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What do warring families, dragons, and great marketing have in common?

More than you might think.

You probably watch the TV show "Game of Thrones" for its gritty characters, political intrigue, and mind-bending plot twists.

But take a look at author George R.R. Martin—the man behind the curtain—and you'll find a philosophy that goes far beyond entertainment.

Martin isn't just a great storyteller. The way he approaches his work also has plenty of practical applications for growing one's business.

1. Understanding the Real Meaning of "Overnight Success"

To the casual fan, Martin came out of nowhere. Most viewers don't know he published the first book in the series way back in 1996.

His dramatic rise to the top makes for a great story. But it ignores the 40-year process that made it possible. Martin started writing professionally (and struggled for years) in 1971.

It might not take 40 years for your marketing to work, but it might take longer than you expect. Some marketers get frustrated chasing elusive quick wins. They jump from strategy to strategy without ever giving one the time it takes to pay off.

A laser focus on daily processes—things like optimizing lead nurturing and refining your understanding of target customers—isn't as glamorous as searching for that one magical campaign. But it's also much more likely to grow a business.

2. Totally Immersing Oneself

On Martin's website, he talks about a "total immersion" method he uses when doing background research for novels. He read as many medieval history books as he could get his hands on before starting to write.

Swimming in this information gives Martin a rich foundation upon which to build stories. All of the little nuggets come together and make the narrative ring true.

Are you living and breathing your industry? A lot of marketers aren't. They work hard, but they don't set aside time to keep learning.

Dedicating time every day to read, listen to podcasts, and watch videos about your niche is one of the most cost-effective investments you can make. When you apply them, all the pieces of information you collect can create a huge competitive advantage.

3. Killing One's Darlings

One of the most addictive things about Game of Thrones is that no character is safe. Every scene leaves you wondering whether your favorite characters will live to fight another day.

According to Martin, the big decisions to kill off characters don't come easy, but he follows through when he knows it needs to happen to drive the story forward.

It's easy to get emotionally invested in certain marketing strategies. But it can backfire if you get too attached. You might end up throwing money away on something that isn't working anymore.

You can't predict which tactics will work best five years from now. Staying open to new tools and marketing channels—being willing to experiment —puts you in the best position to seize new opportunities and grow.

4. Not Being Completely Original

Martin steers clear of a lot of fantasy fiction clichés. He doesn't avoid them all, though his story is different enough to seem fresh.

His series isn't completely original. He based some of the plot on the War of the Roses, a real historical event.

You can borrow from successful marketing strategies just like Martin borrowed from history. Forcing yourself to come up with a 100% original strategy just adds a lot of unnecessary pressure.

Sometimes, you can reverse engineer what successful competitors are doing and make little adjustments to suit your target customers.

5. Having Relentless Focus

Martin writes on an ancient computer (he still uses DOS!) without an Internet connection, apps, or other distractions. Doing so helps him focus on completing the highest-priority activity every day: getting new words on the page.

Every day brings new marketing tools and tactics. Letting all the shiny new toys distract you from what's truly important is far too easy.

Resist the temptation. Focusing on the fundamentals—reaching new leads, building relationships, and working them down your sales funnel and executing them consistently—will put you ahead of unfocused, scattered competitors.

* * *

You may (or may not) watch "Game of Thrones," but the way Martin approaches his work has plenty of practical applications for your marketing.

Apply the principles above, and you'll reach new leads, bring in more customers, and develop a competitive advantage that lasts.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Corey Pemberton

Corey Pemberton is a freelance copywriter and blogger at Copy Arc

LinkedIn: Corey Pemberton