If you haven't heard of Game of Thrones yet, you might want to consider climbing out from under that rock and rejoining the human race.
The hugely popular HBO fantasy drama series, currently in its fourth season, enjoys a massive international fan base and has been met with overwhelmingly positive reviews from even the staunchest critics.
Now, there's a lot to be learnt from Game of Thrones. For starters, the show amounts to a master class in scheming, double-crossing and power plays. In addition, fans of the show will know never to mess with a direwolf, to always burn their dead before nightfall north of the Wall and that - err - winter is coming.
What we're interested in, however, are the lessons marketing agencies can learn from Game of Thrones. That's right, a TV show featuring dragons, hoards of sapphire-eyed undead and a cutthroat battle for a seat on the Iron Throne, also offers a few valuable insights into great marketing.
1. Never underestimate the value of great storytelling
Above all else, Game of Thrones is an example of excellent storytelling. Dynamic, complex characters, unpredictable yet convincing plot lines, unfettered creativity and powerful themes make for stellar entertainment.
Similarly, marketing agencies should recognise the importance of good storytelling. A content marketing strategy is no good if the content produced is of a poor quality. This is true for two reasons.
The first is obvious: no one is going to read shoddy content. A blog post that's boring, riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes or factually inaccurate is going to do the opposite of attracting and engaging leads; it's going to damage your brand's image. On the other hand, well-crafted content that draws readers in with great storytelling is an invaluable tool for entertaining and educating readers.
The second reason why marketing agencies should make great storytelling a priority is because producing excellently written content can actually improve your search rankings. Google algorithms like Hummingbird award well-crafted content higher rankings than poorly written content.
2. Kill off your main characters if you need to
Game of Thrones is notorious for unexpectedly killing off main characters. No matter how big their role has been in the story so far, or how beloved they are to Game of Thrones fans, no character is immune to a sudden - and invariably violent - death. Luckily, no sooner has your (former) favourite character been knocked off than a bevy of even more interesting personalities rise up to take their place.
Marketing agencies should take an equally ruthless approach to marketing activities. Don't stick to the same old marketing techniques if they're no longer getting the job done. Marketing agencies should constantly be monitoring the success of their clients' strategies, cutting tactics that aren't working and replacing them with innovative, effective methods that demonstrate concrete return on investment.
3. Pay attention to detail
Attention to detail can be the difference between a passable story and an excellent one. The creators of Game of Thrones know this, and they've spared no expense when it comes to getting the details right. For example, when the Dothraki speak in Game of Thrones, they aren't just making nonsensical sounds. They're actually speaking a real language - Dothraki - constructed by linguist David J. Peterson especially for the hit TV show.
When it comes to marketing, attention to detail is equally important. There's no such thing as a 'one size fits all' marketing strategy. Great marketing agencies create tailored strategies and campaigns for each client based on a detailed understanding of each brand's image, products and services. In addition to really understanding the ins and outs of your brand and product, your marketing agency needs to understand the unique challenges and behaviours of the various segments of your market, too.