How Marvel used some basic sales and marketing tactics to be one of the biggest brands on the planet

At the moment, Marvel is one of the biggest franchises in the world. This was something that was unseen about 10 years ago. DC had all the big names. 10 years ago, if you mentioned Hulk, probably very few people in Kenya would know what you are talking about. But if you mentioned Superman, probably everyone would have heard about it. But today, things are very different.

So how did Marvel transform and beat one of the biggest movie franchises in the movie industry? They did not use any complicated sales tactic. They did not invent any new marketing techniques. Instead, they used already established sales techniques that every salesperson in Kenya can adapt.

How it all started

Marvel was on the verge of bankruptcy. So much so that they had to sell some of their most iconic characters like X-Men and Spiderman to keep afloat. They had less star power with their characters compared to DC, who had the likes of Superman and Batman. But today, they are one of the most recognizable brands because of the sales and marketing techniques they used.

Start small and build and grow

Iron Man was not a very big name 10 years ago. In Fact, many people were puzzled when Marvel’s first movie was Ironman. I mean, they have bigger names in their roster like Hulk and Thor. You would think that this would be the first movie they would start with. Instead, they started with Ironman. But in hindsight, we can all see that this was a stroke of genius. Ironman launched the Marvel universe in spectacular fashion.

What was the sales angle, and what do we learn from this move

Marvel wanted to build interest in their brand. Yes, they would have done this in many ways, but by captivating the audience's interest first with a small name(Ironman), people were looking forward to seeing what else they can do with their bigger names. Marvel didn't push for the big sale right away. Instead, they baited the audience, growing attention and attracting new viewers. They used what salespeople call bait and hook because once a client is secured, they overlook many things.

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What did DC do instead?

DC, in contrast, pushed their biggest names first without building any type of interest. Superman! I mean, the first instance you hear the name, you know exactly what you are going to watch; hence the name does the marketing for them. But even with the heavy names, DC did not build any type of interest, and slowly, people realized that Marvel had a much better story.

Build up for the avengers

One of the most anticipated movies of the decade was The Avengers. Marvel hyped it up from the first movie. Slowly but surely, Marvel made us aware that Thanos was coming, he was a big deal, and he was the most powerful villain we had ever seen, without them actually pushing it to our faces. They used their other products/movies to market the final phase 1 movie in glorious effect with end credit cuts and mid-movie easter eggs.

How to build a forgiving audience

Like many companies, not all products are a hit. Some movies like Iron Man 2 and Thor were not as well-received as the rest. However, the audience still forgave the franchise because of their past work and their future plans. This is why creating a brand is so important. You may not do everything right all the time, but you will get through it with the right brand. Marvel has heavily focused on branding, and it drives their sales up even when the product is not as good. Because the audience knows there is a master plan. For a salesperson, this applies as well. Create a connection with the audience; they will be more inclined to forgive you and buy even if the product is not the best.

Also read: Don't be a Blackberry: adapt and learn new skills such as sales to succeed in your career

On the other hand, DC has a disjointed franchise where we do not understand what they are aiming for. DC has the reputation of being dark and growly. For a long time, we thought that this was their thing. However, they released Aquaman, which was fun and not so dark. The released WonderWoman, which went back to its dark nature. People get confused when your branding is not so clear. Even if you produce a few good products, no one really understands the direction you are going.

How to use your big products to push your smaller products

Marvel has seen a lot of success with smaller products like Antman. Sure the movie was good, but how do you build up the interest in the first place for your smaller products? By using your already established products, and this is what Marvel did. People were looking forward to what they have to offer because we already know of their past products.

As a sales and marketing person in Kenya, this is very important. Using your already established products to push for your new products is key for any successful salesperson in Kenya. Again DC did the reverse. They took the individualistic approach, banking on names like superman to grow sales. It did work for a while but not a long-term strategy.

What we learn from marvel as a sales expert

  1. Marvel reminded us of the power of tapping into multiple channels

  2. They reminded us that selling to an existing customer is easier than acquiring a new client

  3. They reminded us of the power of good products over established brands

  4. Not to push for the big sale first, instead, build interest and make the client come for you