A couple of years ago, Walt Disney Pictures rolled out its first film in the Star Wars series, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The movie would undoubtedly done well at the box office, but Disney didn’t take any chances. Instead, it spent an estimated $175 million on an elaborate marketing plan that lasted three years.
That plan included all the standard tools in the marketing toolbox—and many more:
- It focused on meeting current fans where they were (by having a presence at events like Comic-Con).
- It capitalized on nostalgia (with trailer appearances by Han Solo, R2D2, and Chewbacca) and on reaching new fans (through tie-ins with makers of toys and breakfast cereals).
- It prompted its marketing partners to advertise the movie. (For example, Target stores turned their entrances into spaceship doors, and All Nippon Airways wrapped three of its jets in Star Wars graphics.)
- It made extensive use of social media (including Facebook selfie-sabers and Google’s “Choose Your Side” feature).
- It built anticipation with teasers (especially by making fans wonder whether Luke Skywalker would appear in the movie).
- It launched a huge range of branded merchandise (including Star Was Band-Aids, lightsaber barbecue tongs, Pandora bracelet charms, and Death Star waffle irons).
As a result of all this marketing, the movie, which cost $306 million to produce, more than broke even on opening weekend. It has now earned over $2 billion.
So what does all this have to do with Scouting? Simply this: The folks at Walt Disney Pictures knew they had a great film on their hands, but they also knew that was enough. They knew it didn’t matter how good the film was if people weren’t motivated to see it.
It’s the same way in Scouting. You may know that next month’s campout is going to be the best ever or that next summer’s Philmont expedition will be the experience of a lifetime, but do your Scouts know? Are you using every tool at your disposal to advertise troop activities and motivate Scouts to participate (including posters, videos, testimonials, Facebook groups, etc.)? And are you using the same tools to market your troop to potential new members?
If not, don’t be surprised if your troop becomes a critical hit and a box-office bomb.
To celebrate the release of the second edition of The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, I’m offering a 20% discount on all book orders through St. Patrick’s Day. Just enter the code SMOH2017 when you check out at https://www.eaglebook.com/cart/.