With over $11 billion in worldwide box office sales, the Marvel Cinematic universe is the most successful franchise of all time. Marvel’s carefully calculated content marketing strategy has ensured that the brand stands the test of time and their strategy of slowly distributing their assets has paid off with an incredible return on investment.
Marvel knew that in order for the franchise to have long-term success, they needed to start out slow and detailed before growing the universe and combining the storylines. In fact, Marvel has all of their movies mapped out until 2028. This forethought is what has made the Marvel franchise so successful in the long run, and applies to their content marketing strategy as well.
The Marvel movies are interconnected; with every movie the journey of each hero becomes more detailed and gradually ties the plot lines for each movie inside the Marvel Universe together. This slow and steady strategy creates a buzz around each hero, so eventually, the target audience is attached and excited about the character and their story. Because of this they will always want to know what is next for the character. This guarantees that fans will spend their money to see the next movie, which helps Marvel’s return on investment tremendously.
How Marvel Became The Most Successful Cinematic Content Marketing Franchise Ever
The first step in Marvel’s content marketing strategy was to map out the movies into phases to attract a larger audience and create buzz around their films in the future. Phase one of the strategy was to introduce each individual character so that viewers build an attachment to the heroes and their backstories. The phase one movies were “Iron Man,” “Captain America,” “Thor” and “The Incredible Hulk.” Allowing the audience to slowly start to care for each hero paved the way for successful future movies like “The Avengers” by attracting a larger following. Marvel knew the initial phase one movies would make money, but they were strategically thinking in the future because they knew if Marvel fans were invested in each hero, they would continue to watch each new film to learn even more about the growing interconnected universe. Marketers can use this same idea to develop their content marketing strategy.
Your audience wants to make sure they are going to have a great experience with your brand and know that you are trustworthy before committing to your big sale. This is similar to how Marvel’s phase one movies created a following and trust before they came out with more expansions like side hero’s stories and the Avengers movies with all the Marvel superheroes. Marvel stays consistent by making sure their audience knows that the heroes are all from the same universe and can potentially meet each other. For example, in “Iron Man 2,” Captain America’s shield is shown to indicate they come from the same universe and for the most part, timelines. According to Variety, by the Marvel Cinematic Universe making reference to each other, the movies and shows can stand alone while still providing exciting Easter eggs for longterm fans. Marvel is genius for finding a way to tap into multiple channels in their content marketing strategy.
Phase two of their marketing strategy was adding to each hero’s journey by detailing their origin story even more and introducing some of the heroes to each other. Unlike phase one, where each hero goes back in time to the beginning of their story, phase two is set in real-time and the heroes start to get to know each other. Ant man is a side hero in the Marvel universe, yet the movie about him made $150 million more than “Captain America” in phase one. Marvel’s target audience was already hooked and invested in the cinematic universe, so any movie that came out after phase one was bound to be more successful, partially because of word of mouth by the fans who made new audience members excited to watch as well.
This sets the stage for the first Avengers movie where they have to work together in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” This movie introduces the first infinity stone that becomes a huge part of the long-term strategy to connect their universe even more. By the time of the first Avengers movie, Marvel’s fan base had skyrocketed, proving that their content marketing strategy of slowly nurturing their target audience and creating brand awareness before introducing them to their larger idea of the Avengers would pay off at an astronomical rate.
Phase three of Marvel’s strategy was to show the aftermath of Ultron and introduce the even bigger threat, Thanos. In the next two Avenger movies they have to work together to stop Thanos from getting all six of the infinity stones and becoming the most powerful being in the Marvel universe. Marvel’s target audience was completely sucked into their content marketing strategy at this point.
Lastly, phase four of their strategy jumps to five years after the “Avengers: Endgame” “blip” event, where many of the original Avengers either died or disappeared. This gave the Marvel franchise the opportunity to introduce new heroes in the universe who stepped up to take the place of the fallen and missing original heroes. After Marvel’s target audience grows an attachment to these new heroes, they have a chance to bring back some of their old heroes and create a new era of Avengers. Marvel’s mapped out plan until 2028 will prove to be extremely successful at this rate and will most likely boost their box office sales even more than what was thought to be possible.
Four Marvel Franchise Content Marketing Lessons
There are very valuable content marketing lessons you can learn from the Marvel franchise that you can apply to your content marketing strategy. Your brand will ultimately pay off and become stronger when you make sure to invest in great partnerships and relationships. You don’t need to spend a ton of money to achieve optimum brand awareness.
- Determine Your Audience
Once you know who your target audience is, the more you can focus on how you are going to grab their attention and gain success. You don’t have to advertise to achieve a large audience; forms of communication like word of mouth and using different social media platforms are actually a lot more effective. Cater to your audience by spending time on your content development and using your partnerships and relationships to build their trust with your company.
- Build A Standing Relationship With Your Audience
Curating a repertuar with your target audience can be difficult at times. It is important that you respond not only to the good reactions and comments from your audience on social media and reviews, but also to the negative ones, so that you can continue to build their trust and learn what works for your audience and what doesn’t. Eventually, your audience will come back for more and introduce new audience members to your company, just like they did with the Marvel franchise’s phases.
- Create Hype Around Your Business
By getting your target audience excited about what you are promoting not only will you have them coming back for more, but they are more likely to refer someone they know to your business because you have gained a good rapport. Creating exciting and new content is important, but following your long-term content marketing strategy will naturally produce hype around your business.
- Create Discussions Around Your Business With Your Audience
When your audience talks about your business and supports what you are promoting, the additional traction will come on its own. Produce work that people want to know. Sometimes writing about controversial topics or the elephant in the room will pay off because it will set you apart from your competition and show your target audience unique insights about your business’s trade and how it relates to the world. Talking about these topics will produce constructive discussions around your business and draw in your target audience, as well as new audience members. even more.
Curating A Content Marketing Strategy Like The Marvel Cinematic Universe
A long-term content marketing strategy is meant to promote brand awareness and name recognition by retaining an audience through creating engaging content and working toward an ultimate objective. This requires long-term thinking like the Marvel franchise’s plan until 2028: carefully contemplated, cultivated and assembled. Just like the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s phases, strategically create campaigns for your business in your content marketing plan. This will outline how you will achieve and move toward your business’s ultimate goal. InfluenceandCo explained that “producing content in phases (or campaigns) means that even customized pieces that seem completely granular on the surface can play an important role in reaching marketing benchmarks.”
You should know that content marketing can be risky because it takes time to see real results and achieve a return on investment. Be willing to accept these risks and create content that will set you apart from your competition. Research topics and different media channels to reach and connect with your target audience. Use these numerous social media platforms (or channels) to reach different people in your target audience and create different content for each channel that will interest them. Crafting unique content for each channel shows that your business has a lot to offer. It is also very important that you maintain a well-thought-out schedule. If you feel like you are having a hard time creating content for your business on your own, don’t be afraid to hire a team to track your progress or course correct your content marketing strategy and your schedule deadlines. Writing out your marketing plan will help you and your team see the bigger picture, keep you organized and on the right track. Allow your team to assist you in making sure that your content marketing strategy is designed to reach your ultimate business goals.
It is important to have an overall vision for your content marketing strategy so that you aren’t making up things as you go. This can make your business look like it is all over the place and unreliable. Creating your content in conjunction with each other rather than just one at a time will drive traffic to your business. For example, if you are writing a blog post you can include topics that your business talks about on your website or what your business’s overall product has to offer. This will cause your readers to want to learn more and engage with your website or social media platforms. Last but not least, know that the content you’re creating is what people want to interact with. Don’t just hope that your vision will resonate with your target audience. Figure out what resources you need that can fit in your business’s budget to best support your strategy like infographics, creating a heroic team, writing a how-to piece, etc. Make sure that your content marketing strategy is customized to the best interests of your business’s Avenger team and audience. Be aware that over time your content marketing strategy will develop by setting long-term goals, creating your work through campaigns (or phases) and making sure that each specific content marketing task is valuable and will be maintained over time.
It doesn’t take any infinity stones to become a powerful marketing hero. Following in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s footsteps is a great guide to build your brand to its fullest potential. Now that you know how Marvel achieved its successful content marketing results, learned a few franchise marketing lessons and have gone over creating a heroic content marketing strategy, you are prepared to put these ideas into action and become your own business’s strongest superhero.
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