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What “The Simpsons” Can Teach Us About Marketing

Who doesn’t love The Simpsons? It’s the longest running, and arguably the best, non-news program in television history.  I’m part of the Simpsons Generation (I’ve always hated the term Generation X) and over the years I’ve discovered that the show is much more than an animated sitcom.  In fact, the greatest cast of characters in TV history can also provide an instruction manual for effective marketing.  Here’s what I mean:
“Uh, no, you got the wrong number. This is 9-1…2”                 – Chief Wiggum
320px-Poster_Simpsons_Cast This pearl of wisdom from Chief Wiggum teaches us that not only is it critical to get the right message out to the market, it’s just as important to make sure that every piece of the process is on the same page.  I’ve seen a lot of companies spend tons of time and money making sure that their marketing campaign strategy, message, tactics and execution were spot-on and their response rates were through the roof, only to have the whole thing fall apart at the point where the company actually had to engage with the customer. As marketers, we have to realize that the best marketing campaign ever created will fail if the customer has a bad experience when they actually do what we’re trying to motivate them to do.  On the other hand, a great customer service experience will further reinforce the brand message that yours is a company they want to engage with.  Spend the additional time and effort to make sure that everyone in the process is committed to success and you’ll find that marketing becomes a lot easier.
Last night’s ‘Itchy and Scratchy Show’ was, without a doubt, the worst episode *ever.* Rest assured, I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world.”                 – Comic Book Guy
Nothing gets past people these days, and the Internet allows consumers to immediately let everyone know exactly what they think and feel.  Whether it’s taking to social media to let all their online friends know about the great/horrible experience they had with Company X or anonymously posting on a forum about how their favorite show has jumped the shark, even the most introverted person can post their thoughts and opinions for all the (online) world to see. Marketers need to embrace this brave new consumer-driven world.  Use consumer feedback, both positive and negative, to establish a channel of communication with your customers and prospects.  Positive reviews are obviously what we all strive for, but negative comments give us a chance to really earn our keep.  In the old days if someone had a bad experience with a brand, they usually just moved on.  Now, however, consumers flock to social media and let everyone know what happened.  People also love it when companies listen to and engage with them.  By establishing a dialogue with people who have taken the time to provide feedback, marketers have an opportunity to not only learn something about their own companies, but also possibly convert their critics into advocates.
“Oh, ‘meltdown.’ It’s one of those annoying buzzwords. We prefer to call it an ‘unrequested fission surplus.’” – Montgomery Burns
Here Springfield’s oldest and wealthiest resident shows us the importance of language.  While hopefully nobody will ever need to use Mr. Burns’s terminology, it’s an excellent example of the importance of semantics and using the appropriate language for the appropriate audience in the appropriate context. As usual, Apple has become the master at simplifying language and terminology to most effectively communicate with its market.  Go on their website and look for a computer.  You’ll see a menu of products and features that are designed for the average, non-techie consumer.  For example, instead of seeing “Intel Pentium dual-core processor G630 2.7GHz, 3MB Shared Cache” as you will in the features list of a new PC, you’ll learn that the new iMac is “up to 70 percent faster than the previous generation.”  This is simple, easy to understand language that clearly communicates the same benefits.  Of course, you can still get the technical specs if you want, but the main language is very accessible and user-friendly, which makes the buying process much less intimidating and more likely to happen.
Our differences are only skin deep, but our sames go down to the bone.”                 – Marge Simpson
Good ol’ Marge – always the voice of reason.  While she’s talking about Homer and her, this simple lesson also works at a macro level.  America has never been more culturally diverse and that diversity is one of our greatest strengths.  It has also created a seismic shift in marketing as marketers rush to tailor their messages to myriad cultures and backgrounds. While it’s important to make sure that we respect and speak to the different audiences that we’re trying to reach, we also have to remember that a single brand message is critical to the success of any strategy.  At the risk of sounding like a politician, there are more issues that unite us (as Americans, as consumers, etc.) than divide us and everyone needs to hear the same central message.  Otherwise it’s just noise.
“Everything’s coming up Milhouse!”                 – Milhouse van Houten
Our final quote comes to us from Bart’s best friend, and the kid who played Fallout Boy, Milhouse.  It’s a great way to end the post because it’s a variation of what many of our customers say when they discover the advantages of working with wedü.  If you’re looking for a great team of marketing professionals to take your business to the next level, drop us a line.   Image Credit: universo dos simpsons
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