While watching the premier of the new season of ’24: Live Another Day’ I realized that I should really be taking lessons from Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland’s character) to improve my marketing strategies. I’m not suggesting torture and violence, but I think his strategic thinking and long term planning is worth closer examination.
WARNING: There are plot spoilers in this article, so if you’re planning on watching the new season of ’24’ you may want to reconsider reading this until you’ve seen what happens.
1. Focus and determination
If you’ve ever seen an episode of ’24’ you know that focus is a non-issue for Jack Bauer. He sets a goal and there is nothing (laws, morals, etc.) that is going to prevent him from reaching that goal.
While his voilent tactics may not be your cup of tea, the general tenacity of the character is certainly something to strive for. In marketing there are always going to be setbacks and tests that don’t achieve the results that you’re hoping for. A huge part of marketing is taking risks, trying new techniques and approaching tasks from new, creative angles. Get creative and submerse yourself in a new social network, advertising platform or humorous creative direction but don’t lose focus on what your primary goal is.
2. Don’t skip the details
Bauer is okay with letting those who are looking for him (he’s considered a terrorist and traitor to the US government) know where he is and is even willing to be captured in order to reach his goals. He realizes that not all aspects of executing a plan are glamorous or enjoyable, but some are necessary evils.
When you have a marketing strategy in place and are running a campaign like all aspects are not going to overwhelm you with joy or spark your creativity. Some marketers will prefer the creative and visual aspects while others may prefer the engagement with customers that can be spurred on by an interactive promotion. Regardless, there are always a few tasks that are unlikely to be considered fun. I’m referring to a process like drafting official rules for sweepstakes. For some, it may not be the most exciting aspect of a marketing campaign but it’s still important and without dedicating the time and resources to those tasks you risk the overall campaign being a failure.
3. Rekindle your relationships
While I wouldn’t consider Jack Bauer to be the friendliest of characters, he does foster strong ties with certain, strategic parties who are always willing to help out. While most of these characters are dead by the time the current season beings, that long-term bond certainly pays off when Chloe O’Brien agrees to help him out again. His freeing her from captivity and torture sessions (though for selfish reasons) goes a long way toward building a mutually beneficial relationship.
Stay in touch with your past colleagues. You never know when someone you worked with in the past may be in a position where you have the opportunity to strike up a strategic partnership again in the future. People switch companies and roles (like Chloe going from government employee to wanted hacker) often enough that it’s near impossible to keep track of. Use tools like LinkedIn, keep your profile up to date and try to communicate regularly with past partners and colleagues.
4. Foster new relationships
Jack is always looking for a new ally. Though he doesn’t really trust anyone, in the season premier he’s immediately reaching out to new character Kate to explain his position and establish common goals which can used to create a new relationship between them.
When you’re trying to build a brand or increase awareness for a website it’s always helpful to identify your counter part at businesses and brands that can help. Many bloggers have discovered that finding others with similar audiences and working together to host group giveaway events allows them to introduce their audience to new users in a mutually beneficial environment. Don’t be afraid to be the first to make a move and reach out to a brand or blog that has a similar audience to your own. When relevant, retweet their content or re-post it on a Facebook page to help get the relationship started; this can help put your brand on their radar.
5. Find creative solutions
Rather than simply calling the CIA or police to warn of an impending terrorist threat, Jack Bauer decides to expose his location, have a firefight with armed CIA agents, escape, let the CIA find him, be taken prisoner, blow an escape route in the CIA’s ceiling, free Chloe, let Chloe go, track Chloe, find Chloe and then ask Chloe’s friends where the terrorist is. It is a bit of a roundabout route to reach his goal of preventing his president’s assassination, but you can’t argue with the creativity and attention to detail that such a plan requires.
When your goals are set but traditional channels and techniques are unlikely to help you achieve those goals, you’ve got to be willing to think creatively. If your goal is to increase your Facebook ‘Likes’ but simply posting content organically is not getting you growth that you need you may have to find a different solution. Could you promote your Facebook Page to your Twitter followers and email subscribers? Can you run a giveaway that requires users to Like your Facebook page? Is paying for Facebook advertising an option? Does your website promote ‘Liking’ your Facebook Page in an optimal way? The direct approach is not always the most effective.
6. Realize consistency is not complacency
Torture, violence and lawlessness are Jack’s staple techniques for achieving goals. They work for him, so he keeps on using them. Over past seasons we have seen Jack try a more diplomatic approach, which shows that he is willing to take risks and add to his skill set when it makes sense, but he doesn’t undersell the importance of maximizing the tried and proven options.
When your business that has historically had success with email marketing they should continue to optimize, innovate and grow that marketing channel. It is important to investigate feasibility and opportunity of new channels but this process should be in conjunction to, not in place of, practices that are proven to work for your brand. Being overwhelmed by shiny, new social networks diverting much attention to too many channels can result in decreased performance for those channels that have been the foundation for your growth in the past.
7. Acclimate to your surroundings
We’ve seen Bauer in L.A. and New York in the past but this is his first foray into stopping terrorism internationally. In London, we see Jack driving on the left, visiting a pub (while searching for a villain) and even taking the Tube at Waterloo Station like a local. As you would expect, he did not pay his fare for the Tube.
What works in your email content or on your blog is not necessarily going to work in a more crowded channel like Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook. Your strategy for each marketing channel (including individual social networks) should vary based on the audience that you are trying to attract there. The mediums available in each channel also play a very important in deciding how to frame your content and marketing messages, including whether it is primarily image or text based. Like Jack not paying his fare, you should try to modify your marketing strategy by channel by don’t lose your brand identity in doing so.