How Conan O’Brien Can Inspire Your Small Business Marketing

As one of the most famous talk-show hosts on TV today, Conan O’Brien has clearly mastered the art of marketing. Yes, a weird thing to say about a comedian, but it’s true. Using his incredible wit, loyal fan-base, and an innate mastery of social media, he has made massive strides in the past decade.

It’s time to learn how he markets and apply those strategies to your small business. You ready?

All Small Businesses Could Use Marketing Help

Any small business owner who claims he doesn’t need help marketing is clearly not busy enough to be telling the truth (unless he’s already got a great creative team). If you run your own small business, you know. When your marketing campaigns are working, you don’t have time to be the marketer.

Even if your marketing working well and keeping you busy, nobody complains about growing faster. That’s why we as small business owners constantly seek to improve our strategies and create more growth every day.

Not All Of Conan’s Tactics Will Translate

Ok, let’s be real for a second. Conan built his career on goofy behavior. Not everything he did to market himself and grow his fanbase will work for you. That’s ok, though. We’re not looking to copy him.

It’s time to pick apart the marketing strategies he implemented and see how they tick. We’re going to look at the core of his tactics so we can easily transform them into actionable strategies for your business.

Conan O’Brien Has Had Epic Marketing Success That Small Businesses Can Duplicate

Even though his specific marketing tactics can’t be replicated, the basic formulas can. And that’s an awesome thing for your marketing plan. So here’s a look at Team Coco’s strategies from the past decade that will inspire you to take your small business’ marketing plan to the next level.

Methodically Leverage Social Media

Conan is a television record-breaker. In 2010, Conan left his contract with NBC and found himself in a bind. He was temporarily contractually obligated to not be on television, so he had to do something to make his next move work. He immediately took to social media.

With a Twitter following of 1.8 million, 350,000 Facebook Fans, and a YouTube channel with over 11 million views (all at the time of his campaign), Conan planned a nationwide comedy tour and had it booked in 2 hours. He then proceeded to use his social following to build the Team Coco campaign, which added 112,000 more Twitter followers and a website, as well as a Foursquare campaign attached to a Team Coco blimp.

Then, as final proof that he mastered social media nearly a decade ago, he began promoting his (then) new TBS talk show. His campaign was so successful that he set a cable television viewership record as 4.2 million viewers tuned in to the premier. Nuts, right?

As you plan out your social strategies, tightly weave them together. Make a plan that puts all your networks to use, forcing your followers to tune in on all of them if they want the whole picture. Make sure they get something valuable, like knowledge or entertainment – whatever fits your brand – out of every channel.

Innovate Like Never Before

Back in 2013, Conan made a bid to do what nobody in media had done before. He was going to conquer LinkedIn to become an influencer (which pretty much anyone can be now). He immediately launched in to a full-blown campaign full of his unique brand of comedy, which LinkedIn was not prepared for. He (more likely his staff) built a network of connections quickly, and he filled his profile with these tantalizing tidbits.

  • Work Experience: Temporary consultant on the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.
  • Work Experience: Lighting Designer at Applebee’s International.
  • Under the test scores section, his blood pressure was listed at 120/80.
  • Certified Minister of the Universal Life Church.
  • Coursework included “Build Wealth the Trump Way”, and the hilariously titled follow up, “Build Wealth by Suing Donald Trump Over Failure to Build Wealth”.
  • The one everyone can relate to: under skills & expertise, Conan listed “blaming my father” and “pretending to listen” alongside Microsoft Excel. Skills so many of us could use.

In just a month, Conan became an influencer and published his first article, Hello, LinkedIn. Full of Conan humor, the article was not received well by the overall community. Users called him out for not using the site professionally, but inevitably fell in to the growing Team Coco frenzy.

Figure out unique ways to break into platforms you’ve previously had trouble on. Forget the traditional way of doing things, instead opting for something that both suits your brand image and disrupts the norm. When you can shake things up for that added attention, you’ll see a whole new explosion of attention that you need to grow.

Stay True To Your Brand

Less a marketing stunt and more a testament to his values, Conan chooses to do what he believes is right, even when it might get him in trouble. You see, Conan’s loyalty to his team – the people that make Team Coco happen – is one of the most important career qualities Conan possesses.

During the writer’s strike in 2007, Conan took care of the salaries of 80 of his employees until the dispute ended. That commitment to his team has built a connection that can’t be broken, and his team remains loyal to his cause. When the public caught wind of it, their respect and admiration for his choice to do right first let his fans know that their loyalty to his brand was a smart choice.

By standing by your principles, you create a foundation of trust among your clients. They know that you’ll choose what you believe is right, and they’ll have the courage to openly support your cause. That foundation is what makes all your marketing have a strong impact. Without trust, your message will be ignored.

In The End, Planning Your Small Business Marketing Strategy Is The Key

No matter what you do, your plans must be laid out in advance. Just because you understand what Conan does that makes his strategies successful doesn’t mean you can just “wing it”. There is way more to the strategy than that.

With this many moving pieces, a pre-panned marketing strategy is an absolute. It’s too easy to lose track of everything without one. Get your plan together and go change your marketing like Conan would.

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.