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Posted: September 21, 2012

Harry Potter’s seven secrets to business success

Take a few lessons from the boy wizard

Theresa M. Szczurek

Have you ever seen such a thing? People pay a large amount of money to get the opportunity to stand in the hot sun for over an hour in a long line to be able to shop in a certain store. Then when they finally get into the store, they spend lots of money buying theme products. Unbelievable? That's what hundreds of Muggles (non-magical types) did at "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter," as part of the newest attraction in Universal Studios in Orlando. Wouldn't every business love becoming an international craze with huge demand?

Over spring break 2011, I experienced with my daughter one of the biggest business successes. People of all ages traveled in from all over the world and spent lots of money for parking, entrance fees, food and products. As a Harry Potter fan, I must admit it was brilliant and the Hogwart's Castle ride whereby you experienced being on a broom in a Quiddtich Match with Harry was the best ride ever.

Seven Practical Pointers. What are the Harry Potter business success strategies? What can we learn and apply to our businesses?

1. Start with an exceptional product or service. The Harry Potter book series by pauper-turned-billionaire J. K. Rowling was one of the biggest and most profitable publishing phenomena. My daughter has read all seven books hundreds of times - no lie. The product is different, is filled with characters readers can related to, is action-filled with magic and suspense addressing a universal good versus evil topic, and hit at the right time. By dividing the book into many parts, there was anticipation for the next part of the story. One of the most important P's of marketing, have the right product.

2. Be responsive to the market, your customers. Here is another important P of marketing, know and respond to the people. Wouldn't it be great if your customers can't stop thinking, dreaming, and talking about you firm and your service? Your customers are your most important asset - without them you would have no revenue, you would be out of business. If you make sure your customers are happy, they will keep coming back and make sure you are happy. How often do you ask your customers and prospects what their pain is and how you can best resolve it? Harry Potter fans

3. Leverage success to breed more success. The bestselling book, led to sell-out movies, which led to in-demand products, overflowing amusement parks, and much more. It is the same concept that Starbuck's and other well-known brands have used for concentric diversification and additional revenue streams.

4. Go viral. Harry Potter came out just as social media channels began to take hold. Readers spread the word to other readers. When the park was about to be announced, the top 10 Harry Potter bloggers were invited to a private meeting. They then spread the word virally. Within 24 hours, millions knew about it. How can you use this most important promotional tool (another P of marketing)?

5. Think BIG. Believe everything is possible. Be open to the possibilities. Use the Attraction Strategy to power the pull (as explained in Chapter 8 of Pursuit of Passionate Purpose,

6. Surround yourself with great people. Harry had Hermione and Ron, and Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix who were united in a common set of values. Rowling found a great publisher and other support team members.

7. Be lucky. It is said that luck comes when preparation meets opportunity. Believe, prepare, and then act. It is useful to be lucky.

Theresa M. Szczurek, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Radish Systems, is a serial technology entrepreneur. The story of her last start-up, which sold for more than $40 million in less than six years, is included, along with her strategies for success, in the Amazon-bestseller Pursuit of Passionate Purpose: Success Strategies for a Rewarding Personal and Business Life., and @TheresaSzczurek on twitter.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Nathan -- you HAVE a great product (The Boardroom Executive Suites), but are constrained a bit by the market that is saturated with office space now. The "great people" is a bit more difficult, although you also have a great staff. As for "luck," I don't believe in it. I believe in doing what we can to make our own opportunities. You're right, those who trust to "luck" often wind up broke and/or drunk. The other tips are great, and a fun use of a popular phenomenon. One thing to add, though, is "Have the use of endless money to saturate the marketplace with your product," as the Potter films and books did. By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 05 08
I hate to be such a cynic here, but are these 7 steps really all that useful for the majority of us when three of them include, "Start with an exceptional product or service," "Surround yourself with great people," and "Be lucky"? Creating an exceptional product or service is what most of strive to do every day, and yet almost everyone will toil away for a lifetime without becoming billionaires... Surrounding ourselves with great people can be equally as challenging as great employees, who share your drive, intellect and passion are few and far between (even with 9% unemployment)... and "Be Lucky"?!? Am I really reading that as sound business advice? With that suggestion, I might as well take out a 2nd mortgage and head to Vegas. By Nathan Jansch on 2011 05 06
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