Despite being late to the Breaking Bad bandwagon, as a marketer I could not help but notice the numerous lessons marketers can learn the hit US drama. There are several marketing principles Walter White – protagonist of Breaking Bad – gets right that are just as relevant in the board room as they are ‘on the streets’.
So without any further ado, here are 4 lessons marketers can learn from Breaking Bad:
Walter’s and Jesse’s special blue-colored meth, follows Seth Godin’s Purple Cow principles with an uncanny resemblance. According to Seth Godin, marketers must:
- Sell what people are buying
- Focus on the early adopters and sneezers
- Make it remarkable enough for them to pay attention
- Make it easy for them to spread
- Let it work its own way to the mass market.
In Breaking Bad, it is the blue – as opposed to the market standard of white – drugs that gains the attention of early adopters and distributors. This allows Walter to benefit from free word-of-mouth promotion and differentiation of what is otherwise a commodity.
A tried and tested marketing strategy by the most successful brands in the world is to charge a premium price. Besides boosting profit margins, higher prices means consumers will perceive the product/service to be of a higher quality. Jesse also sets a great example for marketers by ignoring what competitors are charging are sets prices purely on what consumers are willing to pay for his product, which is a process known as value-based pricing.
3) Minimize Channel Conflict
Channel conflict is where supply chain partners sell a manufacturer’s products into sales channels or territories that conflict with one another. For instance, in Breaking Bad drug dealers – or front-line employees if you will – are designated territories/segments to target. This minimizes the chance of cannibalizing each others’ sales. Furthermore, a targeted approach to selling avoids unnecessary competition with rival firms, which can have disastrous consequences for firms and drug dealers alike…
It is essential for firms to establish a loyal customer base. This is because it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer; customer loyalty is key to financial success. Fortunately for Walter and Jesse they sell a highly addictive product. But for the marketers operating in more conventional industries, bonds can be established with consumers to ensure repeat purchases:
- Financial bonds – loyal points or discounts
- Social bonds – developing a personal relationship between front-line employees and customers
- Relationship bonds – offer an enhanced product or exclusive service for best customers
- Structural bonds – legal contracts and shared operating systems with suppliers to ‘lock-in’ customers
To summarize, my Breaking Bad marketing lessons are: sell a distinctive product, charge a premium price, minimize channel conflict and establish customer loyalty
© Joshua Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 03/03/2013