What Cobra Kai can teach you about marketing

Ok, let’s get one thing clear – there has been no endorsement from Netflix or the makers of Cobra Kai for me to write this article.

But I will confess I’m a huge fan and it seems many others are too, with an 8.7 on IMDB and 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, check out either to see what all the fuss is about if you’ve not been fortunate to watch it yet. What struck me whilst watching, there were as many lessons on marketing that can be taught from Cobra Kai as there are on Karate.

For the uninitiated (shame on you), Cobra Kai picks up the story of the two main protagonists from the original Karate Kid, Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso, 34 years after their epic fight in the final of the All Valley Karate championship. Johnny decides to re-open his old dojo (Karate training centre), whilst Daniel runs a very successful car dealership, whose brand/ethos is based on his karate training/mentor, Mr Miyagi.

Here’s what Cobra Kai can teach you about marketing:

  1. Be brand authentic – your brand should ideally be based on a truth that represents what you offer – it should be the customer outtake when they see your advertising, visit your website or purchase from you. It should also be consistent, as it’s more likely to be remembered. If it’s fake or not being communicated correctly, this will become apparent. In Cobra Kai, Daniel bases his marketing on his Japanese Karate background – in his advertising and by giving away Bonsai trees with every car sold. Slightly tenuous, but his brand is his name ‘LaRusso’ and Karate is his great passion, meaning a very powerful and authentic brand story that comes through in his marketing.
  2. Messaging – can a new customer understand your offering in as little time as possible? We’re exposed to around 5,000 messages a day (source: Yankelovich), so it pays to be as concise and on message as possible. The Cobra Kai motto is: Strike first. Strike hard. No mercy which is admittedly a bit dubious, but also is memorable and encapsulates the Cobra Kai ethos.
  3. Open to new channels – sometimes, a fresh approach to how you advertise could reap benefits – no doubt there will be core channels depending on your business, but you should also be open to alternatives which could expose you to a new audience. And the beauty of a lot of direct/digital channels are you can test them at a low cost and to refine your messaging. When a fight goes viral at school and a Cobra Kai pupil is involved, it’s the right medium for the right audience and results in a surge in memberships.
  4. Synergy – when the sum of the parts is greater than individual action, yes it might mean a bit more effort and/or spend, but the results will be worth it. Of course not every communication needs to be a campaign, but you will be more effective if you can achieve as much synergy as possible. It’s a great metaphor for Karate, as Daniel teaches his students about learning all the different techniques to defend yourself, which when combined, make his pupils a more complete fighter.
  5. Know your competition – I’ve saved the best ’till last – a bit of healthy obsession with the competition is fine, in fact, I would encourage it. ‘I should just focus on my own offering’ is a reasonable response. But then how will you know where your product or service is positioned when a potential customer weighs up a purchase decision? Or when a customer finds your competitor on Google as they rank higher due to their SEO keyword strategy? Get to know your competitor and you’ll be able to ensure your product or service is unique and will stand-out to potential customers.

Competition is at the heart of Cobra Kai, in fact, it could be described as rivalry! And although each side has it’s good and bad points, they do both embrace the first four elements listed above which are successful for them in different ways.

Whereas my Karate skills are none existent, I can definitely help with formulating a plan to make your marketing more effective and help take on the competition. Get in touch here and do check out Cobra Kai too – series three has just been released on Netflix.