The story of Harry Potter on the printed page and big screen is just as magical as the story of Harry Potter from a marketing and branding
perspective, and it’s one that all marketers and business owners can learn from.
Here are five key elements that helped drive the success of the Harry Potter brand, which small business owners can implement, too. While your level of success might not reach the multi-
billion dollar brand value that Harry Potter has reached, by applying these strategies to your marketing plan, you’ll position yourself for long-term, sustainable business growth.
1. A good product: Clever marketing and savvy business practices can only sell a bad
product to a limited extent. If
consumers’ expectations aren’t met, repeat purchases dwindle and word-of-mouth marketing comes to a screeching halt. At its core, the Harry Potter books were good and consistently met consumers’ expectations. Your product has to do the same thing or it will fail.
2. Emotional involvement: A product, business or brand cannot become a phenomenon like Harry Potter without the emotional
involvement of consumers
driving it to that status. To achieve consumer emotional involvement in your own product, business or brand, you need to have a good product that meets their needs consistently, and that product needs to deliver what I call the “3 Ss” of customer loyalty.
3. Word-of-mouth marketing and an online buzz: Ask 100 people how they first heard about Harry Potter and the vast majority of them (if not all of them) will tell you they heard about Harry Potter from another person, such as a family member, friend or
colleague. Leveraging the power of the Internet as a catalyst to build word-of-mouth marketing is critical if you want to achieve similar success.
4. Tease and perpetual marketing: By leaving consumers wanting more, each marketing tactic implemented to promote that brand (directly or indirectly) can build upon the one before it until the anticipation and buzz reaches a fever pitch.
Leaking bits and pieces of infor-mation, holding promotional events and contests and creating a veil of secrecy around the next product to launch related to a brand can drive the word-of-mouth marketing necessary to boost sales to the highest level possible.
5. The brand consistency and restraint: Once customers become loyal to a brand and develop an emotional connection to it, it is critical that nothing is done to damage the brand or betray consumers’ loyalties to it. In other words, you must meet consumer expectations in every branded interaction or they’ll be confused and turn away from your brand in search of one that does consistently meet their expectations. When faced with opportunities to extend the Harry Potter brand, J.K. Rowling exercised restraint in an effort to protect the brand she loved. She said no to merchandise pitches and refused to allow Harry Potter to appear on a McDonald’s Happy Meal. You need to use the same consistency and restraint in your own marketing initiatives to ensure your brand promise doesn’t waver in consumers’ minds.
Harry Potter is the perfect example of a fundamental branding truth: consumers build brands, not companies. Marketers might nudge consumers in a desired direction, but at the end of the day, it’s the consumers who experience a brand, make it their own, develop emotional involvement with it, become loyal to it, and advocate it who are actually responsible for the success or failure of a brand. Let them experience your brand, and you’ll open the doors to the potential success known to leading brands like Harry Potter.