It’s May the Fourth. If you’ve perused the internet or scanned your social feed any time in the last five years, you know it’s Star Wars Day. A “holiday” that brings together Jedis and Stormtroopers, united in their shared enthusiasm for the Star Wars universe that George Lucas created decades ago and Disney cemented in recent years. It’s a phenomenon of sorts; half celebration, half marketing bonanza (and, for some, part excuse to dress up in Rebel princess and Darth Vadar costumes). Today, I interrupt the barrage of (attempted) clever social media posts from true fans, wanna-bes and bandwagon brands alike to bring you another perspective in the form of B2B marketing lessons from Star Wars.

I wrote a piece on this very topic on the opening day of Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens. Today, May the Fourth, 21 days from the debut of Solo: A Star Wars Story, seems an appropriate day to repost. (And unfortunately, Donald Trump is still trending.)

As a marketer or communications pro, Star Wars has something for you too – marketing lessons.Click To Tweet

Rewind: Putting the Star Wars Experience in Perspective

Confession: When I set out to see Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace on its opening night in 1999, I did so with dysfunctionally high expectations. I was convinced it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience – a chance to relive something that meant so much a long ago time ago. Some two hours later, as the credits rolled, I realized how wrong I was. I had allowed myself to believe that the sci-fi fantasy world I’d first discovered when I was five would be something I could somehow still relate to. It took me weeks to get over it. Scratch that. I’m still not over it. The Phantom Menace was that bad.

Here we are on the official opening day of Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens and I’m once again filled with delusions of grandeur. But I’ve learned a thing or two in the intervening years; this time I’m setting the snake oil aside and looking at the experience from a marketer’s perspective. The fan in me is just there for the movie.

There’s only one thing saturating the airwaves more than The Force Awakens – Donald Trump. (The odds of you not having guessed correctly are approximately 3,720 to one.) The Donald aside, Star Wars is everywhere. So what are the marketing lessons from Star Wars, a brand that can sell itself without lifting even a finger? Lesson 1: The smart folks at Disney aren’t spending much on marketing.

Fast Forward: Action-Packed Marketing Lessons

The power of the teaser: Disney is showing just enough for the movie to be incredibly intriguing without giving away the entire thing. From this, marketers (particularly those of us in services) should look at what Disney is doing to tease their own solutions, striving to find that elusive balance between sharing too much and revealing too little. It’s a hard thing for consulting companies to achieve, but it can be done.

The effectiveness of video: The comparison might not be fair because it’s a movie and there’s more than two hours of footage to draw from, but consider the range of teasers. There’s action, there’s emotion, there’s humor, there’s things that make you go “Hmm… interesting.” The lessons for marketers using video (and those who aren’t but really should be) is to mix it up. Keep things fresh. Don’t fall into the trap of rote repetition.

The ability to tap into existing networks of “fans:” Among social influencers and bloggers, the folks at Disney know who the real fans are, and those fans are talking up the movie in ways and at volumes money could never buy. And they’re not in it for the money. If you don’t know who your true audience is or how to draft them to champion your brand, look closer. Your fans are clients and employees. Start there and put them to work raising awareness for and interest in the interesting things you’re doing.

If you don’t know who your true audience is or how to draft them to champion your brand, look closer. Your fans are clients and employees.Click To Tweet

Yes, the Star Wars franchise will continue to make mountains of money, and it can do so without any help. But clearly, Disney is doing things we can all learn from – and doing them very well.

One last obligatory thought: May the Fourth (and Force) be with you. Always.

Pop Quiz: There are five references to Star Wars movie dialogue in this post. Can you spot them all?

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With more than a decade at Stern, Ned has had the opportunity to counsel – and learn from – some of the brightest minds in business. A lifelong student, he is always searching for new ways to hone his craft by applying insights and ideas from outside sources. He says inspiration can come from anywhere in the world – from his young children to emerging start-ups to more established brands – which he constantly draws on to infuse creativity into client programming. As vice president, his pragmatic leadership style combines with strategic thinking to effectively connect clients with top-tier media, conferences and industry influencers. If he hadn’t answered the call to become a communications pro, you might have found him as a carpenter crafting wood furnishings and cabinetry.