6 Sales And Marketing Lessons We Can Learn From Horror Movies

Even though Halloween has passed, some of us (e.g. the Fileboard team) are still in the mood to curl up on the couch with some popcorn and a tall stack of our favorite horror flicks. While these movies no doubt offer thrills chills and gore galore, they also offer a glimpse at something more. Survival skills – not just in movies, but in online sales and marketing too.

Below, we explore six lessons we can all learn from our favorite slasher films, and how they apply to our online marketing strategies.

Make A Plan And Stick To It


One of the great Cardinal sins of horror movies is not having a plan for survival, or diverging from the perfectly good one you have already made. We see this error committed in nearly every slasher movie ever shot — the group that decides to stick together only to split-up a few scenes later, or the frantic airhead blind with terror running around with no action plan to guide her. Naturally, these situations typically lead to gruesome slaughters at hands of the demented knife wielding psycho of the film.

Not having a plan in online sales can have consequences just as gory. An Adwords account with no budget limit can bankrupt a small business. An involved social media campaign with no lead generation goals will waste hundreds of man-hours without a return. Instead of running around like a clueless college kid hoping to stumble your way to safety, be like Ripley in Alien and develop a savvy plan your team understands and will stick to. It’s the only way to make it to the ending credits.

Learn Your Environment Inside and Out


Have you ever wondered what gave Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) the edge to survive six editions of Halloween flicks?  It’s because for the majority of the franchise, Michael Myers stalked her in her own home town of Haddonfield, Illinois. This gave Laurie an advantage not often afforded to horror movie victims, as she knew exactly where she could run and hide, which houses would take her in, and which blocks to stay away from.

Contrast that with the group of friends in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre who found themselves marooned on a farm far from home, and the sales lesson becomes clear. If you are going to succeed, you need to understand the landscape and culture of each lead generation tool you add to your sales and marketing plan.  The people who hang out on Twitter are not the same breed as the Reddit crowd, the audience of one guest post blog is likely quite different than the next, and SEO audiences need to be more narrowly defined than your SEM targets. Without taking the time to thoroughly explore the environment you will be spending time in, you’re as good as monster bait.

Discover What You Can About Your Nemesis


One of the most beloved halloween horror classics is A Nightmare On Elm Street III: Dream Warriors. This is the one where Nancy and Kristen realize that they too have power in their dreams, and decide to band together with their friends to wage war against Freddy when he is at his weakest.

Until this film, most attempts to fight back against the gloved madman ended in a kitschy catch phrase from Freddy and a ghastly death. But in Dream Warriors, the kids discovered a winning mindset that works equally well in sales: Learn about your enemies.

Okay, maybe it’s a stretch to say your competitors are as bad as a child killing dream demon, but if you watch what they have traditionally done in social media and online marketing, you can avoid making the same painful mistakes they have no doubt lost money and time making before you. For example, if they put together a big push on Pinterest and your audience just wasn’t there to care, you’ll know that the network is of low priority to you. At the same time, your audiences are similar enough that an analysis of their strengths can give you successful ideas on how to out do them at their own game. In horror and sales, knowledge is power!

Never Run Upstairs


One of the most hopeless mistakes a victim trapped in a killer’s house can make is to flee upstairs. This is almost always a death trap, because you have nowhere left to run as soon as your agressor follows you to the second story. Jumping out a window will break your legs, and hiding in a room is little more than a doomed waiting game.

In online marketing, it’s easy to get caught up in the myopic treadmill of more sales, more sales, more sales… but look also at what types of customers you’re attracting and where you want your business to go. Do not make the deadly mistake of painting yourself into a corner by investing your efforts too far into one strategy with no exit plan (ie – we need a huge active Facebook following next month, and nothing else matters as much until then!). Finding the perfect mix of your audience’s online touch points takes a lot of trial and error, and if run too far in one direction you might find yourself searching for a window to jump out.

Survival Favors Good Priorities


Diverting precious company time and money into the prettiest new social network just because it’s there and available makes about as much sense as the teen couple stopping for a hot quickie in the killer’s backyard. And we all know these lustful youngsters with terrible priorities typically end up…

Clearly,  you don’t want your own marketing campaign to suffer similar outcomes. This is why you need to clearly define your priorities before getting too involved in any of the lead generation networks. What are you aiming for? Is it:

  1. Thought leadership
  2. SEO-friendly links
  3. Hot sales leads
  4. Community-building

Depending on your immediate priority, your strategy will need to adapt with it. After all, if you find yourself in a zombie movie, notice that those who decide to tool up and fight the zombies have different priorities than those who seek shelter and resources. Adapt and prioritize, and you will survive!

Don’t Get Lost In The Woods


In nearly every horror movie imaginable, getting lost in the woods is a recipe for grave misfortune. There are untold horros awaiting you, from formidable foes such as Jason Vorhees, demented freaks living in the hills, and even flesh eating viruses that can consume your entire group.  Every victim who couldn’t find his way through the trees surely wishes he never set foot down the trail the first-place.

In sales, you might not get lost in a literal forest, but sometimes its easy to lose your way in the thick brush of online audiences. Those who forget the exact people they are targeting in their marketing campaign wind up as lost as the Blair Witch Project kids who tossed their map into a river. The characteristics of your core audience must guide everything you do, from the tone of your blog to the networks you post on. They are your map, your compass, and your walkie talkie. Never lose sight of your audience and you’ll never be truly lost.


If you’re ready to apply these lessons to your sales and marketing efforts, check out a free 14-day trial at Fileboard. Until next year – Eat, drink and be scary!