6 Things Marketers Can Learn from Horror Movies


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Horror Movie Lessons to Practice in Marketing

Use Humor, Be Authentic, and Engage in Unique Ways

Fall is in the air, and while it’s still over 80 degrees here in Austin, TX, the Clarity Team is in the Halloween spirit. You could probably walk ten feet in any direction at our HQ office and find a bag of assorted Halloween candy. For me, I get in the Halloween spirit by watching scary movies. While these movies tend to be lower budget, have wildly unrealistic plots, and hire actors with mediocre skill to play characters of questionable intelligence, they also offer lessons for marketers.

1. Scream (1996): Learn From Your Competitors

Scream is arguably one of the most iconic horror movies because of how self-aware it is. The film references other horror movies and their villains, and even borrows famous quotes from other classic horror movies, such as Psycho. From the beginning of the movie, the audience is aware of how infatuated the killer is with scary movies. Like the killer in Scream, you should take time to study and learn from your competitors. Study their business model and payments system, when they run deals and promotions, the topics they write about, and the keywords they target. It’s important to note that you should not copy your competitors. Borrow ideas and find original ways to execute them.

2. The Ring (2002): Update or Remake Existing Content For New Audiences

The Ring was remade for American audiences in 2002 after the original Japanese film, Ringu, achieved success in Japan. Unsurprisingly, the Americanized version of the film was also incredibly successful because it kept the same plot and scary moments from the original, but was remade for a new audience. For marketers, there are two lessons here. First, it is always a good idea to update older content, especially content that continually gets a steady flow of traffic. Secondly, you should always consider recycling quality content for new audiences. If you have a blog or article that has received a lot of traffic or is especially helpful, consider elongating it into a whitepaper you can email out to leads you may be nurturing.

3. Paranormal Activity (2007): Be Authentic

Paranormal Activity took a different approach to the standard paranormal horror movie. Instead of the obvious signs of possession (e.g. The Exorcist), Paranormal Activity is incredibly authentic, using realistic actors that look like they could be your neighbors, and handheld cameras to create the seemingly “homemade” content. Fans of Paranormal Activity loved its authenticity and lack of production. Likewise, audiences prefer brands that have a real human voice. There is no need to fancy up your content with unnecessary visuals and robotic language; being genuine is still a key way to get noticed by consumers. The best way to come across as genuine is to speak to what you know, providing content that your (potential) customers will find useful. Being yourself and proving your know-how will really boost the level of trust in your business and products.

4. Halloween (1978): Don’t Let “The End” Be The End

Not including the two remade films, the Halloween franchise consists of eight films, which all include Michael Myers. At the end of the first Halloween film, Michael is shot six times by Dr. Loomis, resulting in him falling from the second-story house onto the lawn. Despite these fatal injuries, Michael is nowhere to be found. For marketers, there are two lessons here. First, do not stop pursing leads just because they have seemingly gone cold. Use marketing automation to nurture leads through drip campaigns until they are ready to buy. Second, though closing deals is typically seen as “the end” goal, be sure to keep communicating with clients after you have made the sale. Maintaining communication is key for keeping clients happy, and they will be more likely to continue working with you in the future, or send more business your way. Research shows that keeping a customer is more lucrative than winning a new one!

5. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): Engage Your Audience in Unique Ways

A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Kruger is one of the most iconic horror movie villains because he pursues his victims in a new and interesting way: in their dreams. Just like how Freddy found a unique way to connect with his audience, so do marketers. Social media is an outlet that allows for personal connection and engagement with your audience. You can also consider using retargeted ads to draw back in consumers who have already viewed your website. Additionally, at trade shows you can hold contests or raffles to entice consumers to come to your booth. Consider hosting events, whether in person or online with a webinar, to establish real human connections with potential customers. Get creative!

6. You’re Next (2011): Humor Makes Things Interesting

You’re Next is probably the least known movie from this list because it’s quite different from other classic slashers. The film is filled with traditional blood and gore, but it is also speckled with bits of humor. The balance between suspenseful moments and funny moments provides the audience the necessary mental break to make the scary moments seem scarier. While the goals of your marketing campaigns probably don’t include scaring your audience, tech-heavy and wordy language can be frightening on its own. Include bits of humor to break up especially dry and technical content. It is also important to know your audience so that you can tailor the content to the reader. If you are trying to reach C-level decision makers, avoid technical content that might only appeal to someone in IT or engineering and instead try and show the business value of the product. Remember that you can be professional (or scary!) and still show some personality.

Clarity Can Help

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