How To Kill Your Inbound Marketing Characters Like George Martin

09 Jul 2013
| Last update: 08 Dec 2014

Writing good content, whether it is for supporting your inbound marketing efforts, or just for gaining a voice through blogging, involves creating characters.It involves creating powerful characters that stick with you and make you want to reach out to them, learn more about them, discover their hidden bios and just get to know all the “behind the scenes” details about them.

These powerful characters also make you imagine sitting right next to them, they make you imagine what future they will have and how that’ll relate to yours and they usually make for great debates with your friends: think Siri for iOS.

There is one author who is especially good at portraying powerful characters that people either hate, or love. His name is George Martin and recently there has been an uproar on the interwebs about his sadic desire to kill off his characters, in particular at very unexpected moments in time, or in some grand manner. Readers of his “Song of Fire and Ice” series or the viewers of the Game of Thrones TV Series will certainly recall: Red Wedding.

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One tweet related to Red Wedding shall forever be my favorite: why doesn’t George Martin use Twitter? Because he killed all 140 characters.


The viewers of his TV Show (from HBO) and the readers of his books enjoy his characters very much… But then, he just kills them off.

I’ve seen many marketers do the same thing over and over again, so this really makes me think there should be a guide on killing characters “the right way” (whatever that means).

If you really want to do it in style, though, and be G. (as in Gangsta) Martin worthy, then you first need to build your powerful characters and only afterwards kill them off in a fashionly manner.

What I tried to do here is to depict some common ways to create, then kill off characters, as well as some more extravagant ways of killing characters, from two great Ex-CEOs.Read on..

1. Characters in Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing is the form of marketing that involves solely attracting people to a marketer’s stories. For every story, there needs to be at least one character.

In some cases, the character is the Company, for which the narrator tells very interesting stories, in order to get the reader’s attention and he does it in such way that the reader (otherwise known as the prospect) starts falling in love with the company depicted in those stories.In some other cases, the story becomes more complex and there are more than one characters present in the story line: the CEO (Steve Jobs, anyone?), the best Graphic designer on the team (like John Romita Jr. from Marvel Comics), or perhaps all the employees of the company presented as one happy familly (think: Zappos).

2. Traits of character

Every good character has to be designed in a certain way, but the final purpose for each and every character (if done correctly) is to have the audience either love or hate that particular character.Noah Kagan from AppSumo actually had an interesting talk about giving the audience (or the customer) a “Lovegasm”. Here’s what it involved:

1. Figuring out your hells:
The “Hell No!”s and the “Hells Yeah!”. Basically figuring what what you stand for, to what you’ll say no, and to what you’ll certainly say yes!
No: “We don’t do that!”, “We don’t serve that!”, etc.
Yes: “We always deliver WOW through UX!”, “We offer Excellence in Customer Service”.
2. Value
Think of the value that character brings (if it’s a brand, works for both company brand or personal brand).
3. Consistency
The Audience needs to start having certain expectations from a certain character, and these expectations must be met, time and time again.
Think Spider Man’s way of always failing somehow in social situations, because of his big mouth.
4. Authentic
I’ll personally write about this a little bit later in this article.
5. Surprise
Have the character offer some kind of surprise. Make something surprising about the character. It should, of course, be the nice kind of surprise 🙂

6. PersonalHere’s the video if you want to go through all of it:

You see that the steps described here are actually very helpful in building a strong, loveable character that portrays a certain company. It can very well be your own company, the company you work for, or your own personal brand.

There are a few other ideas that you could take into account when building your character. These will help you a lot if you’re building a character for a personal brand:

1. Share Your Background
Let your audience who you are and where you come from, especially if it’s relevant to what you’re doing now, or if it’s a total 180 degrees change in your life (people do love that in a character, fighting Destiny and what they were supposed to be).
2. Share Your Personal Stories
Personal stories can get you close to your audience and it may open them up to you.
3. Personality Flaws
Think: Tony Stark and mostly Iron Man 3.
Share some of your failed stuff or things in which you fail. It humanizes your character and makes it more likeable.
4. Have Strong Opinions
And once you have them, be consistent about these opinions.
5. Us Versus Them System

Mac users versus Windows Users, iOS versus Android, Do-ers versus Whine-ers.By now, you have seen the important traits a loveable and powerful character should have.

3. Getting people to like your character

If your character has been made according to the above recipes, you should start getting some feedback from trusty industry peers and / or partners.Note: make sure your character is authentic, whether it’s for your personal brand or your company. If you don’t do this, people will find out sooner or later. They always do, and it could have a negative impact upon the way they see and trust your brand.

If you are already a blogger and have been blogging for quite sometime, I’m 90% sure that you know other bloggers quite well. Ask for their opinion. See what they think about your character.

After you’ve “validated” your character with your trusted peers, get your character out into the world and soon, the audience you build the character for, will start falling in love with it.

4. Now it’s time to kill your character! 


I know I’ve named this: How to Kill Your Character, so here’s some good ways to do it, G. Martin style.

3 Ways to Kill Your Characters Off!
If you’ve ever played Mortal Kombat, you could call these: Finishing Moves

Fatality 1:

Your audience has just warmed up to your character and started to grow fond of your character. Good time to kill him now!Suggested approach: Stop being consistent with updating your blog. This is a sure way to kill of any interest that you have gained for your blog until now.

Suggested approach number 2: Change all the traits of your character, make him completely different. That will certainly and ultimately kill it off for your audience. The chances of succes for this approach are very high. George Martin would award you.

Shao Khan would scream: “Superb!”

Fatality 2:

Your character has generated great interest and people are talking a lot about it. There seems to be no way of stopping it.Suggested approach: offer everyone limited discounts, that are actually more expensive than what you’ve initially offered to the market. This will make people not trust your character anymore and lose all interest. An actor without an audience is quite dead.. Macaulay Culkin knows that..

Suggested approach number 2: Have your character complain all the time and post many negative or even spammy things all over the web.

This approach is more prone to succeed in a shorter amount of time. So if you wanna kill your character fast, this is the right way to do it.

Shao Khan would scream: Flawless Victory! (if you want to hear the sound, check out:


Have your character in the spotlight and make a public video about it. Two Ex-CEOs seem to really have gotten the hang of this method. Look:

Bill Gates seems to have learned from the best and knows how to do it in style. Poor Windows Vista character ..

Here’s also a video by John McAfee, creator of the popular McAfee anti-virus software, where he really destroys his creation:

This last one was just horrible and full of bad taste. Exactly what it takes to kill off your character (even though I’m pretty sure George Martin wouldn’t appreciate this one).
Take Aways:
Create Powerful Characters using some of the guidelines that I’ve outlined in Section 2.
Validate them before you release them into your stories, so that you make sure people will really like them.

Avoid Killing Them, by looking out for some of the fatal ways in which you can kill your characters (as described in Section 4).

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