Sam Rose - Head of Content

Sam Rose

22nd August 2014

Breaking Bad Online: A Marketing Lesson From Walter White

A little late to the Breaking Bad party, I've developed a bit of an obsession with Heisenberg and his street smart sidekick Jesse. So here are a few things we can learn by following Walter White's example (or not) as he muddled his way through his criminal career, and some ideas on how we can apply these lessons to our online marketing.

(Warning: this article contains spoilers, but not very important ones.)

Know your target audience

"We make poison for people who don't care. We probably have the most unpicky customers in the world." - Jesse Pinkman

While that seems like a pretty easy group of people to cater for, most of us are targeting a more discerning audience. The trick is to know them so well you can ensure that every aspect of your online presence appeals to them.

Maintain strong branding

"It may be blue, but it's the bomb."  - Jesse Pinkman

Is your brand as strong as Walter and Jesse's blue meth? Whatever your brand is, it's important that this filters through every marketing channel you use - your website, your blog, social media, email marketing, and anything else you use to connect with your customers.

Target specific locations

"This is our city, alright? All of it. The whole damn place. Our territory. We're staking our claim. Yo, we sell when we want, where we want." - Jesse Pinkman

Jesse and Walt are keen to expand their business into new territory, but as they step on another gang's toes in the process it's curtains for one of Jesse's dealers, Combo. Luckily location targeting in pay per click isn't a matter of life and death; if Walt had taken an interest in AdWords instead of crystal meth, Combo might not have come to his sticky end. Unfortunately it's too late for him, but the lesson here is the same both on the street and in PPC: choose your target locations carefully.

Work with someone (or something) you trust

Gus Fring: “I have to ask why. Why him?"

Walter White: "Because he does what I say. Because I can trust him."

Throughout the series, Walt wants Jesse to be his partner, not because Jesse's smart, but because he trusts him (or, because he can manipulate him). Do the same with social media or other channels - use what you know works well for your business.

Connect with the right people

"I sure as hell didn't find myself locked in a trunk or on my knees with a gun to my head before your greedy old ass came along." - Jesse Pinkman

Whether you're having conversations on social media, link building or guest blogging, it's important to connect with relevant and important people. They may be your customers or influential people within your field. This is where you don't follow Walt's example of getting mixed up with people who will be detrimental to his business (not to mention that pesky breathing habit he refuses to give up).

Plan For The Future

"Adjusting for inflation – good state college – adjusting for inflation, say $45,000 a year, two kids, four years of college...$360,000. Remaining mortgage on the home, $107,000. Home equity line, $30,000, that's $137,000. Cost of living, food, clothing, utilities, say two grand a month? I mean, that should put a dent in it, anyway. 24K a year provides for, say, ten years. That's $240,000, plus 360 plus 137...737. $737,000, that's what I need." - Walter White

Walt knew that he needed $737,000 to provide for his family after he was gone. He was meticulous with his planning, and always noticed if Jesse came back with less money than he should have made while selling on the streets. Similarly, it's important to keep an eye on your budgets when managing PPC, to know how much budget you need and how much of it you are spending.

Meet Your Targets, Then Make New Ones

"Jesse, you asked me if I was in the meth business or the money business. Neither. I'm in the empire business." - Walter White

Some might call Walt greedy, others might say he was simply ambitious. Either way, there's no denying that he met his target of $737,000 and continued to exceed it. Sure, he didn't seem to know when to stop, but he's a prime example of setting a target, meeting it, and striving to keep doing better, which is also important when it comes to PPC.

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