8 Marketing Lessons Learned from John Wick

If you haven’t heard of John Wick, it's probably because the producers know exactly who their audience is.

And you aren’t it.

A big lesson there, one that you probably already know.

But what you may not know is this gritty movie almost instantly became a cult classic -- all because of ‘the boogeyman’ and ‘man’s best friend’.

Two iconic terms that everyone in Mr. Wick’s target market undoubtedly knows.

A Marketer’s Ultimate Goal:
Customers that Become Brand Ambassadors

In fact, John Wick has a cult following of raving fans -- exactly the kind of tribe a great marketing team would love to develop as brand ambassadors.

Grittiness of the John Wick style aside, if you are in the marketing or business development business, then you’ll quickly grasp what makes John Wick’s decisiveness so powerful.

So, what can John Wick teach us about winning in business and marketing?

Here’s eight hard-hitting take-aways that marketing professionals can apply to get massive results and take their marketing to a whole new level:

  1. Be clear on the goal -- John Wick has absolute clarity of the goal. Whether to get through the train station or dismantle the boss. But your goal probably won’t be so volatile. If you want to develop a lead generation system to increase sales revenue, then make this the mission. Focus and dedicate yourself to seeing it through. Establish your cost per lead targets, your cost per acquisition goals, and your traffic sources and your creative team. Make the target crystal clear. Understand that roadblocks, pitfalls, costs, and objections will get in your way, but the goal is clear.
  2. Commit to the goal -- John Wick has total commitment. There are no half measures with John. No second guessing. Once decided he has 100% committed. He may get redirected by things outside of his control, but a few roadblocks are not a deal killer. What's the biggest roadblock in your path? Quite possibly the grumpy accountant or the short-sighted programmer who says ‘this just can’t be done’. Stay committed to your fully executed sales and marketing strategy.
  3. Make powerful connections -- Quite possibly Mr. Wick’s best trait is his vast network.  They know him for his reputation of quality work. Not only does everyone know what Mr. Wick is best at, but John knew the best people in the business. And if he doesn’t know them, he quickly knows how to make a powerful first impression. Similarly, for a great way for you to enter a market and build your reputation in a cold market, here review our Targeted Direct Mail Marketing partnership and study the campaign at the bottom of the page.
  4. Be of service - dictionary.com defines “Be of service” as “an act of helpful activity”. John makes this a habit in all cases, whether it is part of a contract or not. This is another reason why he has built such a powerful network and has a quality reputation. John doesn’t always have to be earning gold coins in order to do a helpful task for a colleague. Both small and large ‘acts of service’ gained John many future favors and added to his network. You can do the same through volunteering, helping others with their marketing or simply rolling up your sleeves and helping out. Good things will undoubtedly come from it and people remember good deeds.
  5. Do not hesitate - Hesitation is known as a disease in Japanese swordsmanship. “Doubt” may be another name for hesitation, both of which John Wick avoids. But removing doubt and hesitation is not unique to swordsmanship and combat. Hesitation also plagues business and marketing tacticians. After all, this is what market testing is all about -- doing your market research and quickly testing ads to find market fit. This activity is central to growth. Doubt and hesitation in this process bogs all processes down. With that, reluctance to make a decision can lead to major problems. Overthinking and over-analyzing ourselves and the situation is a huge problem. John Wick does not hesitate, neither should you. The big take-away here for the marketer is: Research. Test. Learn. Test bigger. Or pivot and start again.
  6. Embrace the suck and keep moving forward --  Embrace the suck is military slang for, “To accept something that is unpleasant and unavoidable.” John Wick doesn’t have any pleasant decisions to make. All of John’s decisions require tough trade-offs. Fortunately, in marketing, your decisions won’t require life and death choices. But they still require tough decisions. Should you allocate 100% of your budget to PPC? Should you put your budget towards a Yellow Pages ad, direct mail or a lead gen funnel? Should you run the risk of less profits running another 30% off sales promotion? Or should you increase the price and run the risk of less transactions? All of life is a series of trade-offs. Be sure to look at the data driven marketing numbers so you can make the best decision possible.
  7. Know what's important to you --  What you most value will determine the way you live and work. Your values will help you focus on your priorities and guide the direction of your life and career. In spite of the chaos and objective, John Wick stayed true to himself. His relationship to himself and the most important person in his life, his wife, steered the direction and choices he made. While Mr. Wick’s ethics are not in question here, nor the ethics of his network, ethics is a critical component to everything we do in marketing and business. Born from the Greek word ethos, ethics is at the core of your habits and character -- and likewise, the first and foremost question at the top of all your business decisions should be: “is this good for individuals and society?”. If the answer is no, you shouldn't be involved. There’s far too many great opportunities available than for you to be in an unethical one.
  8. Don’t get too comfortable --  Boats are safest docked in harbor, but that is not why they were built. And one thing is certain, John Wick never gets comfortable. He isn’t given the chance. But many people do have the choice to get comfortable, whether by choice or by accident. Likewise, the job of marketing is to literally hit a moving target. Frequently and often. The landscape changes almost daily. As a marketer you need to constantly move forward, stretching your comfort zone and growing to new levels. After all, there are only two chief functions of a business: marketing and innovation. Get too comfortable in either one and the inevitable downfall will happen. Be like John Wick in that you keep moving forward and avoid getting too comfortable.

Even though John Wick is fiction, you really can add a little bit of these eight traits into your daily work life. When you do it would be nearly impossible if you did not execute more marketing campaigns, more often. You’d learn more about yourself, you’d learn new marketing skills and be better in business.

So, what do you have to lose?

For more great resources and articles on marketing strategies, go here:

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