While scrolling through countless numbers of Tweets this week I came across an interesting link from the magazine Fast Company. How could you not press on a link that claims a relationship between two highly unlikely elements: Mr. Rogers and marketing! I clicked on the link and was brought to an insightful blog post from Fast Company’s blogger Sam Ford.
Here is a sneak peek of the marketing lessons Ford has learned from Mr. Rogers:
- Relationship-Building Trumps Flashiness: It’s hard to imagine a children’s show getting less flashy than Fred Rogers. Most of the time, it was him directly addressing his viewers. He took us on trips to see a few guests. And he had people stop by. Even his “make-believe world” was of the decidedly low-tech sort. Yet, I don’t remember ever feeling bored when spending time with Mr. Rogers, because he replaced that flashiness by building an honest relationship with his viewers, by making the show constantly address “our” concerns…at least as best a television personality might do in the days of a one-way medium.
- Don’t Promise More Intimacy than You Can Deliver: A few months back, I distinctly remember stumbling upon an episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood in a hotel room somewhere when the most extraordinary thing happened: Fred looked into the camera, and he said something along the lines of, “I’ve really enjoyed talking with you this week. I hope I have answered a few of the questions you’ve had. I really wish I could know each and every one of you personally, but unfortunately this television show is the only way we have to talk. If you have other questions that I haven’t answered, find someone you love and who loves you in your own life and ask them.” Really, is there a more perfect mindset that brands should take, online or off?
- Be Consistent in Who You Are and What People Should Expect from You: From Fred Rogers’ first show in 1968 until his last in 2001, surprisingly little changed about Fred Rogers. That’s in part because his brand stood as a calm in the changing seas of culture. There were many subtle shifts in the nuances of his shows: the anxieties he addressed and the topics he covered. But Fred always found a way to address them from the standpoint that people expected from his brand. Mr. Rogers was a trusted friend we could always return to. Brands should be responsive to culture, should have their ears on the latest changes: but they should do so always remembering why audiences might come to them and respecting the audience’s desires in the process. Fred didn’t hire a trendspotter to map out every new clothing shift or music shift in American culture to make sure he was part of it, that he was hip. Instead, he listened to the gentle hum of “slow culture change,” and he made sure his show remained relevant for decades.
To read the other lessons and the blog in its entirety click here.