Marketing Strategy Described in a Movie Clip

Movie still of Matt Damon as his character Linus from the film Ocean's Eleven. A banner across the image reads: Ocean's

Marketing Strategy Summed Up in a Single Movie Clip

I shamelessly advocate Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 adaptation.

The short of it is this: it’s a blast of a caper movie. Overly grand, highly unrealistic, and trope-laden to an almost dizzying level. In short — it’s fantastic. Not for dramatic merit or award collecting intentions, but for its nuance, and the wink, point, nod of a movie that’s about serious business, but doesn’t take itself too seriously.

There is a pivotal scene kicking off the climax of the movie when Rusty Ryan, Daniel Ocean’s right-hand-man tells him he’s out. As in, he’s not allowed to be involved in the job anymore because of his secondary heist intentions. It’s a heavy beat that changes the nature of the team. Their fearless leader, the mastermind, is no longer involved. Now what?

On deck to make the “big switch” and blow the vault is the plucky new addition to the team, a young man named Linus, excellently portrayed by Matt Damon.

Linus has a quick 15-20 second scene shortly after stepping into his elevated role that I found so hilarious and fitting that I had to pause the movie while watching it on Netflix in order to write this down. Rusty’s instruction for Linus parallels a common marketing conversation so well that I had to share it.

His direction for Linus mirrors almost perfectly the way marketing strategists tell businesses to treat their customers. He’s giving us an outline for non-disruptive messaging that is both humorous, and effective. Here’s the clip:

In a surprisingly accurate rendition of Rusty’s advice, Linus is discernibly neutral and unimposing. He’s charming, is welcomed directly into his mark’s private office, and is able to make the pull to secure important information for the heist.

In all, he executed his marketing tactics perfectly and was rewarded with valuable target persona information. Understanding this, let’s break down what Rusty’s advice has to say about marketing.

Focus on Your Mark (Look at me)

Your audience should be your first and last priority when developing marketing collateral of any kind. At the end of the day, you are selling something: an idea, a service, a product, etc. If you don’t yet understand the needs of your customers, and why they might value your offer, nailing this down will give you a much better understanding of what you need to create.

Bring Them In (Nevada Gaming Commission)

During the execution of their plan, Linus introduces himself to their mark, Terry Benedict, as an employee from the Nevada Gaming Commission. This is a classic appeal to credibility, a statement that positions Linus (who represents the business owner) as an authority in the casino market.

Indicating thought leadership through content development, digital prowess, and strong reputation management will help a business to earn their target audience’s trust. With their trust, your personas will be more likely to respond to advertising promotions, advocate for your products, and more.

Be Brief (Don’t use seven words when four will do)

Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” and this maxim holds true for the vast majority of marketing content. With attention spans decreasing alongside the growing prevalence of digital media, this means that the more quickly you can make your point, the better.

Black and white image of Nike logo and their slogan: "Just Do It."

Be Straightforward (Don’t shift your weight)

Promotion of products, sharing differentiators, broadcasting your business acumen — all of these are excellent ways to establish brand authority. Be genuine! However, bashing competitors will get you nowhere, fast. Avoid slandering other businesses for the sake of moving forward.

Beyond fair play, If you are intentional with your marketing endeavors, you are more likely to succeed. By setting goals, your marketing efficiency will increase tremendously.

Patagonia advertisement showing a grey jacket and in large black text, the words: Don't buy this jacket. Below, there is smaller text which describes the many ways in which the jacket is not environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Personalize Your Content (Look always at your mark, but don’t stare)

People like to see personalized content — something that tells them that your business is being executed with them in mind — but they also don’t like giving away half of their life’s greater details in form field submissions. Target personas should always be in mind during the development of content, and taglines should address a specific audience. Gone are the days of “casting a wide net.”

The Catch

Though most of what Rusty tells Linus in that scene is accurate, one noticeable exception is the “forgettable” aspect. After telling Linus to not be memorable, Rusty doubles down. He says, “He’s got to like you and then forget you, the moment you’ve left his side.” This is the opposite of what we want to do with our marketing tactics.

Being memorable involves providing value to your audience and being non-disruptive — letting the leads come to you for information when needed, and allowing leads the autonomy to decide when they’re ready to become a customer. This type of marketing facilitates long-lasting customer relationships, and often advocacy.

There you have it. Ocean’s 11 gives us a 2-minute breakdown in a popular blockbuster that sums up what you need to know about inbound marketing in a comical anecdote. If you are curious how these marketing touch points line up with the business plan you’ve developed, reach out and ask about a free consultation!