Last week, I watched the new Iron man movie and several lightbulbs flashed in my brain. I saw that movie as a great metaphor for business. I thought: if you want to make your business grow, a good business idea isn't enough, hard work isn't enough, luck isn't enough either.
There are two basic levels of insight that I received from watching the movie:
The first was Marvel as a whole. I got the overwhelming sense that we are in the midst of perhaps the biggest movie franchise in all of Hollywood history. Their epic success on the big screen IS the secret that will make your business grow. Its right under your nose, and if you can decode the secret, you will benefit greatly.
The second was Tony Stark himself. There are lots of things to learn from this fictional billionaire. I also started to see how his character was crucial to the expansion of Marvels current fame and glory.
So here are the 7 lessons I learned:
Final scene in Iron Man 2008: Tony Stark is called to a press conference to answer questions about the true identity of Ironman…he says, "I AM Ironman!"
That's cocky. That's personality. That's exactly what every other superhero wouldn't DARE do.
Now think of Superman, (or any other superhero for that matter):
He's always trying to hide his identity…to "fit in"… to tippy toe around villains he could squash like an insect. When you think about it, he can be a REALLY boring wussbag of a guy…and I personally think this is partly why Supes did so poorly back in 2006.
When I think about the entreprenuerial world, this comparison reminds me of a suit wearing beaurecrats vs the trendy entreprenuerial icon.
Steve Jobs is a good example of someone with iconic personality. His personality is so destinctive, even after his death anyone who tries to rock a black turtleneck and jeans will be labelled an impostor. I think Barack Obama wins this title too. He's the only president I've ever seen shooting hoops on a BBall court…or jamming to Beyonce for that matter….
When you speak with flair––with personality––people respond to it. Finding your swag is a great way to make our business grow. It will become a symbol for your business' awesomeness. When you tone yourself down on the other hand, people are never so enchanted.
3. A Vulnerable Hero.
It wouldn't be good enough for Tony to be an arrogant bastard all movie long. We would get sick of that pretty quickly. He has to show a vulnerable side. Something softer. More human. We feel his pain throughout Ironman 3 as he struggles with paranoia and post traumatic stress disorder. Flying through wormholes in space with armed nukes, thus saving the entire world from an alien invasion can take its toll…
In your business, show your human side. Show that you are flawed…insecure…afraid…
A key example: I had two separate clients who wrote to their lists in complete grief after their dogs had died. Total coincidence, but both clients had the best response rates ever from those heartfelt emails. When you are in some kind of pain…showing a little bit of it can have a tremendously powerful effect. In fact, ever since one of those clients started writing more personal emails, he was able to make his business grow 400% in under a year.
4. The Same $h!t…Only Different.
I recently read an excellent book on screenwriting called, "Save The Cat". It talked about how all movies are basically the same. When we go to the movies, we aren't looking for a movie we've never seen before, rather, we want something that's a little different. So a basic movie writing formula is to copy a tried and true movie…with a little twist.
Obviously, Marvel is doing this with Ironman 3. Ultimately, it's not that different from Ironman 1 & 2… or any of the other Avenger movies for that matter! I will pretty much pay for any Iron Man movie at this point without much fuss. Why? Because I have a pretty good idea of what it's going to be about…only there'll be new twists and turns and bad guys and gags and gagdet upgrades I hadn't seen before.
This is an amazing mindset for products and services.
Think of Jack Canfield who wrote the Chicken Soup For The Soul series. He keeps rewriting the same damn book for different audiences. There are now over 200 different titles. Robert Kioyosaki has his own twist. Instead of writing the same book for multiple different audiences, he picks one tiny financial issue and writes a whole book that he sells to his same old customers.
5. Always Better Than The Last…
Obviously, this works with Ipods and technology…but it also works with Ironman. IMHBHO, I though the third movie was definitely the best Iron Man so far. Better villians, better Iron man suits…
When you always outdo yourself––like Ipods and Ironman––the hype stays hot. People anticipate your next product, or service or project. You fuel demand for your business. You can make it grow very quickly…
6. A Good Badguy…
I was pleasantly surprised to see Guy Pierce playing one of the most diabolical badguys I've seen on the Marvel big screen. I normally dislike the villains in Ironman/Marvel movies and I feel like almost all of them would have been much better if the villains were better…
Everyone loves to hate a good badguy.
I'll even go as far as saying this:
A movie is only as good as its badguy…
(If you need proof of that, see Heath Ledger as Joker. Nuff said…)
So how does this "badguy" theme translate to the businessworld?
In your business, find one unifying enemy that your customers can hate and you're set. When you're small, take a branding strategy that directly opposes the large. Make it a David and Goliath affair. People naturally want to root for the underdog…So when you go up against a giant enemy, or a conventional way of thinking, it elevates your status…
Think Apple vs Windows.
Think about Green Peace. Their archnemesis is Big Oil. It works really well.
Think about 50 cent…What would he rap about if he didn't have someone to beef with?
Avis Rent-a-Car: we try harder.
Your bad guys can be as simple as the problem your business solves…
7. Lifetime Customer Value…
Guaranteed, when Tony Stark sells weapons and technology to the government, he is thinking in terms of Lifetime Customer Value…
What is LCV? It's the total value of a customer across all of the time you expect to do business with them. So for example, if you watched Ironman 2008 and loved it, and you have since watched the 10 more Marvel movies that have come out since, then you're worth $105 dollars to them (Assuming you paid $10.50 per ticket.)
Disney thinks in terms of LCV. They are literally trying to indoctrinate entire generations of people. First, they were the grand masters of the children's movie. Now, they are attacking teenagers with franchises like The Avengers and Star Wars.
Small time wantrepreneurs think in terms of sales…millionaires and billionaires think in terms of Lifetime Customer Value. When you think in terms of LCV, this pretty much assumes that you're planning to sell as much as you can to your customers… it also forces you to deliver world class quality to your customers becuase they wouldn't return if you were chincy and shoddy.
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Written by Anton Volney
Anton Volney is a LinkedIn profile writing expert, a war-hardened direct response copywriter, an amateur comedian, a cool compadre, and a lover of all things entrepreneurial.
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