Harry Potter Marketing Lessons

In a post last Friday, we discussed some important marketing lessons that we can learn from the first three books in the Harry Potter series. Now, we’re ready with more insight from books four through seven!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry returns for his fourth year to find that Hogwarts will be hosting the Triwizard Tournament. It’s all fun and games until Harry is thrown right into the middle of the competition, making him the fourth competitor in a tournament meant for three. As the youngest competitor, Harry has to work hard to define strategies that work for him while predicting the strengths of his older opponents.

Marketing Lesson: Know your market. This means knowing your competitors, and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the other companies in your space. It’s always important to know what you’re going to be up against, and how your company fits into the industry. Just as important is to know what your own strengths are and how you can use them. In the wise words of Professor Moody, “Play to your strengths.”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

In the fifth book in the series, Harry learns about the underground resistance against Voldemort and his followers, and the Ministry bans the use of wands in the Defense Against the Dark Arts class. When the students realize how unprepared they’ll be in a real duel, they decide to found Dumbledore’s Army, a group devoted to learning how to use real spells in defensive situations.

Marketing Lesson: Know how to use the tools at your disposal. The same motives that spurred the formation of Dumbledore’s Army should propel your marketing. Having all the practical knowledge in the world is useless if you don’t know how to apply it. Marketing tools like email marketing systems, social media, and marketing automation are there to help you, so make sure you actually learn how to use them. That means going beyond just “reading the instructions” to actually using the tools and understanding how they work.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

With Dumbledore’s tutelage, Harry discovers the existence of horcruxes, which could represent a way to finally destroy Voldemort. The hunt for horcruxes leads Harry through distant memories of Voldemort’s past, which give him valuable clues that could help him defeat his nemesis.

Marketing Lesson: Find your competitor’s weakness(es). This comes with knowing your market and understanding your competition. Just as Harry identifies that Voldemort’s weakness is his dependence on horcruxes, you should be able to identify what your competitors aren’t doing well, and how you can do it better. Chances are, their weakness represents an opportunity for you to step in and satisfy customer or prospect needs that aren’t being met.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry decides to forego his final year at Hogwarts to continue the hunt for horcruxes. His quest to destroy Voldemort also leads him to the deathly hallows. Talk about an added complication. Now, Harry has to decide which will give him a better chance of beating Voldemort — horcruxes, or the glory and power of the deathly hallows?

Marketing Lesson: Prioritize. Know which tasks are most important to your marketing efforts and put those first. Don’t get sidetracked by flashy alternatives (like the deathly hallows) that will derail you from what actually works. For example, although it may be a lot of fun to write about social media, content that is focused on your audience’s needs may have to take precedence. As a marketer, prioritizing doesn’t mean you should be afraid to take risks; it just means that you shouldn’t forget about those trusty, reliable horcruxes.

What other parallels can you draw between Harry Potter and marketing? Let us know in the comments below!

Jenna Hanington

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