It’s been 10 years since director, Christopher Nolan shot this masterpiece, which is now reminiscent of a cult classic. And although many good movies have come before and after ‘The Dark Knight’, no one can deny the impact ‘Joker’ created on pop culture.
Joker was not only the most loved super-villain, he was also the face for anything anti-establishment. Joker T-shirts, Joker quotes, Joker tattoos, and Joker memes are all still very much part of our daily lives.
Ofcourse, we also see and maybe meet, a person like the Joker in our everyday lives, someone who is anti-establishment and likes to question the status quo. I’m talking about the modern entrepreneur. If you are, or want to become one someday, here are 5 lessons you can learn from Joker.
- It’s all part of the plan.
From the opening scene of the movie, where Joker carries out a brilliantly planned bank heist, to the scene where he breaks out of Commissioner Gordon’s jail, it is amply evident that Joker has a plan for everything. He meticulously thinks of all possible outcomes and then chooses the one with highest chances of winning (which, spoiler alert, till the end of the movie, he mostly does).
Takeaway for the modern entrepreneur?
In one word – planning.
It’s obvious that when you step into shoes of the CEO of your firm, you will have to pay attention to the tiniest of detail. From go-to-market (GTM) planning that will help you swim amongst tough competition, to an exit strategy that will help you capitalise on gains, there are hundreds of things to consider while cruising your own ship. Not enough can be said about the importance of things like people, pricing and performance analysis for your product or service. Like the Joker, plan the details of your little mission and then have guts to execute.
- It’s not about the money.
In what is one of the most defying scenes in the movie, Joker makes a big heap of money he’s collected from the mob leaders, and sets it on fire, much to the horror of those around him. As the fire rages on in the background, Joker nonchalantly executes the next part of his plan, while stating the now iconic words:
“It’s not about the money, it’s about sending a message. Everything burns”.
Often overlooked, an entrepreneur needs to be part of the solution to a problem, even if the buyer does not yet know he has one. All major consumer electronics we take for granted these days – personal computer, mobile or tablet device – have been built by entrepreneurs who have focused first on buyers’ problems. Now, I’m not suggesting you run your enterprise like a not-for-profit, but what I am saying is, you make profit a by-product of the solution you are providing. Money goes where ideas flow, and as an entrepreneur, learn to shift focus here, in order to drive profitable margins.
- Introduce chaos and anarchy.
The Joker calls himself an ‘agent of chaos’, and thrives in an environment where things are uncertain. In the near end of the movie, Joker pays a visit to Harvey Dent, the district attorney who got disfigured and hospitalised due to Joker’s own plan. In a bold move, Joker hands him a fully loaded revolver and with the toss of a coin, asks him to decide Joker’s fate. Fortunately for Joker, the toss saves his life. The takeaway?
Be fearless of change. When Garrett Camp and his friends got together and built Uber, they not only started a business that would disrupt the transportation industry, they became so popular in the shared economy space that changes in the industry are now termed “Uberisation”. In other words, train yourself to be “an agent of chaos”, sit back and then enjoy the results.
- Get down and dirty.
What defines Joker and makes him such a good villain (an oxymoron, I know…) is the fact that he absolutely loves what he does. Whether it’s robbing a bank or driving a truck, the Joker is a true leader, for he leads by example.
If you are a passionate coder and have a great idea but refuse to go out, network and sell, your idea will most likely remain just that, an idea. Be comfortable donning all hats in your venture, and do not get bogged down by so-called-operational tasks. Do whatever it takes to get the job done. Period.
- Be a man (or woman) of your word.
I will leave you with one last lesson, in Joker’s signature dark and sarcastic style. The Joker is a man of his word. When he says he will kill one person for everyday Batman refuses to reveal his identity, he follows it up with dead bodies addressed to the latter. Now I don’t mean, you should kill your competition and hang them from the sides of a building, but, be someone who makes realistic commitments that you can back up.
Every startup, like every good business, is built on a solid foundation of trust. Trust from customers, employees, and from everyone associated with the business. Build a strong network of people who trust your judgement and want to invest in you, by delivering consistently on your commitments. People who trust you will be ready to take risks with you, and that is where true success of your startup lies.
In summary, plan, don’t think too much about money, embrace change, get ready to get your hands dirty and be a man (or a woman) of your word.
“And if you are good at something never do it for free”, says Joker in one chilling scene.
As for you, my entrepreneur friend, it’s the only way of making sense of all your startup madness.
You may not have seen them, heard about them, or even know how to find them. That’s because they like to keep it that way. They are an elite unit, working mostly undercover, with a plan for almost anything, and, more importantly, executing the plan with clockwork precision.
They are the Penguins of Madagascar, a bunch of cute and cuddly birds that are so popular, that Dreamworks decided to give them their own spin-off movie. Better still, they teach us some unusual marketing lessons.
But first, the key characters.
The leader of the motley group, a born, or rather hatched leader, who does not take no for an answer, and is always scheming his next move.
The analytics guy, who gathers intelligence and gives logical but impractical solutions.
The demolitions man. He is someone who pretty much swallows everything in sight and saves it for later use.
He’s the one who progresses from being a secretary/ mascot to an invaluable member.
Together, these penguins try to prevent ‘Dave the Octopus’ from global domination. But for us marketers, they are unsung heroes, for they teach us these 5 invaluable lessons.
- They reject nature.
The Penguins of Madagascar are known to be rebels, right from an early age, and that’s most evident when they refuse to walk in line like all other penguins. When an egg cuts loose and rolls away from the line, the other penguins just dismiss it as nature. But Skipper (the daredevil adventurous leader of the lot), says something profound that all marketers should treat as gospel:
Your early Marketing Strategy should be based on these lines.
Throw out the conventional, the known and the mundane. Make an effort to go against the flow, because, at an early stage, not only are you trying to find your own voice, you are also trying to be heard in a crowd where everyone is speaking, all at once.
The more unique your early marketing strategy, the better the chances that people will stand up (or rather sit down) and take notice. A blog with a bit of humour, a campaign video that tugs at an emotion, an infographic that is more than just numbers – these are all simple examples. Use your imagination, and more importantly, reject nature!
- They analyse this and that.
Skipper typically seeks Kowalski’s advice (whom he admits to be the brains behind every operation), on every tough situation. Although Kowalski’s predictions tend to be more pessimistic, they provide important insights into how marketers should operate.
Analysing how early marketing campaigns are working, not only gives headstart over competition, it also helps prevent costly marketing mistakes.
Don’t invest in a fancy sales automation tool if you’re only targeting a test audience. Instead, do A/B email campaign testing, and quantify how well your strategy is performing. And don’t forget, in Kowalski’s own words – be awesome.
- They make their own options.
When the Penguins are captured and sent in a cargo plane to a remote island, Kowalski says that their options are pretty much limited. But does that stop Skipper from taking action? If you’ve been reading so far, you should know by now that the answer is a big No! Skipper does something which they say is down in ‘Penguin history’.
Skipper “makes his own options“, and, as a Marketer, so should you.
Do not let a failed marketing campaign or reduced engagement rates curb your enthusiasm to push boundaries. If your blogs are not generating enough leads, try a different approach, like changing the tone or the language. Fight dismal email open rates by tweaking the subject line or try using short conversational sentences. Go where no penguin has gone, and, if you are out of options, create your own, like Skipper.
- Go big or go home.
The cuddly penguins start their adventures in Antarctica, and travel to far off locations such as Venice and Shanghai – quite an achievement, considering these are flightless little birds.
In marketing terms, this means that from the word go, create a marketing plan that’s big enough to traverse through continents, oceans and even dreams. Remember that in the vast cyberspace, there are no boundaries, and that customers come from everywhere.
So when you get to creating your next blog, ad campaign, promotional video, etc, start from a broader theme, then narrow down to focused groups.
Like the penguins, don’t let small things like national boundaries get in the way of global domination.
- They act human.
The best lesson, as always, is kept for the last. It is something so crucial yet so obvious that most marketing teams give it a miss.
The penguins are successful in their campaigns because they are masters of disguise, blending into any territory with ease.
For marketers, this means, having a call to Action (CTA) that is subtle and non-invasive to customers. No one likes loud banners that talks of freebies and discounts, that are irrelevant and intrusive.
Adding that little human touch (understand what customers want and giving them just that), instead of intrusive campaigning, goes a long way in gaining trust – since people tend to open up more to someone they think cares for them.
In summary, break the rules, think big, analyse, never run out of options, and stay subtle. Marketing, learnt from the most unlikely heroes, the Penguins of Madagascar.
So are you inspired to apply the Penguin philosophy to your marketing techniques?
In 2019, it is estimated that more than 2.77 Billion social media users will be active on the Internet. However, only 36% of respondents to a B2B content marketing study say they are very committed to building a strong social media presence.
There might be instances where you feel your company has missed out on key elements of the social media bandwagon, but fret not. Here are 6 tips to help you skyrocket likes and reputation of your business, in the digital sphere.
1. Start with defining your personality
a. How will your brand engage with clients online? Does your content style necessitate a serious and formal approach or would a slightly casual tone make you stand out?
b. Linguistic style: Does your industry demand frequent usage of acronyms and jargons, or would you engage better with a simplistic style?
c. End goal of being on social media: Are you online to educate? To rake in likes or to entertain and influence?
2. Be more human
In the case of Social Media, conversing like a human, can prove more effective in getting digital traction. Although the general notion might still be to go with a formal corporate approach, responding to comments or enquiries with first names of clients, or blending in elements of humor and wit does help steer your social media growth.
ProTip: Build engaging stories, flaunt recent case studies, or even a good CSR post.
3. Understand what shakes your reader
Many readers are predictable. They tend to favor a certain piece of content, over and over again. While some are inspired by motivational quotes, others might prefer how-to posts. Observe and listen to the voices of your reader, then filter high-grade content accordingly.
4. Stay close to current trends
By gauging moods and trends, it is possible to steer your digital trajectory, upwards. For ex. if you were to write about “tips to keep your data secure” at the peak of the Ransomware malware attack, instead of during peak festivities, chances are you’ll get a lot of reader attention.
5. Tease to please
Any accomplished writer or journalist will swear by the importance of an awesome headline. While the body of your post might have content that can potentially turn around fortunes, it can easily be missed, owing to your boring headline. Keep them short, mysterious and unique, while maintaining a certain degree of suspense and interest for later.
6. Get employee buy-in
76% of respondents in a survey said, they trust content shared by other individuals, as compared to those shared by company pages. Additionally, messages shared by employees reached 561% further as compared to messages shared through official handles. It is imperative to create an employee culture that takes pride in the accomplishments of the company, and where in turn, the employees can engage in the most reliable and effective marketing method known to man i.e. word of mouth.
In the end, while it might seem that great social media footprint depends on great content, it is of equal prominence to take into consideration the timing, research and marketing – to ensure maximum impact.