You And The Oprah Factor

By Beacon Staff

Men, bear with me for a moment, this column is for you too.

When marketing a product to women, there’s one thing you simply have to try to do if you want to hit a home run. Get yourself or your product on Oprah.

The reason is simple and I hope, obvious: Oprah’s viewers trust her.

They gain weight with her, they lose weight with her. They struggle with her as she tries to get that frustrating man of hers to commit. She can afford the ring, but it’s the commitment that can’t be bought. They cry when she tells a sad story about an audience member or a guest on the show. If they see her on the street, they act like they know her personally.

Why? That too is simple. She’s real.

She has built her show and many of the things she does in a way that makes you feel like she’s talking just to you. Everything about the show is planned very carefully so that you feel exactly how you do when you watch it. For the male business owners and salespeople out there, trust me, this lesson is valuable to you as well, even if you can’t stand the show.

What Oprah does isn’t playing a game or cheating her viewers, she has simply made a choice to communicate with her viewers as if they were friends. It’s the same decision that Jay Leno and David Letterman had to make. Obviously, they have reasons to make a different choice and that’s something you have to figure out as well.

In her case, the conversation is personal, like you’d have with a friend. When she’s telling a story, it’s as if she is sitting at Coffee Traders sharing her story with you, rather than standing on a podium speaking to a crowd. When you’re a single mom working 2 jobs and your 2 year old son is sitting in the living room with you at whatever time Oprah’s show is on, Oprah is the friend you have time to listen to while you snuggle with your little boy.

That’s the kind of relationship you should have with your clients. It’s the kind of conversation you should be having with your clients and prospects.

Imagine that she wanted to sell you something using a postcard or brochure mailed to your home. Oprah would likely never send USPS Bulk Mail with an indicia (a pre-printed bulk mail “stamp”). I suspect any mail you get from her will be pretty, have a flower stamp on it (or at least something perceived as feminine). It’d probably be hand addressed, even if it meant that grandmothers all over Chicagoland were contracted to hand write the addresses (and there are services that do just that).

Why? Because a friend would never send you a bulk mail piece with an indicia.

Likewise, Oprah would likely never send bulk email with “Dear special friend” in it. An email from her would probably be fancy (kinda hard to make text emails feminine-looking, don’t you think?) and would certainly be addressed directly to you by name.

Without your first name, she might not even bother sending you an email.

Why? Same reason: A friend would never send you bulk email addressed to “Dear Special Friend”. Ptooie.

That’s the same kind of consideration you should have for your prospects and clients. If you have to address a piece of mail – email or otherwise – as “Dear Special Friend”, should you even be sending it?

When Oprah recommends a sponsor’s product, they assume that she is using it at home (and she may tell them so). They trust her not to sell them an empty promise. When she talks up a product, it disappears from shelves all over the country (Google Oprah’s book club for sample evidence).

Do you generate that same level of trust with your clients?

Even if you sell custom RV hitches, truck bumpers or .50 caliber blackpowder rifles with custom carved stocks, you can learn from the way Oprah grooms her relationship with her viewers.

How can you use the Oprah Factor to improve your relationship with your clients?

Establish trust and don’t take advantage of it.

Want to ask Mark about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at [email protected].