Phil Haddad
Phil Haddad

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from Star Wars to startups:
my thoughts on movies, marketing, and emerging technology.

What Star Wars: the Force Awakens Taught Me About Marketing

Where in the galaxy is Luke Skywalker?

Where in the galaxy is Luke Skywalker?

As long as you don’t live under a rock, you likely know that it’s a matter of days until Disney/Lucasfilm releases a new Star Wars movie. Set 30 years after the original George Lucas trilogy, one of the first things you would expect to see in a trailer for the new film would be a look at Luke Skywalker, the protagonist of the original films. Instead, other than knowing that Mark Hamill is reprising his role in the film, we’ve seen absolutely nothing of our favorite one-handed farm boy turned Jedi Knight. Is he alive? Will he be in the movie or just cameo at the end? Has he turned evil? So many questions, and no answers. Disney knows exactly what they’re doing here.

More like  Batman & Superman Have a Disagreement But Ultimately Play Nice...and Wonder Woman Too

More like Batman & Superman Have a Disagreement But Ultimately Play Nice...and Wonder Woman Too

Let’s take another example from recent movie trailers: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. From the title you already have a few ideas what the movie will be about. Batman and Superman will be fighting each other, and the first trailer did a great job of presenting these two ‘good guys’ with their fears and differing morals. The mistake Warner Brothers made came with the second trailer. We got the same Batman vs Superman fighting clips, but they ended it with a clip of the “real” bad guy in the story and the two uniting against him….Wait a second, I thought this was Batman VERSUS Superman. Ok, on some level you would have to know they will unite by the end, but did they really need to spell it out in the trailer? It takes away any mystery or wonder you may have experienced it and says “Hey, here you go. Here are the main movie plot points. We hope Jesse Eisenberg playing Mark Zuckerberg playing Lex Luthor is enough to make you want to come and see it."

The new Star Wars trailers, on the other hand, show you that JJ Abrams has nailed the ‘look’ of the film and reveals just enough of the new characters and plot details to leave you wondering what is going to play out. To find out what happens next you have to get your butt to a movie theater.

This same lesson can be applied to marketing your product or service. Yes, you want to communicate what you do or offer to potential customers. However, instead of laying everything out on the table right away you need to create a story that draws them in. Yes, customers research online before they purchase, but to increase your chances of selling to them, you want to speak to them one-on-one over the phone or email.

Sure, not everyone is going to like the new Star Wars movie, just like your product or service isn’t going to work for everyone. By maintaining some of the mystery around what you do you at least pique people’s interest enough to pick up the phone and call you, to find out what your story is, what sets you apart from the other options. If you take the Batman V Superman approach to marketing, they’ll assume they have all the info they need and you won’t get the chance to sell them on it that you might have otherwise.

So, what does this actually look like in practice?

Identify the key points that people need to know about you, your product or service. 
You don’t want to overload people with information. Hit them with the high points and educate them as much as you need to, but you want them to want to find out more.

The first thing you should communicate is why you do what you do. Then what. The how can come later.
This is best explained with an example and I work with a lot of health coach clients so we’ll use them. As a health coach, you don’t want your main headline on your website to just be “I’m a health coach. Hire me to get healthier.” Yeah that explains what you do but it’s not very compelling. Try something with the “why” of what you do. I’m spitballing here but “I believe that every individual has the power to make their life healthier” is much more compelling because it 1) puts the focus on the potential customer and 2) it leaves the question of what you do and how you do it, questions they’ll have to browse the rest of your site or talk to you to get answered.

Give them a clear way to ‘find out more’ by talking to you.
Lastly, all of this is worthless if you don’t offer a clear path to get in touch with you. This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s SO important. Include a prominent “Contact Me,” “Request a demo/quote,” or “Get Started” button on every page of your website. If they can’t easily figure out how to get in touch with you, they have no reason to stay on your site.


If you need a website to effectively communicate your products or services to potential customers, get in touch with me today to get started.