Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Harry Potter Mysteries

Someone could write a great book about what marketers can learn from Harry Potter. And I’m not just thinking about the number of sales, or how fast they have been made. Certainly Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the fastest selling book in history and that is amazing, but I’m more intrigued by how Mystery has fueled the Harry phenomenon at every level. First, of course, there are the layers of Mystery at the heart of the story that have kept readers fascinated year after year. Then there’s the personal drama ignited by the way J.K. Rowling has protected her story. She has run a virtual master class in how to keep people guessing – and caring. The technical challenges overcome by the publishers, Bloomsbury, in keeping the final revelations about Harry on shelves but off the Internet, have their own fascination. However, what has astonished me has been the respect shown for the Potter Mystery by reviewers and commentators. This has been respect inspired not by the publishers or even by J.K. Rowling, but by the experience of readers. I’ve noticed what seems to me an unprecedented use of the term 'Spoiler Alert' in headlines to Potter stories. A warning to not to read what follows if readers do not want to find out what happens. Yes, the Consumer is Boss, and if you don’t respect their need to know, or need not to know, you’re in trouble. Anyone in the attraction businesses should be studying the Harry Potter experience very closely.