In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, d.trio Marketing Group is featured as one of the Top Digital Marketing Companies in the United States. Check out their profile here.
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood has experienced quite a revival in the past several years. Thanks to a slew of articles, documentaries, biographies, and an Oscar-nominated film, Fred Rogers is bigger and more iconic than ever. The man was a true original—growing a passionate following through his philosophy of kindness and unconditional love. It’s marketing of the highest order. And when it comes to our own marketing efforts, we’d be wise to heed Mister Rogers’ approach.
7 Key Marketing Lessons from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
One of the central themes of Mister Rogers’ philosophy was that each of us is special and unique—and we should appreciate ourselves exactly the way we are. As marketers, this is essential. The best communications come from authenticity. You need to be crystal clear on what your brand is all about—its Unique Selling Proposition—and leverage it for all its worth. Being yourself is like a magnet for connecting with your audience. The right people will find you and appreciate you for it.
Storytelling is Powerful Communication
Fred Rogers conveyed many of his values through storytelling, often using the Neighborhood of Make-Believe as a backdrop. By wrapping difficult messages inside gentle stories with puppets, he communicated complex topics in a simple, disarming way. It’s human nature to understand and internalize ideas more deeply through sharing stories. And it’s the same in marketing. By communicating personally via narrative and imagery, brands develop deeper connections and longer lasting relationships with their customers.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Mister Rogers told it like it was. Even though his audience was very young, he didn’t sugarcoat reality, often talking to kids about tough subjects like death, divorce, and disability. And kids loved him for it. But marketing? It’s infamous for its exaggerated claims if not flat-out lies. (Has your fast food hamburger ever looked like the picture?) Ultimately though, consumers see through all the tricks. Honesty on the other hand, builds trust. And trust builds loyalty. Long-term, you always win with honesty.
Speak to Your Audience as Individuals
Mister Rogers addressed his viewers like he was speaking to a single person, not an audience of millions. Each time he peered into the camera he looked right at you—as if he was talking to you and only you. And that made each of us feel special. Marketing (even B2B) works the same way. Sure, your message may be seen by thousands. But every one of those people will experience your brand on an individual level, through their own eyes and ears. Emotional connections are built person-to-person. The best marketers know this. They do their best to craft their messaging so it sounds as if it was created just for you.
Focus on Their Feelings
Learning how to deal with feelings was a common theme with Mister Rogers. He believed that all feelings—whether happy, sad, or angry—were valid. Instead of trying to wash away negative feelings, Mister Rogers taught kids to understand and accept the full range of emotions they experienced. That’s because he knew that emotions are what makes us human. As marketers, we’d do well to always remember the important role emotions play in our work. Especially in B2B marketing, where we tend to favor a more rational, business-minded approach. But as Mister Rogers understood, emotions play a critical role in driving human behavior. And they’re one of the most powerful marketing tools we’ve got.
Respect Your Audience
Mister Rogers never talked down to kids. He believed that just because they were young, it didn’t mean they weren’t also smart. Which is one reason why his show featured a wide range of subjects—everything from nuclear war and racism, to things like jazz, business, and abstract art. This created a high level of trust, respect, and admiration toward him. For marketers, the same is true. Customers appreciate when you treat them with respect. So don’t talk down to your audience. Don’t make your message too pushy or manipulative. Look at things from their point of view. Speak to them the way you’d want to be spoken to.
Being good to others forms the backbone of Mister Rogers’ entire philosophy. In fact, one of his best known quotes goes like this: “There are three ways to ultimate success. The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” For marketers, kindness is all about focusing on the customer. Putting them first. Listening to their needs. Respecting their time and attention and intelligence. Being helpful and generous, and highlighting the benefits they stand to gain. Most of all, it’s about recognizing that even though we’re in the business of generating sales, what we’re really doing is building relationships, making connections, and trying to create happy customers long term.
In short, we marketers would be smart to keep in mind the lessons Fred Rogers taught us. Basically, remembering that you’re marketing to sensitive, emotional individuals rather than focus groups, target audiences, or businesses. Sure, statistics help in the research phase. But when it’s time to craft your message, do so with kindness, respect, and honesty. Be yourself. Tell stories. Learn from the master of human connection himself. The red cardigan, however? Well, that’s optional.