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26th November 2018

Fantastic Marketing (And Where to Find it) - J.K. Rowling's Marketing Wisdom

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The second edition in the Harry Potter prequel trilogy, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, has just finished its first full week in cinemas across the world. We’re expecting it to be another mega-grossing success, not least for the creator of the Wizarding World and one of the United Kingdom’s greatest modern exports, author J.K. Rowling.

From the story of The Boy Who Lived and its various spin-offs, Rowling has forged a cultural empire spanning literature, film, theatre and video games.

You might not normally look to beloved children’s authors for marketing inspiration, but someone who first burst into public consciousness back in 1995 and remains an inspiration to millions must be doing something right.

However small your business, if you want to leave your mark on your field then there are 3 core tactics to take away from Rowling’s meteoric rise and rise.

1. Build a distinctive brand identity

Rowling’s Wizarding World has its own iconic visual and verbal associations. Harry Potter’s lightning scar is probably as well-recognised as the Big Mac, and everyone knows the word Quidditch (even if they can’t quite fathom the rules).

One reason why even just the combination of red and gold colours on a scarf immediately evokes the Potter brand is the considerable oversight and creative control Rowling maintained over the franchising process in the wake of the first films.

She turned down any product deals that deviated from her vision, achieving a consistent, striking brand identity.

You might not have to deal with franchising deals yourself, but as a local business, you can easily build a visual signature that will stick in customers’ minds and increase your brand awareness. Get someone to design a clear and memorable logo and come up with a consistent colour scheme to use across your website and inside your shop.

2. Use content to build emotional investment

Harry Potter fans are noted for their devotion to the franchise and its backstory. I’m sure we all remember the gargantuan queues outside bookshops around the world whenever Rowling dropped a new instalment!

Such an emotionally involved customer base is like manna from heaven for any marketer, and Rowling has certainly made the most of it.

In 2012, long after drawing the series to a close, Rowling launched a website called Pottermore, now the global digital publisher of all HP content, including the original books.

Pottermore regularly hosts new content written by Rowling herself. This allows the brand story to keep developing, but more importantly, it allows Rowling to keep her followers excited by teasing them with new updates to the original plot.

Whether you have an army of millennial magic fans behind you or not, you can still build a digital content strategy of your own by blogging. Try out our beginner’s guide to content marketing to get to grips with what a publishing strategy could do for you.

3. Use social media with flair

J.K. Rowling, as you’d expect from her level of fame, is one of the most followed people on Twitter, with 14.5 million followers. She’s also one of the site’s most prolific celebrity users.

Rowling has a uniquely engaging knack for social media, using the characters and events of her books to frame discussions of her own political perspectives, cracking jokes and even occasionally expanding the Potter canon with new character developments and plot points.

That last tendency is probably the most well-known feature of Rowling’s Twitter usage, with her myriad additions to the original text ranging from revelations about Uncle Vernon’s love for Top Gear to the role of Native American magic in the founding of Hogwarts.

Each new pronouncement tends to generate a flurry of discussion and controversy, which keeps the Potter franchise at the front of people’s minds 23 years on from the first book.

Is your business’s Facebook or Twitter page feeling a bit unloved? Learn how to make like Rowling and spark your customers’ conversation with our lowdown on boosting your social media engagement.

Marketing isn’t magic. You don’t need an Ollivander wand to levitate your sales figures; you just need the kind of skill and tenacity that J.K. Rowling has in spades.

You’re probably not trying to sell a box office sensation, but every business has its own story to tell, so it's worth taking a leaf out of the Rowling playbook when planning your next marketing campaign.

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