August 22, 2011 -- My marketing professor from Michigan State University is rolling over in his grave. First I am confident that he would be embarrassed that (a) I know about the Kardashians and (b) that I would write about Kim Kardashian. I humbly apologize for my transgressions. HOWEVER, my professor also taught me that in every event there are lessons to be learned, and so it is with the recent nuptials of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.
Ten years ago Kim Kardashian was known simply a daughter of one of O.J. Simpson's lawyer. In a very short time she has built a successful empire based on reality TV, tight clothing (I suspect much of it gratis), cleavage and curves. I have learned that Kim Kardashian is more than a heavily painted face. She knows how to turn one project (i.e., reality TV) into a multi-million dollar business (e.g., advertising sponsorships, clothing lines).
As I see it, there are 4 marketing attributes that small businesses can learn from Kardashian.
Exposure is critical: Every company needs a steady stream of exposure. Consumers will readily forget your name, products and services. It is important to remind them every day about your organization. You must have a clear message and be creative in your presentation. Kim Kardashian makes sure she is photographed at events, walking on the street or getting a manicure.
Control the news: One of the best marketing tactics is to befriend others; groups, individuals and/or news organizations. Let people and organizations know what your business is about, how you benefit the community and upcoming events. Toot your horn so that the entire world may hear the music. Several weeks before Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian became engaged, Kim was quoted in the news as saying "I want to get married." Translation – Attention Kris, I am expecting a proposal. Attention news organizations; get ready for a bidding war for the wedding photos. Kim definitely controlled the news.
Make consumers want more: All forms of positive publicity are important. Consumers are eager to be reminded of exciting events, have their minds taken off negative aspects of the economy and learn about savings or events that will benefit them. Vera Wang is rarely if ever photographed walking down the streets of NY. Wang did something unheard to promote the Kardashian wedding gown. About one week before Kim's wedding, Vera and Kim were photographed together walking down a NY street. The associated article discussed the upcoming wedding, Kim's dress designed by Wang and the star-studded event in general. The publicity stunt left consumers (i.e., readers of gossip magazines) wanting more.
Be creative in your marketing: Marketing a company may take many different formats. Just because you used electronic billboards in one location in the past doesn't mean they should be used in the future. Constantly examine the marketing goals with activities. Ask "are the efforts bringing in the desired amount of sales?" If not, make changes. The Humphries-Kardashian wedding is estimated to bring in a lot of money for the newlyweds. It was reported that People magazine paid $1.5 million for exclusive rights to the wedding photos. E! had exclusive rights to video the ceremony. E! is scheduled to the ceremony on two nights. The amount paid to the newlyweds was not disclosed. Kim certainly was creative in marketing her summer 2011 activities. I'm not saying that she became a bride for financial reasons; it simply was a bonus.
So back to my marketing professor; he was definitely correct when he said "learn from all situations." Small businesses can learn from Kim Kardashian. For all you naysayers who think – "well sure, she is on reality TV…it is easy for her to make money." That is not true. Bethany Frankel is the only other true successful business woman to break through from a reality show. Others have tried and failed. Kim Kardashian is teaching small businesses the art of marketing.
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