By Jeff Beals
When I was a kid, I loved watching television on Sunday nights because that was when Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom was on NBC.
What a great show! It was amazing how much action and breathtaking photography could be packed into one 30-minute nature program.
The genteel host Marlin Perkins would narrate (and watch from the safety of the Jeep or helicopter) while hard-working sidekick Jim Fowler would wrestle a crocodile or subdue a giant armadillo.
Not only was Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom an enjoyable show, it was a useful role model for my current work. Mutual of Omaha was ahead of its time. Wild Kingdom is a fairly early example of a type of marketing/promotion that is especially prevalent in today’s social media-influenced marketplace.
Let me explain…
Mutual of Omaha is a Fortune 500 insurance company. Executives were searching for a unique way to advertise back in the early 1960s. They found that opportunity with Wild Kingdom and implemented it flawlessly.
The show was never about Mutual. Instead, the show was about the animals, the hosts and the opportunity for regular folks to watch stunning nature footage in their own living rooms.
Mutual of Omaha built up amazing goodwill by bringing fascinating content to viewers and associating itself with that content. Perkins would sometimes introduce Mutual’s commercial breaks by seguing from the show content. In other words, “Just as a mother lion protects her cubs, you can protect your family with insurance from Mutual of Omaha…”
Some of my readers know that in addition to my work as a speaker and author, I’m in charge of marketing for a regional commercial real estate firm. In 2004, a colleague and I launched a radio talk show focusing on business happenings in our local marketplace. Because we worked in commercial real estate, the show had a special emphasis on construction and real estate development.
When designing the show’s format, I remembered how much I loved Wild Kingdom as a kid and how much I respected Mutual of Omaha for making it possible.
I copied that model. My new show was NOT about me. It was NOT about my co-host. It was NOT about our company. It was about the content we covered. Sure, we made sure people knew what company was responsible for it, but the show’s content stood on its own merit.
And it worked! Eleven years later, we are still on the air and our program is one of the most popular talk shows in our local marketplace.
No matter what your business and no matter what you sell, you benefit when you give away something of value for absolutely nothing in direct return.
Today’s social media culture has made give-aways even more important. People want compelling content (or desirable stuff) for nothing. If the content is good enough and you positively associate yourself with it, you can profit handsomely. The key is to make it about the interesting stuff first and you second.
Maybe you are already doing this. If so, assess how effective it is. Do you need to increase the quality of what you provide?
If you are not currently giving away value to sell things of even greater value, you’re missing out. We are operating in the “gifting culture.” Give people what they love and interject your brand or product benefits just enough to create memorable, positive association.
If you do this properly, people will seek you out instead of you having to do all the chasing.
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 637-9300.
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