When J.K. Rowling wrote the book Harry Potter, she had every excuse not to do so. She was recently escaped from an abusive marriage, with a small child and no money and no job. She was homeless for awhile and had never been published before.

Now, 20 years later she is one of the wealthiest women in the world. Her series of 7 books and their spin-offs, the merchandising, the movies with many more in the works, the broadway play and two theme parks with more in the works seem to be just the beginning.

Ms. Rowling has created an empire that will continue for many years to come. Today I want to discuss 5 business principles we can learn from the Harry Potter franchise and how we can apply each of these principles to our own business.

Principle #1 – Build a Foundation

Ms. Rowling didn’t just set out to write a book. It is obvious that from the beginning she intended to take her readers on a journey that would include a 7 year experience. In other words, she had a plan and each book laid the foundation to make her readers want to continue on the journey. She laid clues throughout each book that would become key aspects of the books that followed.

The world she designed was consistent throughout and as we continued to read, each new book they felt believable and familiar. When we opened a new book (or saw the next movie) in the series, even though each book had a unique viewpoint and unveiled new vistas and new characters, she kept us firmly grounded in the foundation she had laid with the very first book.

When you envision your business, are you taking into account the specific customer or client experience? Do your customers get a consistent experience? Is your branding designed to feel familiar with every different exposure your customer encounters?

Laying a proper foundation for your business requires you to take the long view. Imagine where you would like your business to be a year from now or 5 or 10 years from now. It makes no sense, nor is it possible, to lay a foundation without a blueprint any more than it makes sense to begin building a house starting at the roof.

Principle #2 – Take Persistent Action

One of the things that has become legendary about J.K. Rowling is here work ethic. Again and again you hear those who have worked with her on her various projects from movies to plays to theme parks that she is no prima donna. She puts in the hours necessary to make her business grow.

Her empire is built on an organized and persistent approach. Even before the first book was published, she wrote consistently every day. She was not looking for a get-rich-quick way to riches. She was putting in the effort to create a lasting legacy.

One of the best ways to apply this in your business is to set “business hours”. Many of you are creating this new business while working another job and having family and community responsibilities. This means you must create a “time budget” and stick to it.

Make sure your friends and family know that from “x” time to “y” time on certain days that you are working and should not be disturbed for trivial things. And during that time, you should have a plan for the tasks that need to be done.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A simple checklist will do admirably. Many of the great business moguls of our time worked from a list of priorities on a yellow legal pad. But having a system in place, whether that is a series of reminders in EverNote, so it travels with you on your phone or a more elaborate software, depends entirely on your personal work style, but it is essential to moving forward every day.

Principle #3 – Repurposing Content

The Hary Potter book series is available to the public in many formats,

  • Hardback books
  • Paperback books
  • Ebooks
  • Audio books
  • And of course, the movies
  • She has even made a successful foray into stage plays

This principle is an imporant model for you to follow in your business. Get in the habit of offering your customers many ways to consume your content. Documents, blog posts, podcasts, videos and streaming presentations are all ways you can get their attention in the format that works best for them.

True fans will often consume the same content in more than one format. For instance, I have purchased the Harry Potter book series in paperback, ebooks and now audio books. Because I am a fan, I can’t get enough of them. I have seen all of the movies in the theaters and in video format. I even own the play, The Cursed Child.

When you look at the content on your blog, in your social media posts, etc., you must ask yourself, how much of this could be put together to create a PDF to give away or even a book? I know several successful published authors who have made best-selling books from their blogs posts over a year.

When you create a video, consider making a transcript of the video, splitting off an audio file or the power point you used in it. Now you have a podcast and a document you can put on document sharing sites. Each of which will point back to your website.

One other little J.K. tip in the area of content. In each of her following books in the series, J.K. refers back to elements of previous books , so that someone picking up a book in the middle of the series that hasn’t read the other books can be oriented to the plot, but it also has another brilliant aspect…it makes new readers want to go back and buy the previous books. And at the end of each book it previewed the content of the next book.

Referring to other content both previous and future in your documents, videos, podcasts and posts, gives your fans a feeling of continuity and a desire to explore further.

Principle #4 – Know Your Fans

When J.K. Rowling first started her site Pottermore, she was inundated with requests for more information about the books and she created an area for fans to “talk among themselves” about the books and the movies and all of the periferal products. And talk they did. She took an active part in the conversations.

When she finished the Harry Potter series she mentioned that she probably wouldn’t be writing any more about the Harry Potter world. There was an uproar in the discussion groups. And J.K. listened.

One of the unique things about her discussion groups is that she encouraged fans to write their ideas for new adventures for the Harry Potter characters. Out of that came a collaboration with a fan that produced the hit London play, The Cursed Child. Not only did she sell out over 5,000 tickets, but it continues to play to packed audiences. It will now be presented on Broadway in 2018 and they will be sold out before the play ever gets there.

J.K. Rowling has an open and personal relationship with her fans. How many of us take the time to interact with our own enthusiasts? Building a strong fan base is probably one of the most important things we can do as marketers. Having a strong fan base means that every new product that is launched from our company will be enthusiastically received (assuming we keep a standard of high quality with products we know our fans want.)

Which brings us to the key. Knowing who your ideal customer is and what they want means that every time you produce something new for them, it is tailored to their wants, needs and desires and gives you continued credibility.

When JK. wrote the first Harry Potter book back in 1997 the average reader was around 10 years old. Fast forward to 2018. Those original readers who followed the books and movies from that time are now adults with children of their own who are now being introduced to the Harry Potter books and movies.

When J.K. decided to do a new series of movies based on the wizarding world, she realized that her original fans were now adults and the first movie in the series takes this into account. She kept the wonder and feeling of the original series but translated it into a different viewpoint. The main characters are all adults and the situations apply to adult concerns like business, jobs and romance.

We should keep in mind that the needs and viewpoints of our customers also evolve over time. If we wish to create a sustainable business, we need to be sure to take this into account. By keeping up with the trends and interests of our customer base, we can be sure to be serving our fans at the highest level and they will return the favor by not only continuing to buy our products, but to also to recommend us to their friends.

Principle #5 – Be Teachable

One of the things that continues to impress me about J.K. Rowling is her ability to learn new things. She went from a starving writer, to a movie producer, to a screenwriter, to a theme park operator over the course of her career. During that process she has learned about everything from movie special effects to all of the CEO level business skills necessary to run an international concern.

J.K. learned from the best. She allowed herself to be taught by the people she hired to make her dream a reality. She took on mentors in film, promotion, product creation and business.

Who is your mentor? Even mentors have their own mentors, those who have gone before them who have the business acumen and knowlege of their chosen field to help them move forward. Regardless of how innovative your product or service may be, you must understand that certain principles still apply.

Notions Into Motion was founded on the principle that every new business can benefit from ongoing mentorship. We are aware of the concerns and challenges of startup businesses. We understand your budget constraints and time crunches. We “get” growing pains and course corrections.

This is why we have made an affordable workshop-based online marketing training system that helps you get the important things done to allow you to move from business startup to sustainable, scalable business growth, to eventually the business empire that can be as big as you can imagine.

You don’t have to go it alone. Our cooperative marketing model allows you to hobnob with your fellow wizards and learn exactly what you need to know in order to do real business magic. So get on board the Notions Into Motion express and come to the wizarding school for netrepreneurs. Your wand is waiting.


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Great post! I love the way you call out all the ‘1 hour a week’ empty promises – digital marketing can be time consuming, but when done well it also reps great results