Inspiration can strike anytime and from anywhere. And as a marketer, it pays to be keen and ready to learn from any channel.
The channel could be as direct as a marketing tutorial video on YouTube, or as unlikely as an iconic sitcom from 90’s and 2000s.
There are hidden Marketing lessons from FRIENDS, the TV show that defined pop culture for millennials, and still continues to do so after it ended years back.
With the announcement of a Reunion Special being made by the cast and the official FRIENDS account on Instagram, we thought it would be a great idea to draw some marketing lessons from FRIENDS and understand what made it probably the most successful sitcom ever.
This article has taken cues from this beautiful article here.
Let’s see what are the Marketing lessons from FRIENDS that we can learn from and get a new perspective.
Table of Contents
Know your customer
This is a no-brainer. One of the key ways for business and marketing success is to have a deep understanding of your customer.
FRIENDS as a TV show nailed this concept early on in character development itself.
The characters in the TV Show aren’t a perfect bunch of happy-go-lucky pals.
Instead, they are flawed and are trying to be better – just like the rest of us.
Ross has a not-so-great experience in finding luck, Rachel is trying to make an identity for herself, Joey is struggling to be an actor, Monica is a cleanliness freak, Chandler is that one humorous friend in every group and Phoebe is, well, not as great a singer as she thinks she is.
The characters are special to us because they are ordinary. And it makes them relatable. We love them because we think they are like us.
It’s important to sell to people, not demographics.
Know what sells and market it
When you understand your audience and create content for them, it is even more important to measure the success of that content.
This is so that you can validate your hypothesis and assumptions you made about your audience. If something didn’t work, take that learning to refine your content strategy.
If something worked, pin point it and do more of it. Make it a part of your content.
We have all loved the crazy couple – Monica and Chandler in the show.
But did you know this couple was originally planned to be just a short term fling.
However, the audience response for this new couple was fantastic and the show-makers were listening.
They decided to make Monica-Chandler a serious relationship throughout the show, which resulted the couple to become iconic.
Leverage the power of influencers
It’s 2020 and most marketers are now aligned with the fact that influencers have become a very important part of marketing strategy.
Influencers allow brands to reach out to a new audience (their own communities) that loves and trusts those influencers.
And this too at a fraction of what a media campaign to achieve same results would cost them.
FRIENDS taught us the power of influencers back when it wasn’t mainstream.
They had multiple cameos of popular personalities throughout its 10 seasons including biggies like Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Noah Wyle, Bruce Willis, Charlie Sheen and more.
Another thing to note was that each of these cameo characters were naturally and organically built into the storyline. They didn’t look forced.
This is something marketers and brands should keep in mind while designing the content strategy.
Create Mysteries about your products or services
When your approach a launch of a product or service, it is easy to get carried away and start revealing the USPS or selling points. This is one way of doing things.
But curiosity is something that can give you even more attention. Sometimes, holding back information makes people want to stick around and find out that the hidden secret is.
FRIENDS show makers kept the audience in dark about whether Ross and Rachel would end up together for 10 whole years.
That’s because people love a mystery.
This was also done later by How I Met Your Mother in which audience didn’t know who the mother (woman with the yellow umbrella) is till the last season.
Mystery marketing sells! That is if you are able to execute it right, sustain the mystery and do a reveal that justifies the hype built.
Be Relevant and Relatable
The first rule of creating content is to create it for your audience, not for you.
Once you have identified your niche audience, dig deeper into how they think and behave.
Now create content that they’ll be able to relate with and find relevant. And then, keep adapting.
FRIENDS had become known for the special Thanksgiving episodes they’d do every year and other special occasions.
These episodes were created as per the moods of public in that particular season (holidays).
The show makers would prepare these episodes way in advance and start building up previous episodes to lead the special occasion episode. The content would look seamless – not forced or oddly placed.
This is how the makers used trending opportunities (trendjacking, as we call is in Digital Marketing) to stay relevant, relatable and valuable.
This is precisely why you as a marketer should keep an eye for upcoming trends so you can leverage them before everyone latches on.
In trends, usually, first movers have an advantage.
Virality isn’t achieved overnight. It takes time and planning
If you’ve worked with an agency or run one, there’s a high chance you have heard the phrase – Let’s make a viral campaign!
And then they get disappointed when the campaign doesn’t go viral.
The most common reasons are lack of planning and improper execution.
While people see the crazy virality a campaign catches and the numbers that come along with it, they get impressed and inspired. They want to replicate it.
But what they don’t see is the months or weeks worth of planning, consumer research, data analysis and a right execution strategy that goes behind that campaign.
Even though FRIENDS gained an iconic status and insane fan following in 90’s and 2000’s, it wasn’t touted to be that fantastic initially.
The reviews were average when it just started.
But the show makers kept at it, kept adapting the content, started thinking in advance on what to serve to their audience to prevent monotony from building and eventually constantly refining the strategy.
Hope this article serves you well and the marketing lessons from FRIENDS will help you tweak your own approach towards marketing.
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