August 05, 2011

Marketing Lessons From J.K. Rowling's Pottermore

There are a lot of invite only Internet services rolling out right now and it seems like a new one is launched every week or so. One of the most competitive ones, with beta access even being auctioned off on EBay, is the new Harry Potter centered website, Pottermore, which just began offering early access accounts this week. Pottermore has not made a huge dent on Twitter's trends (as far as I've seen anyway) and I haven't seen it discussed on major news networks. Yet, countless people have spent the past few days watching their computers for a sign of a new trivia question in hopes that they might become one of the lucky few. Pottermore's launch provides invaluable lessons in marketing that can be applied to any new project, in music or otherwise, and even used as general career guidance.

1) Keep People Guessing
Part of the fun when you are a fan of something is trying to figure out what may come next, whether it be the next book, record, movie, or whatever else. So, when you are launching something new be sure to keep some of the mystery intact to build and play on the excitement. Of course, that can seem a lot easier when the project is related to a huge brand like Harry Potter, but remember that even J.K. Rowling was once an unknown writer and she is now one of very few self-made billionaire women.

The marketing team behind Pottermore has done a wonderful job of giving fans just enough information to keep them guessing by slowly releasing announcements, preview photos, and videos and setting up things like countdown clocks. Still, now, even the people who have been able to sign up for early access have not yet been granted it. So, no one really knows what exactly Pottermore is and what the site might contain. That is precisely one of the reasons fans are flocking to it: to have the chance to say that they were one of the first to get a look at it.

2) Get Them Involved
Beta invites can be as simple as inputting your email and waiting until you get lucky, but Pottermore has changed that dynamic by making fans the ones in control of whether or not they get in. In order to be one of the million with early access, fans must wait for a clue to appear on the Pottermore website, find the answer in one of the Harry Potter books, do a bit of math, find and click on a magical quill, and register all before that day's window closes (sometimes in as little as 45 minutes). It is essentially an online scavenger hunt catered directly to fans of the series and it gets people directly involved in the beta invite process. This not only gets fans more excited, but treats a site invite like a special prize and makes it seem that much more important and personal.

3) Reward Loyalty
Some of you may think the people vying for a spot on this site are crazy, but in a sense it simply translates to the digital version of going to a midnight movie premier or standing in line to be the first to buy concert or sports tickets. The fans willing to stay up through the night to register for the site will be one of the first to see the website, read the new content, and find out everything most fans of the series are dying to know right now. Their loyalty will be rewarded and the excitement of being one of the first people on the site will probably keep them coming back and even refuel their love and enthusiasm.  It's important to find ways to ensure that your biggest fans feel just as special and appreciated as those with early access to Pottermore will when they get onto that site.

For more info on Pottermore: Pottermore Site Unveiled

Katie Reilly | @rockstarintern
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