Five Marketing Lessons from Downton Abbey


Jan 07, 2013 - by Indra Gardiner Bowers
Five Marketing Lessons from Downton Abbey

I admit it. I'm a late comer to Downton Abbey. As Season Two approached last winter I was shocked at the fervent adulation I was seeing from almost every single one of my friends on Facebook. What was I missing? Well this holiday break I found out. On one marathon day I blazed through Season 1. Then cruised through Season 2 in order to be ready for Season 3 which began yesterday.

Maybe I've just got the Downton fever, but there are some lessons from the show that I believe apply to marketing, so as you think about your communications strategy in 2013, see if any of these are applicable.

1. Imagery Matters

Downton Abbey is beautifully shot, lit and staged. I believe it's one of the things the public has responded most strongly to about the show. As we grow tired of the hand held, consumer generated (or corporate-generated-to-look-like-it's-homemade) videos, quality is going to matter more and more. Think about it when planning your video content.

2. Storytelling is Still King

Downton is a soap opera, no doubt about it. And it works. Ultimately we all love a good story and Downton delivers in spades - fast paced, surprising and emotionally moving. Content needs to deliver at the emotional level or it will be ignored. How are you connecting emotionally with your customer?

3. Love is the Driver

Poor Lady Mary, she let her head rule her heart and nearly paid the price. We are motivated by two primary emotions - love and fear. Let's focus on love and keep it positive. Pinpoint the thing your customers love about your service/product and pay attention to it in 2013. We all have lots of competition and the thing that keeps us in business is the stuff our customers love about us. What's yours?

4. History is Interesting

There haven't been many TV shows about WWI and it's one of the things that makes Downton so interesting. Watching the time period, the clothes, the mores hold a fascination for us ultra-modern consumers. History is story. Don't forget your history as you blaze into the future. It might hold some nuggets of interest for your audience.

5. Humor Rules

The funniest character on Downton is the Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith. She also rules. Having a sense of humor about your service or product will go a long way toward endearing your public to your brand. Take a clue from the Dowager - humor is a necessary part of survival.

Are you a Downton Abbey fan? What other lessons does the show provide?


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