Ever have one of those days where you can’t stop thinking about work? A few nights ago when I sat down to binge-watch a few episodes of Star Wars to mentally prepare for the next installment, I couldn’t stop thinking about copywriting.
And blogging. And content marketing and using it to get more clients. About how—unless I got this week’s blog post up and ready to share—I could end up seeing a dip in my income and scrambling around for sustenance, just like Rey on Jakku. (Though those water-activated food rations do look pretty cool.)
That’s when it hit me, right in the middle of The Phantom Menace: the learning opportunities are strong with this one. With this whole saga, actually.
In my classic trying-to-pass-off-non-work-things-as-work style, here are 5 lessons I learned from watching the greatest franchise of all time, all conveniently translated into internet marketing-speak.
1. “You can’t stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting.”
— Shmi Skywalker in Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Or, in other words, don’t be surprised when new technology changes the online marketing game completely.
Just like the internet itself completely changed the way we do business, smaller-scale innovations change how we market online daily.
Search engine marketing and the growing prevalence of mobile internet users are the two most obvious examples. Accelerated mobile pages, Google’s rich answer box, and geo-marketing are comparably smaller innovations that still pack a big punch.
And how about all the ways the new location-based, alternate reality game Pokémon Go has changed marketing this year so far? It’s kind of incredible if you think about it. Change in the digital world comes so fast we often don’t even see it coming.
It’s just like good ol’ momma Skywalker says: you can’t stop it. And you can’t grow so comfortable in the current state of things that you won’t be ready to change when innovation hits.
So what’s a young Padawan to do?
Stay on your toes. Stay open to change. That way when change comes, you’ll be ready for it.
2. “Mind tricks don’t work on me.”
— Watto in Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
And they won’t work on your customers.
Watto wasn’t going to take any nonsense from Qui-Gon and your customers aren’t going to take any nonsense from you.
And by nonsense, I mean cheap tricks. Bait-and-switching. Being anything less than 100% genuine.
Writing content for search engines rather than real people, using clickbait-y headlines, and FOMO-play is all sketchy strategies that sometimes, as content marketers, we can’t help but fall into using. We do it on account of laziness, on account of maybe a little desperation, on account of it’s what everyone else is doing.
But Jedi are Jedi because they’re protectors of peace and justice. And is playing on the fear of protecting the peace in the marketing world? Is using clickbait tactics protecting justice? Of course not. It’s being part of the problem. It’s like being part of a marketing Sith.
What to do instead? Be genuine. Be real. A marketing Jedi and use the Force only for good.
3. “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.”
— Han Solo in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Which is another way to say don’t let success get to your head.
So you’ve happened to come out on top when it comes to harnessing the power of the most recent marketing trend? Congrats! But don’t get too comfy.
What I’m saying, young Padawan, is don’t get complacent. Don’t back off on your content production schedule because you’ve been great about posting lately. Don’t ease up on your social media strategy because you’ve been getting a lot of followers in the past few weeks. That’s actually a perfect reason to keep on trucking! (Or Millennium Falcon-ing.)
There’s plenty of reasons to stay humble: a new innovation could render you a beginner all over again in a matter of days, you’ll be more open to learning new things, and you’ll stay on your toes and ready to tackle what’s next.
4. “In my experience, there is no such thing as luck.”
— Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode IV: A New Hope
I think what Obi-Wan is trying to say is that we should stop trying to find reasons to watch Star Wars for “work” and get back to our marketing plans. (Just me?)
I think what he really means is this: Success comes only once you’ve put in the effort that opens doors for it.
Social media success doesn’t just happen without a strategy. Viral content seldom goes viral by accident. Most customers won’t just happen to stumble upon you like a lost traveler on the forest moon of Endor.
Lots of hits, big sales, new customers—none if it happens without a bit of elbow grease first.
And what happens when you put in that effort on a regular basis, or invest in people who can? You’re opening the door for success to come through. Hence, only then can it find you and your business.
5. “Never tell me the odds.”
– Han Solo in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Or as I’d put it, keep your head down and do your thing.
Each minute bloggers post 1,400 new blog posts. 3 million businesses are using Facebook advertising to reach potential customers. Every single day, the average internet user makes a hundred little choices—one of them being whether or not they’ll sign up for your newsletter. Or follow you on Twitter. Or read your blog.
What are the chances they will? What are the chances you’ll stand out amidst a sea of competitors?
When these big, scary questions start rolling around in your head, certainly tell it to yourself like Han Solo would. Say, “You know what, Brain, never tell me the odds.” Be mindful of competitors, sure. But don’t obsess. Just fly that ship.
Keep your head down and do your thing. Because the fact of the matter is that once you end up on the winning side of things, the odds become irrelevant.
May the Force Be With You
Here’s your homework for tonight: go watch some Star Wars and pretend it counts as work. (Okay—then we really should get back to work.)
Therefore, when you do get back to work, remember to embrace change. To embrace authenticity. To stay humble, stay diligent, and keep your eye on the road in front of you. And always—always—remember: the Force is your ally. And a powerful ally it is.