The British television series phenomenon, Downton Abbey is wrapping up their final season in the US. Maybe we’ve just got the Downton fever, but there are some lessons from the show that can be applied to marketing. As you think about your communications strategy in 2016, see if you can learn anything from our favorite friends from across the pond.
1. Imagery Matters
Downton Abbey is filled with beautifully shots and well lit stages. I believe it’s one of the things have responded to most about the show.
Marketing Lesson : People are growing tired of consumer generated videos and value high quality videos and content.
2. Storytelling is still king
Most of us like a good story and Downton Abbey delivers in spades – it’s fast paced, riveting, and emotionally captivating.
Downton’s enormous success is due to the stories created in each episode and across the series. Their stories pulls us in for not just one – but literally tens of characters.
Marketing Lesson : We all know by now that content is king in the world of digital marketing. Everything in your brand and marketing materials needs to tell a story and evoke emotions or you risk being ignored. Emotionally connecting with consumers is crucial.
The companies who can create – and share – the best stories are those who will attract consumer attention (and ultimately customers). What kind of story do you have to tell? How are you telling it?
3. History can be interesting
Downton Abbey is so interesting because it transports us ultra-modern consumers back to a different, fascinating time – back to WWI and where the fashions, foods, traditions, day-to-day life that aren’t seen today.
Marketing Lesson : History is a story and it holds value, so don’t forget your brand’s history as you blaze into the future. Your past might just hold interest for your current audience.
4. Humour rules
Our favorite funny character on Downton is the Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith. She also rules.
Marketing Lesson : Having a sense of humor about your brand or product can go a long way toward endearing your audience to your brand. Take a clue from the Dowager – humor is a necessary part of survival.
5. Details Matter
Watching a single episode of Downton Abbey you see the incredible attention to detail. Specific details are found in their storylines about historical event, character costumes, vehicles, architecture, furniture, and so much more.
When you’re watching it you feel like you’re in the middle of the time period whether you’re upstairs or downstairs.
Marketing Lesson: People want details! It could be new facts or figures that help tell a story or increasingly, images or videos. When you’re working to differentiate yourself from competitors and build your brand, it’s not enough to say “we’re better” or “we’re different” – you need to build a case and prove it to your audience.
6. Evolve with the times
The Downton estate has undergone several changes in its operation since the series began in order to keep the property a money making operation. Unlike their cousin “Shrimpie” who had not many changes to the Duneagle Castle despite the changing times.
Remember when electricity, the radio, and even the mixer was first introduced and discovered at Downton. It took several characters time to adapt to these new post world-war inventions, but when they did they were more efficient.
Marketing Lesson : Remember to never get too set in a certain way of doing something – no matter how successful they may have been in the past.
We live in such a fast-paced world where new technologies and softwares are being developed and you have to be flexible. Brands who remain adaptable and are willing to evolve will flourish in the future.
7. Customer Service
The staff of the 19th century British estate, has had its share of drama and despair, but through it all they’ve provided exceptional lessons on customer service and support. The Downton Abbey employees are efficiently trained by their superiors and their mentor-ship method has served them well.
In certain situations, Downton employees have found themselves in uncharted and sticky situations. When issues arise, trusted employees can rush in to save the day flawlessly and effortlessly, which is something all employees should strive for effortlessly.
Mr. Carson runs Downton Abbey on a strict code of conduct, and yet the family members clearly value and regard the staff as family – together they celebrate holidays and wallow in their tragedies. Marketing Lesson: Never forget that building relationships is important.
The hierarchy at Downton Abbey dictates Lord Grantham is the head of household (a.k.a. the customer). Regardless what a butler or cook may think, Lord Grantham makes the final decision and disobedience is not tolerated. Marketing Lesson: The customer’s always right, even when he or she’s not.
Don’t hire a Thomas. On the show Thomas blackmails, deceits, bullies the staff, and swindles. In reality Thomas would have been fired long ago, but for the sake of the show he’s remained a key member of the Downton Abbey staff. Marketing Lesson: Hire employees who take pride in what they do and are respectful of others. Employees and the people you do business with should care about your company.