What Top Gun: Maverick can teach us about marketing

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick.


Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick.

Graham McGregor is a marketing adviser.

OPINION: I had the immense pleasure a couple of days ago of seeing a remarkable movie called Top Gun: Maverick starring Tom Cruise.

It is easily one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It has a fantastic story, amazing action sequences and I left the movie feeling great about life.

The movie was so good I plan to go back within the week and see it again.

* Why ‘good enough’ is often all you need in your marketing
* A business story makes it easy to get memorable people talking positively about your business
* Two ways to enhance your business income

The big marketing lesson I got from Top Gun: Maverick is this: give people a great story to tell about your business and make them feel good at the same time.

If you do these two things, you’ll get a truckload of word-of-mouth advertising, plus a huge amount of repeat business at the same time.

Here’s a great example of telling a great story and making people feel good. One of my favorite sources of useful ideas on life and business success is Derek Sivers.

Derek Sivers accidentally started a business by helping musicians sell their music. It became the largest online seller of independent music, with over 150,000 musicians and US$100 million in sales.

Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby.

Derek Sivers/Wikipedia

Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby.

After 10 years, he sold the company for $22m and gave all the money to charity.

Derek did a number of simple things in his CD Baby business that make his customers feel good. And gave them a great story to tell other people they know.

For example, Derek decided the confirmation email that CD Baby sent to customers when they placed an order was a bit dull. It basically said: ‘Thank you your order’ along with delivery details.

The new confirmation email said this:

Thank you for your order with CD Baby.

Your CDs have been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CDs and polished them to make sure they were in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CDs into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office, where the entire town of Portland waved ‘Bon Voyage!’ to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year”. We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you once again,

Derek Sivers, president, CD Baby

This email, meant only to be a small bit of fun, was so loved and talked about by CD Baby’s customers that it attracted over 20,000 positive mentions online.

Imagine that! Derek spent 20 minutes creating a fun email and over 20,000 customers commented positively about it on the internet.

The email made his customers feel good and gave them a great story about CD Baby to share with other people.

Derek wrote one of my favorite business books a while ago called Everything You Want, in which he shares 40 powerful lessons in a book you can read in about an hour.

Marketing adviser Graham McGregor.


Marketing adviser Graham McGregor.

Key points include

  • When you make a company, you make your utopia – your perfect world.
  • Business is not about money, it’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself.
  • By focusing entirely on thrilling your customers – even at an occasional loss – you ultimately profit more, because of the loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing that comes only when you place your customers’ needs over your own.

The book’s most memorable stories are from his horrible mistakes, like why saving 10 minutes cost him $3.3m dollars, and how he was “attacked” by Steve Jobs.

Derek’s unusual approach to business, focusing on generosity and happiness more than profits, has helped thousands of entrepreneurs to refocus on what matters and find their own path to success.

I highly recommend you get a copy of his book from Derek.


If you want to do well in business, remember the Top Gun: Maverick marketing lesson: give people a great story to share about your business and make them feel great.

Action exercise

What is a great story about your business that your clients could tell other people they know?

What can you do to make your customers feel great when they do business with you?

You can get Graham McGregor’s free marketing guide, The Plan B Sales Solution, at www.simplemarketinganswers.com.

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