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3 Jedi mind tricks for small business marketing

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SPOILER ALERT!!

If you haven’t seen Star Wars Episode 7 stop reading now, go see it, come back and read this blog post.

You've been warned....

Like many, I’m a big Star Wars fan, and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. But when I had some time to think without being bombarded by lasers and light sabers, I realized something. The characters and plot twists were far from original, and yet we were hooked by the story as if we’d never heard of it before.

Hooked by a familiar story

In the movie, the rebel army blew up a third death star. By now, you would assume that the Empire would have learned from past mistakes and build a super weapon with new security features. But no, the plan was exactly the same, fly through a narrow canyon while facing an unbelievable amount of enemy fire and miraculously thread a torpedo through the eye of a needle to hit the bull’s eye.

Despite its lack of orginality, Star Wars 7 is the most successful movie to date breaking all previous box-office records and this leads us to the first Jedi mind trick of small business marketing.

1. Keep your story simple

We live in an age of information overload where terms like big data and the cloud are part of the zeitgeist. Our biggest challenge is to sort through all the information bombarding us. Our brains only have so much capacity for information, so we naturally prioritize what we pay attention to.

Why is the Star Wars story so popular? It’s both familiar, simple and touches something deep inside us. Author Joseph Campbell mapped what’s known as the Hero’s Journey in his landmark book The Hero With a Thousand Faces. George Lucas drew on Campbell’s work when he wrote Star Wars.

Campbell basically shows that most stories contain a hero who faces a challenge; the hero meets a guide who shows him or her a way forward; the hero is then called to action and this either ends in success or failure that brings about a transformation in the hero.

The Star Wars franchise has Luke Skywalker as its hero. His challenge in the orginal Star Wars was to become a Jedi with Yoda’s guidance. The story doesn’t make my brain hurt trying to figure it out. The formula makes it easy to digest and, ultimately, to buy into.

Similarly, you need to make it easy for your customers to buy into your company’s story by making it simple but compelling and minimizing the amount of thinking they need to do during the buying process.

Clarify your brand position in the market with clear messaging. Explain in simple steps the buying process and show how other customers have successfully used your product. In other words, make the buying process a no-brainer.

2. Map the purchase journey

Every customer is in some way trying to solve a problem that can make them look good with their families, bosses, co-workers or friends. Like Yoda, you need to position your company as your customers’ guide, helping them succeed in solving their challenges.

This starts with understanding the customer purchase journey. Identify all the steps they take in making a decision to buy your product or service. Once you have this journey mapped you can figure out the key moments along the way where your business can offer support. The trick is not to sell but to help. Provide value in a way that builds trust and loyalty.

To get you started with mapping the purchase journey for your business, here’s a framework we developed at BDC. Use this to guide you as you map your own customers’ journey.

3. Build great products and killer customer experiences

Customers now have the power to use social media to rate, comment and flame your business with the flick of a thumb on their phones. Sites like Amazon, HomeStars and TripAdvisor have a lot of clout in influencing buying behaviour.

Star Wars 7 wasn’t original. It remixed an old formula, but it delivered. Yes, the movie benefitted from an enormous marketing budget—for a month everything was Star Wars, including oranges in the supermarket. But if the movie didn’t deliver, it wouldn’t have been a success, regardless of the marketing machine.

I went to see the movie not because of the marketing, but because my Facebook friends were raving about it and sharing pics of their smiling kids leaving the cinema. That’s what hooked me, not the Star Wars oranges.

Market opportunties are changing at the speed of light and your customers have a lot of options. Research shows that 55% of consumers are willing to pay more for a guaranteed good product and experience. There are many marketing automation tools available to manage these relationships. Find the ones that are right for your business and use them to build advocacy and loyalty.

Have you mapped your customers' purchase journey? Did it help clarify your customer experience for you? Do you tell a story with your content? Tell us your marketing Jedi tricks. We love to hear your insights and answer your questions.

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