A year ago this month, I stood outside Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center, pitched against body-length poster displays and soundtrack music playing against the honks of taxis and the chatter of anxious fans lined through the city of New York, brushing elbows with the cast of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Thousands of fans braced the mid-Atlantic heat for days for a glimpse into a $15 billion franchise.
The beauty of Harry Potter is not in the glitz and glamor of the red carpet– it is not viewed by the fandom as a commercial venture, and nor was it meant to be. Despite its international success, the Harry Potter phenomenon has retained a sentimental and personal feel amongst fans.So how exactly does a global phenomenon like Potter generate so much revenue while maintaining a fervent grassroots following?
Establish an antagonist: What’s worse: Cold arms or Draco Malfoy?
In effective sales, a service or product must address a need. Identify the enemy that your product serves to eliminate. Whether it is a sleeved blanket to combat the cold of night or glitter tattoos to solve…well, anything, allow your audience to invest in the success of your product by connecting it with a pesky issue that needs to be resolved.
Character development: Be your audience’s Hagrid
For millions of children, the Trio became dear childhood friends. The response that was drawn from three fictional characters would be incomprehensible to those that never experienced the rich character development that Jo Rowling nurtured over seven novels. Each possessed a genuine richness and depth in their personalities such that we were able to connect with them on a human level. In sales, prospects demand not only a solution from your product, but also from you as the person and face they associate with your brand. Let your personality shine. Don’t try to fabricate a persona that you think will appeal to the prospect. Be a character rather than a corporate talking-head.
Yearning: Put Magic in Every Day
Much of the reason that Potter became the global success and phenomenon that it was and is, is in largely because it captures the magic that we all secretly wished we had in our lives. Potter captivated us, enchanted us with the effect of an Imperius curse, and always left us wanting more. We ached in between books, braced the cold and heat in skimpy house elf rags and Gryffindor fleece waiting for midnight releases. The genuine attachment and yearning we had for the series was carried through the course of 7 novels, 8 feature-films, and 14 years of anticipation. Potterheads became a term and with it a cult-following was established. This same cult-following has driven Apple to the forefront of the consumer tech industry. Devout Apple consumers follow WWDC and online rumors and purchase the newest gadget not only for the updated specifications and features but also for the image and personality associated with Apple.
A year removed from the final release in the Harry Potter fandom, the fervor has yet to dwindle. Fans have remained devoted to the phenomenon that shaped the last decade of their lives. The same principles that made Potter such a success could also be applied to business practices, and soon you could be looking at getting a bigger vault at Gringotts.