Hold onto your butts, internet. Tonight, the much anticipated season two of Stranger Things drops on Netflix, and we’re also feeling the hype. We’re diving into season two with plenty of unanswered questions left over from last year. What’s the deal with Will? What is the sheriff up to? Will anyone start giving a shit that Barb was murdered by an inter-dimensional monster? No?
We wanted to take this cultural phenomenon as an opportunity to learn something about what we do. More specifically, what can you learn about marketing from the lessons of Stranger Things? Each member of the CleverFunnel team has weighed in. Let’s take a look.
Chris: Don’t be a Barb.
Barb is the epitome of a wet blanket. Nancy wants to go have fun and hang out with her super cute new boyfriend, but Barb was there to tell her no. We shouldn’t! We can’t! We’ll get in trouble!
Sound familiar? It’s what we hear from almost every traditional marketer we encounter. You can’t use that creative with that copy! You can’t be aggressive in how you create messages for this product. We shouldn’t! We can’t! We’ll get in trouble.
As Barb finds out, there is a penalty for always being the person who says NO to new and innovative ideas. She and all other wet blankets are doomed to be eaten by mythical creatures who can smell wussiness. On this point, I think we can all agree.
As a counterpoint, let’s take a look at Nancy. Sure, she’s a bit promiscuous, but she’s out there trying new things! She’s taking chances and living life! What happens to Nancy? Probably some severe PTSD and perhaps difficult conversations with some family planning professionals, but other than that, she’s fine! She teaches us a valuable lesson. No one is going to snatch you into Upside Down for trying something new! There is no Kracken in the world of customer acquisition and trying something new can sometimes feel pretty good!
We’re sorry Barb had to die, but it’s a fantastic metaphor of how you should treat your wet blankets.
Max: Imagination is a powerful tool, so play more D&D.
Consider for a moment the game of Dungeons and Dragons. There is no story except the one you create. There is no solution except for the one your adventuring party devices.
Your path is blocked by a lumbering cave troll. It appears distracted by a kobold or goblin that it has made its dinner. Does your daring rogue sneak around and take the beast by surprise? Does your spellsword try to charm the creature into letting you pass? Does your barbarian lead the charge and cut the monster to pieces, safety be damned?
In Stranger Things, much of the success the boys’ experience is a direct result of the lessons they learned from D&D – their camaraderie, their loyalty, but most importantly, their ingenuity and problem-solving. This is the lesson we can take with us to the marketing realm. Oftentimes, the path to marketing success is not a conventional one and requires a bit more creative thinking. And sometimes, your best ideas come at the end of a roll of the dice.
Bianca: Being siloed gets old, and causes bloody noses.
Move shit with your mind one time, and that might be all you are ever asked to do again. That’s no fun, right? Having to bend forks, and levitate objects on command? Sure it’s cool at first, but eventually, it’s boring. Not to mention the bloody nose and headaches that come from having to focus on one task over and over again. That’s kind of similar to when you hire one person to do a siloed job in your marketing strategy. If they have to do the same thing over and over again, they are going to get bored. So bored that they might bust out of your testing facility and run away to join a gang of ragtag kids looking to find their friend Will.
So, what can you do to prevent this? First and foremost, never underestimate your marketing team. Who you hired are more than likely capable of far more than bending forks and levitating shit on command. They might be able to do more than the PPC or Social Media role you hired them for. Let your team take more ownership, and if you find gaps in your strategy, you should re-evaluate. Re-evaluation might lead to looking for outside resources, just like how Eleven busted out of that facility and joined a team to help find Will. In doing so, they combined her existing skills with theirs to achieve success, which should be the underlying goal for all successful marketing campaigns.
But of course, if you have someone that can bend forks and levitate shit on your marketing team, you should probably find a way to keep them at your company. Might I suggest an endless supply of Eggos?
Ivan: Good branding can help you succeed, even when people don’t know what you’re about.
As with the show, companies spend a ton of time and energy into creating branding that stands out and gets remembered, even when people only have a vague idea of what they do. A good example of this might be HubSpot or Marketo.
In the world of marketing, you probably have seen or heard of HubSpot or Marketo. Most of us know they’re marketing automation platforms, however, there are plenty of people who have only ever read some of their articles which have nothing to do with automation, or maybe they have just heard of them from a friend or colleague. They don’t know what these companies actually do. They may not know the product, but they certainly know and remember the name. Sometimes that all you need to gain new customers.
Luke: Geeks always win.
Sure, they might get made fun of, tripped, and called names, but isn’t it worth it to not pee your pants in school and save Hawking in the end? Being a geek means disregarding conventions and taking a super nerdy interest in science. In the marketing case, testing and analytics, while not the most glamorous of tasks, is what’s going to put you ahead in the end. Knowing more than the competition about your market and your customers beats being able to write a clever tagline nine times out of ten.
Some good, nerdy questions to ask yourself:
- What’s the marketing version of an isolation tank? i.e: What can you use to see farther than anyone else and talk to the other side?
- Why are all your compasses wrong? If all your normal indicators are not pointing to what you believe to be true north, what mysterious force is moving the needles?
- Should I be studying up on Many-Worlds Theory and transdimensional tesseracts? Definitely. You never know when random knowledge is going to apply to your situation. Thanks for the awesome paper-plate analogy, Mr. Clark.
Lisa: Never fuck with a girl that can move shit with her mind.
While this has nothing to do with marketing, we think this is a good rule to live by. Any questions?
All images and gifs courtesy of Netflix.