Five Lessons B2B Marketers Can Learn From “Game of Thrones”

got-lgIf you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you might be so excited for the season 4 premiere on Sunday that you’re having trouble focusing on your B2B marketing job today. But fear not, noble lords and ladies of the Corporate Realm. Your Game of Thrones obsession may be more beneficial to your day job than you know.

We’ve worked long and hard to unearth the hidden marketing truths contained within the Seven Kingdoms and suspect you’ll find them quite valuable. And if you think B2B and battlefields don’t belong together, remember: the Targaryens have been making much stranger pairings for hundreds of years.

So have faith, dear Marketers. And learn these five lessons quickly lest yours enemies implement them first.

1. Winter is Coming.

No one in the North can forget the House Stark motto that warns all in the realm to be vigilant and prepared, even in times of peace. They’re vulnerable to a surprise attack from beyond the Wall at any time, which is why the men of the Night’s Watch stand guard to make sure no suspicious activity goes unnoticed.

As a B2B marketer, your prospects remain Wildings for 75% of the buying cycle. You need your own Night’s Watch, one that enables you to identify anonymous prospects, react to buying signals and engage your prospects before they start secretly plotting with your competitors.

2. Trust No One

No matter how many times Game of Thrones characters are warned to trust no one, they always end up breaking down – and sometimes losing their heads. But who can blame them? They’re desperate for resources and certainly can’t get their dragons back alone.

Unfortunately, although your customers and prospects are often much in need of a solution, they are far less naïve and vulnerable. They’re being assaulted from all sides with content and offers from you, your competitors, your partners and hundreds of other companies that you’ve never even heard of. To gain their trust, ensure that every interaction is personalized and meaningful. Sharing credible third-party validation from customers and analysts helps, too.

3. Choose Your Alliances Wisely

Each of the Lords vying for the Iron Throne is looking to bolster their strength by banding together with the right allies. But not just any ally. Robb needs troops, Daenerys needs a ship and without wildfire, King Joffrey has little hope of defending King’s Landing. If you’re picking up on a trend here, good work. These would-be Kings aren’t looking for friends; they’re in need of allies that are a good fit from a resource perspective.

As a B2B marketer, you also need the right resources – or more specifically, the right tools and technology – to achieve world domination. When considering who to partner with or what solutions to implement, make sure to choose based on your specific needs. What current technology do you use? How will your new solution integrate with it? When you can answer those questions, you’re ready to start making deals.

4. Know Your History

John Arryn and Ned Stark uncovered some very important information whilst digging in The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms. By understanding the key attributes of previous kings, such as being “black of hair,” they’re able to make some guesses about who should be the next King (hint: not a boy with very blond hair.) Then, doing a bit of research into how Robert Baratheon behaved in the past led them to discover the location of his true sons.

Similarly, as B2B marketers, we learn a lot about our future customers by studying the attributes and behaviors of our current customers. If all your customers are enterprise technology companies, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to sign on a small manufacturing company. Identify your target accounts, and focus your marketing efforts on reaching them.

5. You Win or You Die

As too many honorable characters learn the hard way, when you play the game of thrones, there is no second place and you don’t get second chances. It may not have occurred to you before, but as B2B Marketer, the stakes are just as high for you.

If you’re a B2C company, you have infinite opportunities to acquire customers. If someone doesn’t buy a pack of skittles today, they might tomorrow. But when you lose a B2B customer, you lose them forever. They either went with your competitor or failed to see the value of your solution. However, if you’ve paid close attention to lessons 1-4 and you’re very, very brave, you stand a chance of victory. With the right information, the right technology and the ability to win your customers’ trust, you stand a good chance of winning the sometimes-grueling battle that is the B2B buying cycle.

We hope that if you enjoyed these insights, you’ll share via social media or Raven. Because B2B Marketers always pay their debts.