Marketing Lessons I’ve Learned from The X-Files

May 11, 2018

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This blog is about something very near and dear to my heart… Aliens. More specifically, the alien-centric, decades-spanning masterwork, The X-Files. This show has got it all, and, as a marketer, it has taught me lot. You have Dana Scully, the scientist with an open mind but a strong sense of integrity and insistence on evidence. Then there’s Fox Mulder, the believer with a personal mission and a faith in experience. In the middle, there are aliens and the truth. Here are 5 lesson’s I’ve learned from watching Scully and Mulder’s adventures.

drawing of brain divided into scientific and creative halves

1) Collaboration across teams makes everyone smarter.

Mulder and Scully are each amazing on their own and have significant storylines where they work their own cases. But when team up they learn a lot from each other and achieve different successes than they could solo. We all benefit from diverse expertise.

2) Evidence and imagination are both necessary.

A lot of marketing involves brainstorming and invention, and you need that creativity. But you also need the data, the hard facts, to know whether that imagination pays off. Mulder is rich in imagination, Scully in evidence interpretation. You need both to make the big breakthroughs.

3) Follow your hunch but follow it with data.

Mulder’s notions often lead to awesome potential truths, but without the data they aren’t actionable. You may be 100% positive that a hot pink “Buy Now” button will get customers to act. If the numbers don’t reflect that, maybe hold off.

4) You have to be flexible.

In turns, Mulder and Scully each change their minds, see each other’s point of view, and advocate for the opposite of their usual position. Sometimes, you end up being wrong and you have to see those failures as wins. They bring you closer to something great.

5) Stay true to yourself.

Mulder and Scully respect each other completely, but they also stick to their guns and are true to their personalities — much like your brand has a voice and identity.

If it’s been a while since you watched the original run of The X-Files, maybe give it another go. What you learn might surprise you. The truth is out there.

 

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