Business lessons from Marvel Studios


Business lessons from Marvel Studios

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After so long without any Marvel films we are starting to see some new releases from this huge movie universe. There are now three Marvel shows currently streaming on Disney+ and a new Black Widow movie.

And with all these great new releases, we thought we would reflect on some of the great life/business lessons that we have learnt so far from this amazing success story.

Plan ahead

Marvel’s success has come from the way they plan ahead. Every few years their CEO Kevin Feige unveils a slate of new releases which make up a particular phase of the films. It’s fair to say this model has been very successful and is a great way to keep fans excited about what’s coming next.

Now we aren’t saying you need to be planning as far ahead as a billion-dollar studio, but simply having an idea over a period of time of where you want to go is important. For example, if you are looking to hire new staff when ideally do you want to do this by? You might be looking for new retail space. Once again the same logic applies in terms of having a date in mind. 

Sometimes being bold pays off

When you think of Marvel, images of the quintessential heroes like Iron Man, Thor and Captain America probably come to mind. And yes the studio has released a few films based around their most well known heroes. But Marvel has also been incredibly bold, releasing some very eclectic titles that didn’t have a big following before.

All you need to do is look at the enormous success of films such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man. These were not your typical superheroes, but millions around the world took to characters like Star-Lord, Groot (remember I am Groot?), Scott Lang and Hank Pym. These were far from ‘sure things’ but Marvel going down this route paid off and then some. 

There are times as a business where you need to take yourself out of your comfort zone and be a bit bold yourself.

Perhaps you think it’s time to start using social media to gain exposure with another audience. Maybe you want to create your own pop-up event over the summer and hand out some free samples as a way to create interest. As long as the risk doesn’t give your business problems, then there is no reason to be afraid to go against the grain and do something a little bit different. 

If you have good people - keep them

One of the great things about the Marvel film franchise is how it has brought together stellar name actors and kept them coming back for more.

For over ten years A-list actors such as Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Scarlett Johanson - and of course Robert Downey Jnr, have reprised their roles multiple times. This is not by chance, Marvel purposefully locked their talent down for multi-picture contracts and as a result kept that sense of continuity in the films. 

If you are lucky enough to have staff who are committed to your business it’s important that you find ways to reward and incentivise them so that they stay loyal to you. Keeping a close team together, who know and understand your business, can be what makes your business successful. Just look at how synonymous the actors listed above have become with Marvel films. Imagine if these films had different actors playing Iron Man, Black Widow and Thor, these films might not have been as successful.

Keep your audience in anticipation of what is to come

When a Marvel film ends you will often see quite a few people sticking in their seats - and this isn’t because they just love sitting in a dark room. Marvel movies are legendary for their end credit scenes, which always  hint at something that is going to come in future films. There are endless fan channels on YouTube that dedicate themselves to dissecting these endings and their meaning - it really is ‘marvellous’ (pardon the pun). 

Think about how you can keep your customers excited for what is to come. Perhaps you can email them about new products that are coming soon. Maybe you can promote a competition that you have planned and build this up through social media weeks in advance to create some excitement. Always try to leave your audience in anticipation of what you have planned for them. 

The value of leadership 

Every successful business of any size needs a leader to guide the ship. Of course, collective responsibilities are important, but ultimately a business owner needs to be at the heart of key decisions. This is exactly what Marvel Studios have with Kevin Feige. Feige is involved in all the major decisions that occur - which includes casting, picking directors and the storyline development. 

As a business owner, it doesn’t matter if you run a Fortune 500 company, or more likely a small business, showing leadership and ‘ steering the ship’ is an important factor to have in any business. 

David Goulden

David Goulden


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