Five Law Marketing Lessons from The Princess Bride’s Man in Black

Posted by Larry Bodine | Feb 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

You can follow the example of the Man in Black when creating a marketing campaign.

Continuing our theme of marketing lessons from our favorite movies, here is an insightful guest post by Michael David.

When he introduces The Princess Bride to his grandson, Peter Falk's character describes it as a story about “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge” as well as “giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love” and of course, “miracles.” But what he left out was the fact that it is actually a great story about marketing. Here are five things you can learn about marketing from one of The Princess Bride's most intriguing characters, The Man in Black.

  1. Tailor Your Marketing To Your Audience

  2. The Man in Black has a wide set of skills, but he knows exactly when to use each one. He takes the time to understand his opponents and then chooses the right tactic to defeat them. When he is fighting Inigo, he uses his skill with the sword; when fighting Fezzik, he uses his speed and agility to defeat the stronger but slower giant. When he battles Vizzini, he uses his intelligence (but more importantly, his understanding of Vizzini) to trick him into drinking the poisoned wine. Your potential clients aren't opponents, but you can follow the Man in Black's example when creating a marketing campaign. Take the time to understand your target demographic. A bankruptcy lawyer may need to target people with a different income level than an estate lawyer. How old are the people in your target demographic? Are they people who still get the Sunday paper, or should you consider advertising on a mobile platform? Do the people in your target demographic speak English fluently, or are they more comfortable with Spanish? Understanding your target demographic and tailoring your message to their specific circumstances and needs will greatly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your advertisements.

  3. Be Willing To Go Where Others Will Not

  4. Eventually Buttercup realizes the Man in Black is her beloved Westley, but their reunion is cut short when Prince Humperdinck and his men come riding up. The Man in Black has to make a split second decision, so he heads into the Fire Swamp knowing that no one will dare to follow. Be willing to try things others will not. Maybe no other firm in your area has taken the time to understand Instagram, which is all the more reason to check it out. Are others ignoring the local paper or afraid to market to non-English speakers? Going where your competition won't may require some extra creativity or attention to detail, but it can pay great dividends if it brings in new clients.

  5. Be Resourceful

  6. Inigo and Fezzick learn resourcefulness from The Man In Black.

    When the Man in Black agrees to help Fezzik and Inigo storm the castle and crash the wedding, he asks them to list their assets. Since he has been “mostly dead” all day, he isn't feeling his best and doesn't think that his brains, Fezzik's strength, and Inigo's steel will be enough to defeat sixty men. Even in his weakened state, however, he realizes that all he really needs is a wheelbarrow, a large black cloak, and a bit of fire. The three allies use their limited resources to scare away the 60 men guarding the castle gate and set on their way to avenging Inigo's father and rescuing Buttercup. Learn a lesson from the Man in Black and be resourceful. You might not need an enormous budget and a complex strategy to successfully advertise your firm's services. Use the resources you have. Take advantage of free access to social media, call a friend who is a talented graphic designer, or encourage your current clients to refer their family and friends by rewarding them with a discount on services or a gift card to a local restaurant. That way, the next time your client's sister-in-law needs a car accident lawyer in Toronto, she will call you first.

  7. Keep Your Branding Consistent

  8. When Buttercup and Westley are reunited, she learns that instead of being killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts, Westley has taken over for him. It turns out that the original Dread Pirate Roberts has been retired in Patagonia for some time, and a string of successors has carried on his reputation; Westley explains that the name is what really matters. As long as the name gets passed on, the new Dread Pirate will be just as fearsome as the original. Westley, the Man in Black, and the Dread Pirate Roberts are all the same man. This is made possible by consistent branding. As long as he follows the patterns established by his predecessors, Westley makes a very convincing Dread Pirate Roberts. Follow his example by remembering the importance of consistent branding. Your firm may have multiple attorneys and many paralegals, all with different personalities and ways of getting things done, but make sure they are all sending the same message to current and future clients. Not all the attorney's need to dress exactly the same, but if one wears tailored suits every day and another shows up in jeans, your clients aren't getting a consistent message. Take a few simple steps to ensure your branding is consistent. Have business cards made for all the attorneys and paralegals that use the same font, color scheme and layout. Make sure your logo appears the same on your website as it does in your print ads and on your Facebook page.

  9. Craft a Simple and Effective Message

  10. Early in the film, Buttercup realizes that when Westley is saying “As you wish” he means “I love you.” Later when the Man in Black wants to reveal his identity to Buttercup, all he needs are those three words. His message is simple, succinct, and unforgettable. Follow his example when you are creating a marketing campaign. Whether it is a print ad or a slogan for a radio commercial, choose your words carefully. Your message should be simple, short, and to the point. This will ensure that your firm is easy to identify and easy to remember. Follow the example of the Man in Black next time you revamp your firm's marketing strategy and look forward to emulating his record of success.

Michael David is a freelance blogger who writes about a variety of topics including marketing and entertainment. He learned a bit about law from the Law Offices of Stanley Pasternak.

About the Author

Larry Bodine

Larry Bodine is a marketer, journalist and attorney who knows how to turn website visitors into clients for trial law firms.


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