While few (read: any) of us have the advertising budget that Marvel has for blockbuster movies like Captain America, we can all take a lesson or two from their innovative web-based marketing campaign.
Marvel got off to a good start here, premiering the film’s first teaser trailer during the Super Bowl back in February. The same day, they released the first of 8 digital comic book stories that told characters’ backstories, right up to the beginning of the film. These were available through the Marvel website or via their iPad app.
Takeaway: Buy a Super Bowl commercial. Barring that, give your fans some unique content that ties into whatever big you’ve got coming up: a new product launch, a renovation of your store, a special offer, or what have you. By engaging them early and keeping them coming back for more, Marvel effectively built buzz beyond what could be accomplished through traditional media channels.
Be the Source
Marvel’s website became THE place for all things Captain America—news, photos from the set, video clips, posters—they even livestreamed the red-carpet premiere of the film. Marvel also provided fan forums where people could interact with other fans to discuss the film, the comics, and even how they could help spread the word about Captain America through their social media accounts.
Takeaway: Once you’ve built buzz, keep it going, and get people coming to your site for more information. The fact is, you are trying to sell…well, whatever it is you’re trying to sell. The more traffic you can drive to your web site, the more sales you will likely see. By positioning yourself as the most important place on the Web for X, you’ll see a big bump in traffic.
Cast a Wider Net
Marvel made good use of their Facebook page for the film, but they didn’t give too much away there. Like the fan forums, it was a place for people to interact, as well as to see a taste of some cool stuff, but Marvel saved the real meat for their website. Remember, this is what social media marketing is for. You don’t make sales on Facebook; you make sales on your website.
Takeaway: Facebook and Twitter are great tools to build buzz and keep it going, but the bottom line is conversions. Social media is a way to draw people in to your website or store. It’s not a substitute.
Marvel partnered with entertainment check-in site GetGlue to offer unique content in the form of exclusive stickers, which fans could gain access to by checking in from the theater.
Takeaway: Look through your business contacts, or branch out and make new ones. There are a lot of opportunities in marketing to team up with other companies. The key is to find one that will enhance the unique benefit that you provide consumers and not overshadow or detract from what you are trying to do.
One Final Takeaway
Marvel targeted the bulk of their content to existing fans of the Marvel universe, and counted heavily on them to spread excitement about the film organically. Marvel understands that marketing in the age of social media is changing—that the word of a friend carries a lot more weight than being blasted by ads 24/7. So know your target audience, know your existing fan base, and get them to become your stealth marketers.