Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dora Turns 10 - Marketing Lessons From Successful Children's TV Shows

I've never been a fan of Dora the Explorer, but somehow she's managed to last for 10 years now. And, much to the chagrin of those of us 10 years older, she has not aged a day. In fact, she's much the same little hispanic girl that she was when she first premiered on Nickelodeon. So what has kept her going? What makes a children's show like Dora the Explorer or Barney the dinosaur so popular?

In the case of Dora, I think there are several reasons for her popularity that we can observe and learn from:
  1. She's cute, she has cute animal friends, and she sings catchy songs. Never underestimate the power of a catchy tune.
  2. She interacts with her viewers. Kids like to talk to characters on the screen; it's part of the learning process. When Dora asks what she needs out of her backpack, the child can yell with pride and excitement, "Flash light!" And when Spiper comes around, kids can learn a lesson about stealing and simultaneous have fun yelling, "Swiper, no swiping!" Marketers can learn a thing or two from this interaction, because adults like to interact, too, especially in an age of Facebook and MySpace. Find ways to interact with your customer, and they'll come to you.
  3. She teaches her viewers in a fun way. You, too, can teach your customers without pushing your business or product. Social media provides the means to interact with customers and give them what they want. Blogging, for example, is a great way to talk about things relevant to your product, but not about your product. With links to your website, you can draw customers in without ever pushing yourself on your customer. So, find a new and fun way to teach your customers.
  4. She knows her audience. Dora the Explorer caters to hispanic children looking for a more diverse show, but it also caters to a more white audience looking for a way to teach their children Spanish. At the same time, Dora doesn't over-emphasize Spanish, so sensitive parents won't mind the show. What is your audience like and how can you cater to them without pushing your product?
  5. Lastly, she knows how to put herself out there. Her marketers have found a variety of ways to put her face on various products from backpacks to notebooks to cups to tooth brushes. Once your business is out there, you can find ways to keep it out there by putting your product on other products and selling them. What are some other products you can use to put yourself in the public sphere?
I may not be a fan of Dora the Explorer (I never grew out of Barney or Blue's Clues), but I respect the way her marketers have used different methods to keep her popular. After 10 years, she's still going strong, and she's reinvented herself by adding new characters like Diego.

How can you reinvent yourself to make yourself attractive?

What are you doing to stay strong? What have you observed from successful TV shows?

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