This past Saturday, at 88 ½ years old, Betty White became the oldest person to host Saturday Night Live (SNL). On top of that, she garnered the highest ratings since Ben Affleck hosted the show in 2008. She may be old, but the woman definitely knows how to get viewers, a legion of fans on Facebook and a slew of future gigs. What keeps Betty White so relevant and what can business owners learn from Betty White’s career to help them market their businesses? Read on to find out.
1. Unexpected Marketing Strategy:
Betty White is the foul-mouthed old lady we love.
Ever since she was on The Golden Girls, Betty White’s been talking about a lot of subjects (like sex) we would typically consider inappropriate for women of her age to talk about. It’s completely unexpected and generally hilarious. She differentiates herself from other classy, unapproachable actresses her age, such as Angela Lansbury and Judy Dench, by being funny. And she stands out from the crowd of young comedians by putting funny people half her age to shame. Finally, she’s cool enough to share a stage and a hug with Jay-Z, which is a ridiculous pairing that also makes a lot of sense.
When marketing your business, think about your potential “Betty Whites.” What can you do to differentiate your services or products and make them seem unique and unexpected? Also, what can you pair or bundle together that could attract different customer demographics? Your old lady vs. hip hop king, if you will. Remember, Betty White attracts the viewers; Jay-Z gets them to keep watching the show until the very end. Similarly, you want to get customers in the door (whether physically in your store or traffic to your e-commerce site) and stay until they’ve purchased and left you all sorts of wonderful comments and reviews.
As a small business owner, you probably don’t have the big marketing budget that corporations have, but you can definitely get creative with your marketing strategy that will make you as popular as Betty White. Check out: Top 3 Ways to Market Your Small Business, Guerilla-Style
2. Social Media:
Betty White knows what Facebook is.
In her opening monologue on SNL, Betty White referenced the grassroots Facebook campaign that got her to host the show. Betty joked that Facebook is a “waste of time,” but it kind of came off as ironic, since over half a million people joined the Facebook group to help put Betty on SNL. The point is that social media has become so mainstream that it’s significantly affecting the lives of people who have never even used it or know what it is. Like it or not, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace and the like are powerful marketing vehicles. If you’re not on Twitter or Facebook yet, you’re missing out on a number of opportunities to connect with potential customers, clients and business affiliates. And if an 88 year-old woman like Betty White knows about Facebook poking, you’d better make sure you do too.
Why We Wish Betty White Was Our Grandma
Betty White’s appearance on SNL not only proved her success as an actress and comedian, but in a calculated way, also got her a fresh generation of fans who’ve probably never seen The Mary Tyler Moore Show or The Golden Girls but do know Tina Fey, MacGruber and Jay-Z. The regular SNL players were adeptly used as the supporting cast to Betty White’s comedic genius, which shone through in every skit.
Betty White’s SNL appearance was successful because it aimed at appealing to a younger audience. It’s a great example of targeted marketing. Targeted marketing helps focus your marketing efforts so that you’re more successful. When targeting a specific demographic, market to your customers’ established likes and familiar brands or products. This requires you to get into the minds of your targets and can be the hardest thing for a marketer to do. To help demystify consumer thoughts and buying patterns, try to poll your customers or encourage them to leave feedback. Use email marketing services to send surveys to capture important demographic data.
As Betty White knows, it’s also a good idea to get the youth on your side. Keeping your finger on the pulse of current trends helps keep your business current and competitive. You may not be able to hug Jay-Z, but try to think of other ways for you to connect to the people who can spread the word about you on Facebook.
4. Viral Marketing:
Betty White’s Genius Soundbytes
Everything that comes out of Betty White’s mouth is pure gold. It’s quotable and viral and keeps people (like me) talking about her comedic genius long after the SNL episode aired. Her YouTube videos get anywhere from 50,000 to over a million hits-an admirable feat. Lately, a lot of businesses are jumping on the viral video trend. (Just check out this video for MailChimp’s iPhone app.) Videos, links, images, etc. that can be forwarded with the click of a button generate fast results. And the best part about this type of marketing is that it’s extremely low cost. All you need is a YouTube account and a video camera, and you can make your own commercials.
Check out Betty White’s Snickers commercial for the SuperBowl (which has nearly two million hits on YouTube):
5. Iconic Branding:
The White Hair, The “White” Name
Betty White is not simply a talented actress and comedian; she’s an American icon. She’s a funny old lady with a generic name. But, somehow, the name and the white hair and just work. It actually lets you put a face with the name, and it’s a silly coincidence that someone can laugh at. In general, it only adds to her loveable persona.
As I mentioned before (7 Rules for Choosing the Perfect Small Business Name) the trick when branding your business is to create positive connotations and emotions for customers. You want to be the one name and face people think of when their searching within your niche. And you definitely want to use social media, targeted marking and viral marketing to help people connect with your brand and image.
To be as iconic, successful and relevant as Betty White is takes a lot of hard work and the right stuff. She got where she is today because she’s naturally funny. To be a small business owner, you’ve got to be a lot like Betty: good at what you do, passionate about connecting with people and still alive and kicking when the odds are against you.