Lessons For Young Brokers from Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Judging by the weekend box office reports, most of world has now seen the latest installment in my favorite movie franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The movie grossed over $247m domestically and $528m globally in the first weekend, breaking the opening weekend records previously held by Jurassic World.

The Disney marketing machine has rolled out this movie in full force (no pun intended). They used all of the tools at their disposal, even going so far as to debut the trailer on Monday Night Football, and put tickets on sale at the same time. You can barely watch any TV without seeing some commercial tie-ins, including Subway, Duracell and countless others.

And then there’s the actual movie. The reviews have been very positive and have credited JJ Abrams with reinvigorating the franchise after the three prequels, which were widely panned. As a fan, Abrams incorporated what he loved about Star Wars as a kid into The Force Awakens, and some of the reviews commented on the similarities between this movie and the original. One review went so far as to call it a “remake”.

I loved seeing the old characters back in action, but also immediately felt connected to the new characters. The pacing felt similar, and Abrams went away from computer generated imagery (CGI) and built sets that were reminiscent of the original trilogy. There’s even a bar scene.

Abrams took what was great about the original trilogy, and with the help of amazing marketing, turned this movie into a massive success.

So how is Star Wars connected to corporate real estate?  It’s a stretch, but I try to find lessons anywhere I can, especially from those who knock it out of the park.

I found two major lessons that I will keep in mind as I work on my 2016 business plan.

First, use all of the tools that your company has to offer. For me, CBRE has tools and service lines that can help us win business. It’s not always apparent; the same way I never thought Disney would use Monday Night Football to launch the trailer. If you don’t work at a large firm, what other companies can you partner with to advance your business? Disney helped deliver the Star Wars message with advertising partners, creating win-win relationships. Who can you partner with both internally and externally to win business?

Second, look at past success to inform future pursuits. Being a young broker is tough, but if you’ve had any success, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Figure out what has worked in the past, and why, try to duplicate it, and build upon it. Abrams followed the path blazed by the original trilogy. He listened to feedback, studied what worked and tried to take it to the next level.  Needless to say, he succeeded!

Abrams and the Disney marketing team have breathed new life into the Star Wars franchise by using the best of the past and the present, and leveraging the Disney platform to its maximum advantage. When you consider your 2016 business plan, I suggest you do the same.

May the force be with you.