11 Marketing Lessons from Hitchcock



I just saw the new Hitchcock movie, which tells the story of the making of Psycho.

While Hitchcock himself made cameo appearances in his movies, it was clear from the story that his wife held center stage in his creative life.

In a way, both where there — he in the movies, she in the plot, connections, script, and financing — influential, yet not blatant or obvious.

We should do the same with our marketing.

Be there, focused on the the customer, designing service experiences that help them do what they want to do without making the exchange all about the business or the brand. Because it is often all about the experience of them — and you.

Can we make
experiences both memorable and very personal? Through content, we can use the point of view,
the guiding light of the editor, and the availability to hold our part of the exchange by being conversationalists and storytellers.

Fear and fantasy are two of Hitchcock's key ingredients, always tempered with a good dose of humor and realism.

In fact,
the more realistic and reasonable the beginning, the more compelling
the twist.

11 recurrent themes in the director's portfolio we
could draw from

1. Ordinary person

Placing an ordinary person in
extraordinary circumstances. We call that a persona. By creating an
ordinary persona your readers can identify with, they will
experience empathy for themselves.

understanding of what they are going through — their problems and
issues. Especially through social, you have people like
you and me telling stories we can all identify with.

2. Wrong person

The case of mistaken identity leads
to all sorts of twists in the plot. Think about treating a passionate advocate and fan as an influencer, a level or two above what you would normally consider.

Help them be
the hero, and they will bring you to the table.

3. Likeable "villain"

The villains in Hitchcock's
movies appear refined and charming. Raise your hand if you thought that
sales calls are interruptions.

Today I received a perfect example of a
charming one. He was polite, did not beat around the bush, got to the
point without apologizing or trying to conceal what he was selling. We
can market like that through conversation.

4. Stairways

They symbolize the unknown in
marketing. Where do they lead?

There is the allure of the glossy
brochure, the courting through interactive marketing, then, at some
point, we'd like some action.

The stairway is where the prospect decides
whether to follow. If we've done a good job at creating the right
amount of positive resonance, they may trust us. Careful that it doesn't
become the fire escape route.

5. Mothers

You know that inside every
department in every company there is a hierarchy in the decision-making
chain. Have you done your homework and gotten buy in from the people who
have the power to say yes?

The magic here is to work with the people
who have the power to say no, not around them. The fastest way to kill
your opportunity is to go around someone to their boss, who relies on
them for a recommendation. Remember that. Take it to heart.

6. Distilled wine

This is an interesting concept. Hitchcock included brandy, a form of distilled wine, in all his movies.

We live in an age of snack culture,
where people consume media in small bites. Yet people are willing to
invest time and effort on things that are valuable to them, things they

How can you distill the information to be the right one, at the
right moment?

7. Sexuality

This is the want part of the
marketing equation. Need leads to commoditization, want leads to
consideration. A smooth marble countertop, a red Ferrari, a
shiny new iPad — all connections achieved through design.

How can we design
experiences that people want to have? Look at entertainment – Le Cirque du Soleil, a Broadway show, a prestigious gala dinner. People want to be there. They must.

8. Observer

The classic point of view most evident in Rear Window.
There will always be people up front, participating actively to
conversations, and people who are on the fence, watching what is going
on and forming their opinions.

You may not be able to involve them
directly. Yet, the mere fact of being aware they are there, will prompt
you to address their potential concerns.

9. Breach of a rule

This is the crime —
normal and expected in a thriller like Psycho. Breaking the rules works best when
you've taken the time to know them, learn about the boundaries, research
behaviors and reactions.

Then figure out the opposite – zig instead of
zagging – for example. Don't do it just to do it differently. Be smart
about it. Know why.

10. Heroines

Don't forget that many purchases today are made by women. We think differently, so much so that in Kawasaki's book The Art of the Start, he advise start ups to consult with a woman to vet a business plan.

Why? Women don't have the killer gene. They are thus much better judges of the viability of a business model — and of a purchase.

11. Silent scenes

This is the moment you are shutting
up and your customers are talking. It's the best moment, the one you
have worked for all along. It's tempting to try to oversell. When
the customer is talking and giving you an opportunity to help them, it
becomes all about them.

Forget shiny brochures, and make it a
working session.

Use what you have, and make the most of it, just like Hitchcock did in many of his movies.


Did you know that Rear Window was filmed from the angle of one single room? How about Lifeboat? His cameo here was in a newspaper ad for a weigh loss product. Masterful.

Surely we too can learn to tell a story so compelling and creative,
that it will have our customers waiting in anticipation.

How can we be
there by being focused on the customer? How can we make
experiences that are both memorable and feel very personal?

Customers are the stars, we're
the cameo.


[image credit: Scarlett Johansson and Javier Barden reenact Rear Window – see original trailer here. Photo from Vanity Fair USA, homage to Hitchcock]

[edited from archives]


Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a
speaking engagement click here.