Business Lessons from a British Spy

In my senior year of college, I went through a dramatic, woe-is-me breakup with my long-distance boyfriend. I was back home at my parent’s house for winter break when my boyfriend who lived 2000 miles away told me he’d call me right back and oh…wait…he never did. I can tell you, there’s nothing worse than being broken up with except when you’re not broken up with. Funny how these things work.

Not having the appropriate closure that I needed (women like closure, you know) and also not having my college girlfriends in town to complain to, I decided to drown my sorrows by watching movies. I checked out my parent’s movie collection only to discover it’s hadn’t been updated much since I left for college, which means I’d seen all the movies they had several times each. Then I noticed that my dad had recently bought the entire James Bond DVD collection—from Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan and every Bond man in between. Jackpot.

007-Legends-600x300I grabbed the large 3-part box set, headed to my room with my laptop and watched one after another in my pajamas. Within a week’s time, I’d burned through the whole series. My brain was fried and my heart was no closer to being whole again (despite the fact that a good British accent has the power to cheer me up even in my darkest hour), but in retrospect, 007 taught me a valuable business lesson.

What I quickly realized is that all the James Bond movies are exactly the same. Bond might have a new car, a new gadget or a new over-the-top stunt in each one, but they all follow a pattern. The Bond movie formula goes something like this:

  • Something bad happens that threatens other people/the government/the planet
  • Bond—James Bond—is called on the scene
  • He sleeps with the bad spy girl
  • He makes headway into the problem and blows some stuff up
  • He hooks up with the good girl
  • He uses his latest and greatest new gadget and spiffy new car
  • He saves the good girl from looming death
  • There’s a twist in the plot
  • Bond saves the day and eliminates the bad guys


Did I miss anything? Well, you get the idea—each movie follows the same predictable formula.

When you watch all the movies back-to-back like I did (not quite how they’re meant to be consumed), this pattern becomes extremely monotonous. I can’t tell you how many times I fell asleep, full-well knowing that James Bond would emerge triumphant before the credits started to roll. Why would they make all the movies the same? I wondered. Surely movie lovers would want a little variety, right?


This is what I realized—the James Bond movie makers found a formula that worked really well to sell movies and they stuck with it. In turn, James Bond is one of the longest continually-running film series in history. It’s been in production since 1962 and Daniel Craig is carrying on the tradition to this day. If that’s not true movie success, I don’t know what is.

Along the same lines, if you find something that works in your business, stick with it! Do it over and over and over again. Continuously repeating effective marketing  strategies is what will ultimately lead to your business’s success.

For example, if you’ve found that networking is an effect marketing strategy that helps you land new clients or referral partners, then network your butt off. Don’t go to a networking meeting one month, present a free teleclass the next month and then run a contest the month after before you decide to go back to a networking event. If networking works for you, do that. If presenting free workshops or classes fills your customer funnel, do that. If guest blogging effectively grows your mailing list of prospects, do that.

A huge mistake that I see entrepreneurs make (and I’m guilty of doing this myself) is constantly searching for that next silver bullet marketing strategy while only briefly bulletdabbling in each method. Basically, you try one marketing strategy and then the next one and then the one after that. This will never lead to long-term success.

It’s like if you wanted to lose weight and you jump on one fad diet wagon after another. You’re on the Adkins diet, then the South Beach diet and then a raw diet. What happens? Well, you never lose weight. So naturally you start to think that none of these diets work for you. But I guarantee you that if you stuck with one of the diets, those extra pounds would melt off.

Don’t fall into this crash-dieting trap with your business marketing. Just like the James Bond creators, find one method that works and don’t deviate from it.

Now I bet you’re wondering: How can I figure out the right marketing method for my business to spend all my time and energy on?

Great question. Here’s what you can do…

Take a moment right now to do an exercise. Take out a piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle. On the left side of the page, list out each one of your current or past clients and/or customers. In the right column, write down what marketing method you used to make each sale. I don’t care if you’ve had 3 customers or 300 up to this point—spend the time necessary to construct your list.

When you’re finished, make note of the trends. If you got most of your clients through advertising on Facebook, make a plan to advertise more on Facebook. If you landed a lot of your customers by speaking at a conference, find more conferences to speak at.

Basically, do over and over the marketing strategies that have already proven to work well for you and then ditch the rest of them. When you figure out what works and repeat it, you have discovered the ticket to long-lasting business success. Go forth and conquer.

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Felena Hanson - 5 years ago

I love the advice you give through the activity. My background is in marketing and sometimes brainstorming what works vs. what doesn’t is really quite simple. Our first reaction is to find some elaborate program, app, or even hire a consultant to figure out what works when in fact we already have all of the information necessary to determine what our marketing strategy should be.

Weekly Finds | One Woman Shop - 4 years ago

[…] love this lesson on marketing from James Bond movies on Go Fire Yourself. Takeaway: Bond movies are formulaic and that’s okay- your marketing can […]

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