What Strictly Come Dancing can teach us about marketing

Over 10 million people watch Strictly Come Dancing in the UK – the sequins, the celebrity injuries, the judges, the behind-the-scenes romances – we can’t get enough of it.

The Saturday night programme….. the Sunday night results show….. the sneak peaks backstage on the midweek evening show….. it’s a full-time job keeping up with all the Strictly news.

But why?

What is it about Strictly that has us so captivated?

And how can that help your business?

1. The first thing we love is the celebrities – rumours abound before the first show about who is going to be in it this year.  Then the launch show reveals who we’ll be watching for the next three months.  From then on, we start to care about them, about their tears, sprained ankles, sweaty t-shirts, about how they mastered that tricky snake-hips move in the salsa.

In business, people like to know who they’re dealing with – they like to know the personalities behind the brand. Richard Branson is one of the biggest names in British business – he left school with no qualifications, and is now one of the country’s top entrepreneurs, along with Alan Sugar (sorry, I mean ‘Lord Sugar’).  Their personalities are a lot to do with their business success.

You are one of the key strengths of your business.  Not what you know, or what you do, or who you know – but you.  Put yourself out there and share a bit about how you set the business up, what motivated you to start a new business, what have been your biggest challenges, your mistakes (and how did you overcome them and learn from them).  Show your customers that you’re human so they can relate to you.

2. The presentation – Strictly has all the sparkle and bling of a fairytale castle.  The sequins are everywhere – on the dresses, the shoes, the hair, the glitterballs, the title sequence, the television trailers, the exercise DVDs that come out after every series…. the brand of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ is almost as big as the show itself.

Being consistent in how you present your business is crucial to branding.  What are your brand values?  Cheap and cheerful?  Environmentally friendly and organic?  High end luxury?  Cutting edge and on trend?  Whatever your values, carry them consistently through all your marketing communications, in the language, the images, the font, the colours on your direct sales letters, leaflets, adverts, posters, website – everywhere.  Be consistent – and sparkle.

3.  It makes us feel good about ourselves – all those bright smiles, fake tans, dancing, live music – in the current economic climate, with spending cuts, dark evenings drawing in and temperatures falling, a weekly dose of pearly whites and sequins cheer us up.

What do you offer to bring sunshine into your customers’ lives?  A limited special offer, a timely email reminding them to tax the car (probably only a good plan if you’re a car mechanic), an email giving tips on search engine optimisation…..

4.  Being involved – “But don’t call yet – lines open at the end of the show.”  And when they do open, I’m one of the first to pick up the phone and vote again and again for my favourite (the rather lovely Scott from Eastenders at the moment…..).  Being involved means I care about the show, and I feel like my call (okay, calls) makes a difference to the results and who has to face the terrifying dance off.

Think how you can involve your clients in your business.  One way conversation is never much fun, and it normally turns into preaching or lecturing – two way is always more interesting for both you and them.

Ask your customers for their advice on a new product, for their feedback on your latest promotional campaign, for their ideas on a new product line.

Encourage comments on your website and your Facebook page – being involved builds loyalty, and helps you provide great customer service.

Loyalty+great customer service = sales.

5.  Real time updates – if you’re a true fan of Strictly, you’re probably never less than three clicks away from an update on rumba practice and Ann Widdecombe’s twisted ankle.  There’s the blog, Facebook and Twitter, plus the BBC2 show on weekday evenings, and you can’t turn on breakfast TV without an interview with some of this year’s contestants.

Give your customers plenty of opportunities to keep up with your company’s news – tweet the names of clients you’re working with, tweet links to articles your customers will find helpful, poll your customers on facebook page to get their feedback on your latest campaign.  Involve them, a lot.

PS Don’t worry about Ann’s ankle – she’s fine.

6. Watercooler conversation – the main topic of conversation on Monday mornings in offices throughout the land is either X factor or Strictly, or both.  If you don’t watch either, it’s difficult to join in.  Strictly is mainstream, and lots of people (me included) have started watching it so they knew what was going on prior to those chats about Felicity Kendall’s dress or Paul Daniels’ first dance on Monday mornings.

You can generate similar buzz about your business – get people talking about you and your products, and your reputation will grow.  Viral marketing is one way (more on this in a later post) but also offering great service, delivering on your promises and being exceptional (simple right?).

What do you think?  Which of these techniques do you use already?  And which do you think could help your business the most?  Share in the comments below.

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