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 who still has a lot to teach us.
Consider these lessons.
Create and own original content. The schmaltz, the cheesiness, the kids in wheel chairs, the has-been performers singing long-forgotten big band songs, the B rolls of guys in white coats holding test tubes, the drum rolls, 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. Lewis consistently uses original content to claim significant year-round mind space and to drive a singular and differentiated brand message. Thousands of charities and thousands of celebrity do-gooders exist, but there’s only one Jerry Lewis.
Make a personal connection. We all genuinely know him. He’s been a part of our lives since the 1950s. There is a great national catharsis each year as the telethon kicks off and focuses on him. It’s partly a morbid health-watch to see which diseases and which side effects he will display each year.
Even before he created a Facebook page or a Twitter account, Lewis engaged us by leveraging his comedy antics and by singing those signature songs: “Smile”, “What the World Needs Now,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” He understands, maybe better than anyone that people buy people. He uses emotion, humor, shtick, flattery, and frank talk to connect with different audience segments.
Be persistent in positioning. Lewis 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 oversized checks at random moments during the Labor Day weekend. Lewis knows that you position yourself, plant your flag, and stick to it. Marketing fads come and go but audiences crave the familiar.
Network your networks. Lewis and MDA have put together an incredibly potent series of partnerships and alliances that consistently deliver results. The lesson is to 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.
Don't just sit there, tune in today and donate.
Happy Labor Day.