What can Boardwalk Empire teach you about marketing?

I confess.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit this but I’m addicted to a television show.  To Boardwalk Empire.  (Which is sort of creepy, but that’s another story…)

lips-that-touch-liquorThe series is set during Prohibition years.  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, the government actually outlawed alcohol during the years between 1920 and 1933. 

Yup, Prohibition made it against the law to manufacture, transport and sell alcoholic beverages.  

Which, of course, led to rampant black market sales of beer, wine and liquor. 

Nukky Thompson, the central character in Boardwalk Empire, is one of the key players in that black market world of buying and selling liquor.  What makes Nukky’s life difficult is not selling liquor– it’s finding enough of it to sell!

In other words, the demand for his product exceeded the supply.  Marketing was a breeze.

That’s a nice problem to have.  Wouldn’t you like to have that problem?

So here’s my question:  what needs to happen in your business to make marketing a breeze?

Marketing isn’t just about advertising or promoting your product or service.  Marketing is about knowing your target market so well, so thoroughly, so deeply, so completely, that customers or clients are drawn to what you have. 

It wasn’t cheap prices driving the demand for the liquor Nukky Thompson could supply.  Prices were higher! 

Scarcity creates attraction.  The demand was created by lack of availability. 

Think about the hordes of people who lined up to buy iPhones.  Yes, grownups standing in line at the mall, holding a ticket with a number for the privilege of buying a phone!  iPhones were cool. 

People stood in line to see the premier of the latest Star Wars or Harry Potter movie.  Why?  Because there are a limited number of seats in the theater.    But couldn’t they just wait till the crowds died down?  Sure, but some people want to be first.

What would make people stand in line to buy what you have to offer? 

The desire to be cool…the desire to be first.  Those desires are called psychographics.  Psychographics is the study of personality, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles. 

What are the values, attitudes, interests and lifestyles, driving the people who want or need your product or service? 

Think about your top customers and ask yourself these questions:

  • What do they really love about your product?
  • What made them decide to buy your product instead of your competitors’?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What are their emotional triggers?
  • What values and attitudes affect their buying decision?
  • Who influences their purchasing decisions?

These are just a few of the questions you’ll need to be able to answer to really understand your customers. 

Marketing isn’t about meeting a need – that’s selling, and there’s nothing wrong with that either.  But marketing is about creating a need – creating demand

Even better, marketing is about anticipating the need.  That’s what Steven Jobs did with the iPhone.  We didn’t know we couldn’t live without that beautiful, sleek screen and those colorful icons.  Jobs anticipated that we wouldn’t be able to live without them once we’d seen them.

Spend a little time analyzing your most likely customers.  Then ask yourself these three questions:   

1)      What can you learn about your customers that will enable you to anticipate what your customers will want or need?

2)      What three small changes can you make that will create more of a demand for what you have so you don’t have to work so hard at selling?

3)      What one or two big changes can you make to anticipate or create the need or demand?

Nukky Thompson also treated his customers very well, which is part of marketing as well.  For those of you who watch the show, I’m not recommending his customer appreciation methods!  For those of you who don’t, I’ll just leave that to your imaginations.

You’ll have to call or email me to let me know what changes you make to create wild demand for what you are marketing. 

But please don’t disturb me on Sunday nights, because I’ll be watching the latest episode of Boardwalk Empire!


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