Heroic Promotion: What Marvel Can Teach Us About Memorable Marketing

With Logan now playing in movie theaters and Iron Fist hitting Netflix this weekend, Marvel is about to unleash another lesson in memorable marketing.  Unless you live life without any kind of screen and never set foot in a movie theater, there's every chance that you've encountered some version of the Marvel Comics Universe (MCU) in recent years. marvel marketingMarvel's Memorable Marketing

Ever since Spiderman came close to grossing above the $1 billion mark in 2002, the superhero spin-offs have come thick and fast. From the wildly popular Avengers films to network television series like Agents of SHIELD and, more recently, on-demand originals made for Netflix, Marvel has expanded its brand far beyond its original comic book niche. What does all this have to do with memorable marketing, you ask? Aside from the obvious answer that Marvel is everywhere and almost unavoidable, there are more subtle lessons that marketers in any industry can draw from the Marvel Comics Universe (MCU) and its vice-like grip on public attention. 

The Importance of Aspiration

When you think of your favorite brands, most of them take you to a better place. Nike appeals to our desire for heightened athletic abilities. Apple makes its device owners feel like a member of the luxury tech set. Even Coca-Cola, which essentially sells a sugary liquid that piles on the pounds, successfully positions its product as the key to happiness. Similarly, Marvel inspires its readers and viewers to imagine their abilities on another level, usually through the lens of varied superpowers. Most of its characters are flawed in some way, yet they rise above their issues to become something more. But aspiration isn't limited to multi-national brands and Hollywood productions... The same emotional appeal can apply to local businesses. For example, a small cafe has the ability to make customers feel like savvy insiders, beating off corporate brands to support the local economy. A handyman can quickly build a reputation for repair expertise and help others to aspire to that level of craftsmanship, simply by creating how-to videos and explaining their profession on YouTube. Any brand that can inspire fans and followers to do more by exemplifying a higher standard will tap into the marketing value of aspiration.reach higherAn Eye for Expansion

Marvel rarely rests on its laurels. There is always another series, spin-off, or merchandising opportunity in the pipeline, spread across different characters and adaptations of its established classics. This is one of the many reasons that fans stick with the company's productions, even when they veer away from previous styles or embrace a new format. As mentioned earlier, the company has taken the concept so far that its range is now referred to as a universe! Brands and businesses that stay the same will inevitably stagnate. Keeping an eye on the next chance to branch out, enhance what you offer, or create a new product or service, serves to keep things fresh for customers. What will be your next "superhero" product or service? Where is the next generation of consumers going to gather around what you sell? Brand expansion is also an important way to ensure your business stays competitive in a changing marketplace. Marvel will always be known for its comics, but it's the TV shows, movies, and merchandise that now bring in the big bucks. 

Testing New Trends and Technology

Every time a new Marvel movie comes out, you can be sure it will appear on every screen you own. That's not because the company is releasing its titles on every device at the same time, but rather it's down to smart marketing tie-ins and Marvel's open embrace of technology. If you like to play mobile games, for example, you're going to see the latest superhero swinging into the app store a month or two prior to any silver screen release. You can also expect YouTube ads, content crossovers, and no shortage of influencer marketing campaigns to get people talking about the latest production and products about to hit the market. Businesses don't need to be on every new channel or hire an army of app developers, but it pays to keep up with trends and be willing to get creative with new media.  It doesn't take a comic book fan to appreciate the heroic work of Marvel's marketing department. Beyond getting your brand in front of people in a wide variety of places, the company also teaches us the emotional pull of aspiration marketing, as well as the value of expanding brand favorites and embracing new technology. These are lessons that any marketer can use. How can you apply these lessons to build your brand? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter [search-tag]

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