Alfred Hitchcock is universally considered the master of cinematic suspense and one of the greatest directors of all times. Films such as Psycho, Vertigo, The rear window are just few examples of his great work and even today represents everlasting lessons of what cinema can achieve. In addition to a deep knowledge on fear and how to portrait it on the silver screen, Hitchcock was also a successful businessman and his lessons could still be applied by the digital marketeer today. Here are few.
Know your audience
Hitchcock was well aware that people go to the cinema to be entertained and escape reality and as director delivered exactly that. Most of his films starred a common man who found himself in an unusual situation which most of the times involved proving his innocence. The reason why he chose such a formula was to make the audience identify themselves with the main character and therefore provide a connection between its product (the film) and the buyers (the cinema goers). In a similar manner, your business should provide a product that talks to the audience, that create a connection with your buyers and satisfies people expectation.
Be your own brand
The audience was so aware of the Hitchcock style, that the director ended up saying “If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach“. Whatever your business, do exactly the same: make your brand recognizable. Independently from your type of product, when thinking about it people should have a clear expectation.Be knowledgeable about your niche, dress your brand and show your audience that you put your own spin on it (don’t try to be what you are not). It doesn’t matter if people tell you that your brand identity is not something that the masses are appealed to. There is no need to embrace the pop culture if your style icon comes out from a 50’s magazine! People will appreciate your knowledge, passion and unique voice; a 50’s niche-oriented customers will be to identify you as the leader in your sector as the only brand whose mission is “to bring the 50’s style into the modern woman busy schedule”.
Look at it from the outside
Wear your own brand! Be sure that 100% of the time people can make a simple equation “your image = your brand”. You are a professional make up artist? Show it on your face (no, literally!). You define yourself as fashion forward? Maybe Mad Men would not be the most appropriate style to follow. Look at it from the outside: “What would I be thinking if I saw someone like me, would I get the message I am trying to deliver?”
Deliver the best product
Hitchcock did not only deliver a suspense film, he delivered a crafted product. Every scene was planned to the last details; lights, settings, camera angle, nothing was let to chance, no take was never done without his supervision. In his career he worked in several departments and because of that he developed a deep understanding of a variety of technique required to make a film work seamlessly (such as lighting and editing). Whatever your business, don’t leave things to chance, but plan accurately every step and never forget to become the most knowledgeable individual of your business.
Great product at a fair price
Hitchcock was well aware of how expensive a film could become for a family of cinema goers. He even said that a film should be worth the price of the cinema ticket, dinner and baby-sitter (we could even add parking). Today this lesson is completely ignored as tickets are very expensive, and films quite often divided in multiple parts (so more than 1 ticket for a single film). Hitchcock was well aware that he could no control the price of a dinner or how much a baby-sitter could charge a family, however it could deliver such a great experience that it was worth all the additional fees. In a similar manner, you might not control all the external factors but you could choose to deliver the best possible product worth the price. You could even decide to make your business stand out by providing the most environmentally friendly packaging, the most reliable delivery system and even the most helpful customer service.
Be your main investor
When Hitchcock decided to adapt the book Psycho into a screenplay, he was so sure about the potential of the project that he had no problem in investing his money in the making. He was not afraid to take a risk because he had full faith in the future success of the picture (and it was indeed a big hit). As Hitchcock did, as business owner you should create a business in which you believe so strongly that you would feel confident in investing your own money. If you don’t believe in your business, hardly, other people would.
Be creative in your marketing
Hitchcock knew that Psycho needed to be a big financial success; for this reason he did not rely only on traditional advertising but took things into his own hands. First, he bought all the book copies so that people could not find out the ending twist. Second, he put people in front of theaters to talk about how scary Psycho was to other cinema goers. Third, the published advertisement (portraying Hitchcock himself) told viewers that they could not be late. Theaters followed the rule and late goers were not allowed in. Of course, this made people wanting to view Psycho even more. Finally, it kept the film very secret. Actors were not interviewed, the trailer showed very little and critics did not see the film beforehand. The buzz generated around the film made people jumped the line to watch it! This shows how an unusual approach to marketing can pique people interest, generate a buzz and deliver a financial success.