From consistently topping Hollywood blockbusters to producing hit TV shows, there’s no denying that Marvel has come a long way from just being a comic book giant.
But what makes Marvel a true entertainment powerhouse is how its marketing engine generates enough hype for willing viewers and paying moviegoers to push their content, along with the superhero culture, into the mainstream’s loving arms.
Take the sensational marketing for Deadpool—the insane, yet charming Marvel antihero—for example. With a record-shattering opening weekend, the marketing campaign was able to hammer the nail since it understood exactly both the character and story it’s trying to sell. They turned what made this NSFW character different from the superhero archetype into the key narrative of their marketing efforts. Deadpool popped up in billboards, random TV spots, Porn Hub, Tinder, viral videos, and even at the Super Bowl with sisig chimichangas to give away. Ryan Reynold’s Marvel counterpart was everywhere!
Had the marketing targeted the Philippines, we’d probably seen him moonlight as an uber driver, trying his best not to lash out to the Manila traffic.
Of course, Marvel has tons of other marketing success stories. For content marketers, this is a gold mine to seek inspiration from. Just what content marketing techniques can you learn from Marvel so you can be a true marketing hero to your brand and clients? We’re here to the rescue.
Think holistic and long-term.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the sum-total of all interconnected heroes and villains to be portrayed on the big screen up until 2018, and it was the theatrical debut of Iron Man in 2008 that started this universe.
Of course, this plan goes beyond simply creating prequels and sequels to each film. Marvel approaches the big idea with a comprehensive plan for marketing all of its MCU properties together, rather than promoting them individually. The studio makes it clear that each piece of marketing is connected, allowing you to see references to another story—no matter which Marvel film you see. They most notably do this through clues hidden in the post-credits sequences and sometimes, within the movies themselves.
A comprehensive content marketing plan is crucial to achieving your marketing goals. The best plans provide long-term guidance and structure, while still making space for adjustments and improvements down the road. For instance, your blog content should rally the message of your brand, which should then be amplified on your your social media, and so on. They may serve and be tailor-fitted for different audiences, but they ultimately deliver the campaign’s broader purpose. Don’t forget to make room for adjustment and growth, as the ever-evolving digital world will demand you to. Otherwise, your efforts will still be for naught.
Understand your audiences by providing multiple content formats
The beauty of Marvel’s marketing is that it doesn’t serve one medium alone. Although it has its roots in comic books, with comic book readers as its core market, Marvel understands that not everyone can be fans of reading them. Instead, it opened avenues to reach people who might be interested to watch superheroes battle it out with villains. Hence the Marvel films and television spin-offs like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil and Jessica Jones.
In the content marketing world, this means giving your customers more ways to consume your content and to bring in more potential clients. By doing so, you can reach a wider customer base with increased engagements that will potentially lead to more revenue. Make use of social media, blog posts, viral and explainer videos, infographics—anything that can be a source of information and entertainment. Allow your content to take new forms, and witness your client base grow.
Put your money where it counts the most.
Obviously, marketing these huge superhero movies takes a chunk out of Marvel and other stakeholders’ pockets. There are the costly television and radio spots, but the emergence of social media allowed marketers to be extremely creative while still being economical through Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and sponsored stories on premium websites like Buzzfeed. In the end, all these proved to bring about an immersive fan experience—and that means a lot to the Marvel brand!
Marketers often take promotion for granted when it comes to content marketing. Most of them think that they can just let their content take its natural course upon posting. But this shouldn’t be the case because while it’s cheaper compared to traditional marketing and advertising, your content can easily get lost in a sea of similar and unrelated content. Organic reach is a beautiful thing, but a little push wouldn’t hurt. So when creating your content marketing plan, never skip accounting for a budget for content promotion—may it be through social media outlets, paid content, or bloggers.
You don’t have to make use of it all. What matters is how you can create the best experience for your customer, so take the time to think about that.
Be social on social media.
Let’s go back to Deadpool.
Marvel did (and continues to do so!) a pretty hilarious job with this sassy anti-hero’s social media campaign. The Deadpool Movie twitter handle got so into character that people couldn’t be more excited for the film to be released.
Much of the tweets on the account are NSFW, and you probably wouldn’t want to go as over the top with your own social media marketing. But this shows how Marvel was perfectly able to capture the Deadpool brand while making connections with fans that surely left a mark.
Take a cue from Marvel on how to reflect your brand accurately through your tweets, posts, and replies. Don’t be afraid to play with memes, jokes and photos. As long as they stay true to your brand identity, a little fun will go a long way!
We can expect more nuggets of marketing genius from Marvel in the years to come as several more films, TV programs, and of course, comic books are expected to roll out. Let this be a challenge to us marketers to step up our game and heed the heroic call of our clients’ content marketing needs!