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Witchcraft and Wizardry: Value-Based Marketing Lessons from Hogwarts

Do you believe in the magic of marketing?

Whether you’re a Witch, Wizard, or a Muggle, with your acceptance letter or without, welcome aboard the Hogwarts Express! In this blog post, we’re visiting the most famous school of magic to teach you how to create enchanting content, put a spell on your audience, and charm fellow marketers.

In the words of Severus Snape, the Potions professor at Hogwarts:

“I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Sound intriguing? Follow us to Hogwarts to see how anything is possible, especially in marketing, if you are willing to learn, experiment, and put your faith in a little bit of sorcery. Who knows, maybe one day your name will appear in the business section of the Daily Prophet?

The Chosen One

For all the lovely Muggles in our audience, the story of Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, was written by J.K. Rowling in seven volumes, the first one released in 1997. An instant success, it has been translated into 80 languages and sold 500 million copies worldwide becoming the fastest-selling story of all time and making J. K. Rowling the first billionaire author.

Cover artwork for ‘Deathly Hallows’, US edition, by Mary GrandPré | image source: Harry Potter Fan Zone

The saga about the boy Wizard is a hero’s journey. Unaware of his magical abilities, Harry, an orphan forced to live with his abusive muggle aunt and uncle, receives a letter on his 11th birthday that sets him on a path of adventure, friendship, and love, but also isolation, pain, and impossible sacrifice. As the Chosen One, Harry has to defeat evil personified in Lord Voldemort, the Wizard who murdered his parents and with whom, unbeknownst to Harry, he shares a secret connection.

We, marketers, are the Ron and Hermione (Harry’s best friends) to our Chosen Ones – artists, art galleries, museums, and cultural heritage organizations. And in order to help our clients’ broomsticks fly high in the world of content, we need to know what we’re up against. That’s where Hogwarts comes in, where the magic happens.

The Sorting Ceremony

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was founded by four Wizards: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. As a result, there are four houses in the school that students are grouped into by the Sorting Hat based on their personality traits.

Interestingly, research proves the fictional guiding criteria of Hogwarts actually reflect real-life psychology (mostly in those identifying with Ravenclaw and Slytherin, but still).

Also, each house is represented by its own colors, crests, and set of values – in the same way that your logo and overall presentation of your business help others immediately recognize what you stand for. So what practical advice lies behind the emblems and what can the traits of Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws, and Slytherins teach us about value-based marketing? Let’s point our wands towards each house to find out. Lumos!

Image source: Wizarding World

Gryffindor: COURAGE and NERVE

(also: bravery, helping others, and chivalry)

You might belong in Gryffindor,

Where dwell the brave at heart,

Their daring, nerve, and chivalry

Set Gryffindors apart;

All marketers know that it takes a great deal of courage to brave running a business. Free marketing resources like social media might be a piece of cake for some but a complete nightmare for others. Sticking to your mission statement when everything is going south is a deed of valor. Navigating SEO algorithms, changing trends, and rising competition might feel like a Triwizard Tournament challenge, and therefore takes courage to stay the course.

If you’re in it for the long haul because you love what you do, you might already have what it takes to succeed. Individuals sorted into Gryffindor are daring after all. If you’re brave enough, you’ll be a hero to your audience. A member of this house would experiment with new strategies, launch creative media campaigns or conquer a new platform by publishing content there. Channel your inner lion and keep roaring until everyone knows your name.

“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”

– Ginny Weasley, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29
Image source: Wizarding World

Hufflepuff: HARD WORK and PATIENCE

(also: loyalty, justice, and fair play)

You might belong in Hufflepuff,

Where they are just and loyal,

Those patient Hufflepuffs are true

And unafraid of toil;

Building a brand or online presence takes hard work and patience, a lot of patience. What Hufflepuff teaches us is not to detour from our chosen path, but to stay loyal to our truth and our audience, no matter the toil. It might take years before you get recognized for your efforts. But won’t the potential results be worth the wait? 

Think about the value you will add to people’s lives along the way and how many strong connections you’ll build with your Hufflepuff empathy. By living out your purpose, you’ll enrich your work with meaning. The world needs more meaningful work.

So stick with it. Roll up your sleeves and stay focused. If one social media campaign fails, there are dozens more to experiment with (for free and with relatively low risk). If a client turns you down, there are plenty more Grindylows in the Black Lake (or fish in the sea). If an evil Wizard steals your design, create something even better. Persistence is key.

“Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

— Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie
Image source: Wizarding World

Ravenclaw: WISDOM and WIT

(also: intelligence, knowledge, planning ahead)

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,

if you’ve a ready mind,

Where those of wit and learning,

Will always find their kind;

Intelligence and wit can take you far in both Ravenclaw and marketing, especially when it comes to content creation. A wise Witch will spend time pondering what exactly makes the results of her work enchanting and which content potion ingredients put a smile on the faces of her readers or viewers. She’ll think of the kind of contribution she wants to make in her field of expertise as a masterful marketer she is good at strategizing and planning.

The Ravenclaw nugget of wisdom is to be yourself so you can bond with your audience sincerely, and strengthen your relationships accordingly. Don’t try to be someone you’re not – the effects of the Polyjuice Potion only last for so long. Write in a conversational, approachable tone and never hesitate to throw in a joke or two to make your content more spellbinding. 

And most importantly, a true Ravenclaw will never cease to be a student (there are plenty more books in the Restricted Section) so share your knowledge freely and selflessly with others. Your audience will love you for it.

“Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.”

— Inscription on Rowena Ravenclaw‘s diadem
Image source: Wizarding World

Slytherin: AMBITION and LEADERSHIP

(also: cunningness, heritage, and resourcefulness)

Or perhaps in Slytherin

You’ll make your real friends,

Those cunning folks use any means

To achieve their ends.

With great power comes great responsibility. As marketers, we are experts and leaders in our respective niches and a healthy dose of ambition will make us and our clients known in the world. We are resourceful, clever, and our cunning strategies can lead by example. We are this way because, above all, we want to help others.

As you know, marketing can be a fickle game of Wizard’s Chess, not for the faint-hearted. So we need tricks to beat the system, ways around an algorithm, tips on how to rewrite a social media campaign that’s not performing as well as we’d like.

Here’s what we’ve learned from our marketing experience: quality is key. Mass production is not a good strategy, nor is creating mainstream, commercial content that we’ve all seen a million times before. Rise above the mediocre, dear Slytherin, you know you have it in you to catch the Golden Snitch (your audience’s attention). Rephrase your CTA so it sounds more like you, tweak the headline to your liking, and if you think that topic you want to write about hasn’t been talked about nearly enough, feature it front and center on your blog. Lead by example.

It is the quality of one’s convictions that determines success, not the number of followers.

— Remus Lupin, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Movie
Image source: Wizarding World

Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus

In the Wizarding World, magic is an expression of who you are. That’s why the wand chooses the wizard and how the Sorting Hat shapes our sense of belonging. Did you know, however, that you can influence the wise hat’s decision? Harry Potter himself avoided being sorted into Slytherin because he insisted, and the Sorting Hat granted his wish.

The truth is, in marketing, we need a magical winning combination of as many house strengths as we can get, hence, the above all-encompassing Hogwarts motto that roughly translates from Latin to never tickle a sleeping dragon (which is witty and, we’d argue, very Ravenclaw-like).

Being sorted into one business niche doesn’t mean you won’t share the values of another. Marketers need to be the whole package. So draw upon your courage and bravery, hard work and patience, wisdom and wit, ambition and leadership skills, and you’ll make your voice, and the voices you want to raise up, heard even in the Muggle world.

For fun, you too can get sorted into one of the four Hogwarts Houses. Let us know where the Sorting Hat places you!
Image source: Wizarding World

Not sure how to take the next step with your content strategy? Our free Content Marketing Scorecard is designed to help you do just that – identify what you’re doing well and what could use a boost. By answering a set of 16 yes/no questions, you will come away with specific recommendations on how to improve your brand awareness, social media presence, and content offering. It takes less than five minutes to fill out and is completely confidential.

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