Along with the French, I love Jerry Lewis, not only because he’s an incredible comic but because he is the original social media marketer whose XX year run has a lot to teach us.
Consider these lessons.
1. Create Own-able, Original Content. The schmaltz, the cheesiness, the kids in wheelchairs, the has-been performers singing long-forgotten big-band songs, the B rolls of guys in white coats holding test tubes, the drum rolls and the tote boards that conjure up the ghost of Ed McMahon, the lame local anchors and the tear-wrenching appeals all signal Labor Day and MDA. Jerry has consistently used original content to claim significant year-round mind space and to drive a singular and differentiated brand message. There’s thousands of charities and thousands of celebrity do-gooders, but there’s only one Jerry Lewis and his kids.
2. Make a Personal Connection. We all genuinely know Jerry. He’s been a part of our lives since the 1950s. There is a great national catharsis each year as the telethon kicks off that focuses on Jerry. It’s partly a morbid health-watch to see which diseases and which side effects of treatments Jerry himself will display each year.
But even before he created a Facebook page or a Twitter account Jerry was engaging us by leveraging his comedy antics and by singing those signature songs – “Smile”, “What the World Needs Now” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Jerry understands, maybe better than anyone, that people buy people. He uses emotion, humor, schtick, flattery and frank talk to connect with different audience segments.
3. Persistent Positioning. Jerry and MDA have staked out a position and for 44 years they have delivered on it and raised more than $1.4 billion to fight muscular diseases. MDA owns Labor Day. There’s nothing better and nothing more reliable and nothing more comforting than watching Jerry, on the 190 stations of the Love Network, and the predictable and familiar parade of firefighters, convenience store owners, letter carriers, realtors, oil companies, Harley Davidson executives and other random sponsors presenting those over-sized checks at random moments during the Labor Day weekend.
Jerry knows that you position yourself, plant your flag and stick to it. Marketing fads come and go but audiences crave the familiar.
4. Network Your Networks. Jerry and MDA have put together an incredibly potent series of partnerships and alliances that consistently deliver results. The lesson is — connect the dots. Use your networks to extend your reach, frequency and engagement with your customer base. Don’t be bashful about mashing things together or cross-pollinating ideas among your allies.
So this year don’t just sit there – tune in beginning at 9pm ET on September 5th, dial the number or type in the URL on your screen and help Jerry!
Happy Labor Day.