirect effect of a message on a person’s friends is about three times larger than the direct effect on the person who received the message in the first place. The more you can get people to deliver the message naturally, the greater this multiplier effect will be.

8. Centrality, interest, influence, and influence-ability are all important

A natural implication of network science is that people with more friends and friends of friends are important because they are more “central,” but to maximize contagion, they must be 1) interested in spreading social good, 2) influential, and can persuade others, and 3) influence-able by their friends (they are persuadable).

What I think advisors can learn from the science of contagion is that Inbound Marketing works. Think about marketing like an altruist. Put in some hard work to produce something that truly helps people. Maybe this thing is so good that people would pay for it, but an altruist wouldn’t make them pay. The altruist gives it away for free. Be an altruist…

It’s all about The Hunger Games… and how to persuade on a tiny budget.

Isn’t it kind of scary that in Hollywood $45 million dollars is a relatively tiny marketing budget for a major feature film? Well, it’s true, and that’s how much money Tim Palen was given to promote The Hunger Games, which did opening weekend sales of $153 million, which cracks the top 20 opening weekends OF ALL TIME. So, besides being based on a best-selling trilogy of books, how did Mr. Palen do it? In one sentence…

Using social media and a blizzard of other inexpensive yet effective online techniques [he] pulled off what may be the marketer’s ultimate trick: persuading fans to persuade each other.

And it’s right in line with Mr. Fowler’s third tip on the science of contagion, messages get amplified when they spread naturally. Decentralize the power. Don’t sell yourself. Focus on your influential readers, followers, friends–anyone really– let them persuade their friends that you, and whatever it is that you’re selling, is worth it.

Don’t forget – this takes time

One final thing that you can learn from The Hunger Games marketing team is that this can take time. For them, with their $45 million, the plan started over a year before the release and included teasers, special releases, network exclusives, and more. So be prepared to be in it for the long haul, and, by that reasoning, make your message a slow-burning one.

DJ

DJ

DJ is a freelance writer, hopeful photographer, and social media has-been. He writes to financial advisors about lifehacks, science, technology, business and marketing for Blueleaf, a software that helps create dramatically simpler, more scalable financial advisory businesses. You can find DJ across the web (about.me/djswitz) or you can just follow him on Twitter (@djswitz)!

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