How the Tactics of Daenerys and Cersei Demonstrate Opposite (But Effective) Digital Marketing Strategies
Warning: Spoilers! If you aren’t caught up on Game of Thrones, you may want to wait before reading this blog. Instead, enjoy this DANCE-OFF!
The title matchup is set, and the main event will soon be underway. Who wins determines the fate of the Seven Kingdoms and who sits on the Iron Throne. More interestingly for business owners, the outcome of Game of Thrones’ final battle will determine once and for all what matters more for achieving digital marketing success: loyalty, or power?
Translating the different political approaches of Daenerys “Stormborn” Targaryen (the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, yada yada) and Cersei Lannister to digital marketing strategies may seem like a bit of a stretch. However, tracking the history of the two biggest contenders for queen of all Westeros and what lead to their current matchup reveals plenty about how different approaches can lead to different types of success.
Namely: Daenerys wins power through the loyalty of her subjects. Though that loyalty may be wavering a bit of late, the fact still stands that every faction in Dany’s conglomerated army was inspired to join her, not forced. Her strategy was slow and organic (she took 5-6 seasons to build her complete army), but highly effective. Businesses that use this approach rely on emotional appeals and likeability over aggressive self-promotion.
Cersei, on the other hand, has been consolidating power and wielding it like a blunt object since day one. Her deep coffers and her “creative” ability to eliminate competitors is the sole reason her children and now she herself have won the regency. Businesses in this category tend to throw their weight around, relying on tantalizing one-time offers and costly marketing blitzes to get people in their doors.
So, when it comes to how you market your business, which one are you? Do money and cutthroat tactics do all the talking? Or do you win hearts and minds to inspire loyalty, playing the long game? And which, ultimately, matters more for winning the true prize: a successful business empire?
What It Means to Be a Daenerys
Ignore, for a second, the fact that in the show Game of Thrones Daenerys is currently facing a whisper campaign against her. What is more important to remember is that her current forces are a coalition of willing and inspired loyalists.
Daenerys won the loyalty of the Unsullied troops by freeing them. She adopted the ways of the horse-loving Dothraki to become recognized as a true Kahleesi rather than just a culture tourist. She risked her own skin and let her heart lead her into a literal bonfire to become the mother of the only three known dragons in the universe. Her abilities persuaded Jon Snow to bend the knee, putting the entire military might of the North at her disposal.
Dany’s hard work is evident through her recent sacrifices. In the battle of the Long Night, her personal military forces suffered the heaviest losses. She’s given up two of her “children,” both in fairly cruel moments (you’re jerks, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss!). Yet her army persists because it believes in her and her vision for the future of Westeros.
In the digital marketing world, this level of deep loyalty is nothing to sneeze at! Research has shown that improving customer retention by 5% can improve profits anywhere from 25% to 95%. Using marketing to keep your existing customers is also typically 5 to 25 times cheaper than trying to earn new customers.
Overall, Dany’s strategy to form a confederation of allies seemed like a long shot. Yet here she is, standing before the gates of King’s Landing, ready to take on perhaps the most cunning ruler it has ever had. Her success shows that underdogs who are patient and persistent have a place in the world, and that being liked by your customers matters.
What It Means to Be a Cersei
Tywin and Tyrion Lannister are lauded as some of the greatest minds to ever grace Westeros, but Cersei Lannister is by far no slouch. She single-handedly manipulated Robert Baratheon’s regime to position her children and her family as the sole rulers of the Seven Kingdoms.
Cersei’s outlasted three kings, including two who were her own children, and two iron-fisted Hand to the Kings: her father and her uncle. She brutally consolidated power by blasting the Sept of Baelor to smithereens. She’s cleverly used the spoils of war to fund a mercenary army, protecting King’s Landing and her claim to the throne. Most of her opponents, save Dany and a handful of Starks, are dead. She even has an undead monstrosity as a personal bodyguard!
While few could claim to have Cersei’s morals, none doubt her power. She is ruthless, calculating, and not afraid to take bold risks if she predicts the outcome weighs in her favor.
In business terms, Cersei is akin to a fast-growing and high-spending “unicorn” company. While old money paved the way for her ascendency, it’s her heavy handed use of power that has kept her at the top.
Think of Cersei’s approach like that of an Uber or Square. They earn brand recognition through blitz campaigns, not grassroots. They spend heavily to gain prominent visibility and send strong signals to their competitors. They outmuscle challengers by taking risks, such as spending lots of money to flood the market with offers that no one can resist. And while their employees may not think too highly of them from a morality standpoint, everyone knows their name.
Of course, not every business has the sheer capital to act in this fashion. But even those with small budgets try to emulate these cutthroat strategies. They may spend heavily on online advertising. Or, they may try to bombard their market with offers, stifling competition and earning new customer leads effortlessly.
Most importantly, they don’t show any signs of vulnerability. Even when these companies have a PR gaff and have to take a Walk of Shame, as Cersei did, they always come out stronger on the other side. Rather than trying to persuade people to support their company because it shares their values, they make it seem like they are the only choice. This type of monolithic branding can win customers, but it doesn’t engage them.
How Businesses Can Use Digital Marketing to Earn Loyalty Like the Mother of Dragons
When money is no object, starting massive campaigns Cersei-style is the way to go. The fact of the matter is that most businesses simply don’t have the investors or clout to consolidate markets and take on massive corporations on day one. Instead, you will need to rely on the style of Danaerys to build your army of loyal customers.
For digital marketers who want to play the long game like Dany, you have to start with a likeable brand steeped in values. The Stormborn has a family legacy behind her name, but she had to rebuild her reputation and resources from scratch. Every move she made was calculated with the idea that she could allow early gains to provide momentum, like a snowball rolling down the hill.
One great strategy to get your own snowball going is to rely on high quality content that engages existing customers. Studies show that content marketing can generate more than three times the amount of leads as outbound advertising, all while costing 62% less, on average.
If you have well-written, valuable content on your website, then you give all sorts of customer types a reason to visit. They can read the information you have provided them while building a relationship with your brand.
“Great content is an important asset,” writes digital marketing titan Hubspot. “It has the ability to create a positive experience for your potential customers and compel them to come back for more. It’s your ticket to capturing your audience’s attention and continually reinforcing a positive brand impression.”
Content can also earn you more leads through search engines. In fact, quantity and quality of content are one of the top factors in helping you earn higher search engine rankings.
Over time, having good content will provide you with a resource pool that can deepen customer loyalty while connecting the dots for your other campaigns. You can generate content assets like infographics or downloadable guides using some of your best performing blogs. You can interlink keywords in new blogs with popular ones from the path, strengthening your ability to rank for those keywords when it counts.
Most importantly, you can rely on loyal readers to share your content with others, helping you gain more allies through positive word of mouth.
Ready to make an alliance that can help you challenge the authority of tyrants and pretenders? The Atlanta content marketing experts at Antarsia Marketing can help you craft the exact type of rich, value-packed content search engines and customers love. Our words inspire loyalty that can help you conquer the continent, one household at a time.
Learn more about our content marketing and digital marketing packages when you contact us today.