7 Practical Business Tips We Learned From Comedy Central’s “Nathan for You”

Posted by ImageWorks Creative Team September 22, 2015

If you haven’t seen Nathan for You on Comedy Central, now is a great time to get caught up on seasons 1 and 2 before season 3 premieres on October 15th.

Nathan Fielder, the comedian behind the mockumentary-style show, tells us that he graduated from one of Canada’s top business schools with really good grades. He’s awkward and shameless, and he’s coming to a town near you to offer advice to struggling small business owners.  

Although most of his marketing tips could be described as unusual, atrocious, and sometimes even immoral, the show really can teach us a lot about how to grow a business.

#1. Don’t be afraid to take risks.

It’s true, most of the risks taken on Nathan for You don't exactly work out for the companies involved, but that doesn’t mean businesses should always play it safe.

Writing a controversial blog post, peppering your Tweets with cuss words, and using potty humor in your ads are all ideas that have been employed in modern-day marketing campaigns with some great results. Taking a risk is a powerful way to improve your visibility and make your company seem more approachable. Keep your audience in mind, and you’ll be all right.

#2. If you take the time to create great content, your business can go viral …

Nathan Fielder had the right idea when he advised a petting zoo to use YouTube to garner attention from animal lovers. Videos of animals performing heroic acts quickly rack up views and shares, and they often get picked up by popular news programs. When Nathan’s petting zoo client shared a video of their pig saving a drowning goat, it went viral and attracted customers from miles away.

Going viral is a digital marketers dream. As content marketing becomes an increasingly important part of every company’s marketing strategy, we can all learn something from the pig and the petting zoo.

#3. … But you shouldn’t compromise your ethics, no matter how successful you are.

Unfortunately, the heroic pig featured on Nathan for You didn’t actually belong to the petting zoo and he wasn’t quite the hero they made him out to be. The hired ham used a series of special ramps (and lots of training) to become the star of his own viral video, and Nathan decided not to associate the petting zoo with the video once he realized what a huge sensation it was. The business owner was understandably disappointed, but in the end, she and her pig avoided a big scandal.

Lesson learned: it's great to get attention for your business, but you have to keep your long-term goals in mind. Earning your customers' trust can go a long way!

#4. Set yourself apart from the competition by offering something unique.

Nathan advised a realtor to provide something none of her colleagues could offer by guaranteeing the homes she sold to be free of ghosts and demons. While the idea didn’t exactly take off, his advice was on the right track.

Success in a competitive market depends on finding a way to set your business apart from the competition. Whether that means telling your own unique story or offering a product or service that no one else has, it’s important to consider what makes your company special and use that feature to attract new customers.

#5. Never underestimate the value of word-of-mouth.

Nathan Fielder knows that customers like to talk. When he advised a frozen yogurt shop to get people talking by offering a limited-edition, feces-flavored yogurt, he expected customers to flock to the store so they could try something new. The customers came (and then they went, with a bad taste in their mouths). 

But there’s an important lesson to be learned from Nathan’s uncommonly flavored frozen treats. When someone has a memorable encounter with your business, they’re going to tell their friends. Make sure it’s a positive experience that starts the conversation, and you’ll have more success than the yogurt shop.

#6. Always let your customers know how much you value their time.

Like the real life auto insurance company that advertises a seven-minute quote to beat out a competitor’s 15-minute offer, Nathan encourages businesses to speed up their services in order to grow. His promises – pizza delivery in 8 minutes and 40 maids to clean your home in just six – were too extreme to be successful, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from his ideas.

Today’s customers are busier than ever. Your company can win them over by recognizing the value of their time and offering services that are quick and convenient. Just be realistic and avoid making big promises you can’t keep.

#7. Look for unusual places to promote your work.

Advertising a pet store on a large tombstone in a pet cemetery could be described as insensitive, classless, or tacky, but Nathan assures one local store owner that it’s also an inventive way to reach people who are in the market for a new pet. His idea backfired, and we can’t be sure that no animals were harmed in the making of that episode, but there was some merit to his idea.

When it comes to advertising your company, it’s smart to think outside the box. Billboards, radio spots, Facebook ads, and trade shows are great ways to promote a business, but if you can find a unique way to get in touch with your customers (without being crass or heartless), you should give it a try.

We can’t wait to see what else Nathan Fielder will teach us when his show resumes this fall, but we don’t have to wait to get started on your most inventive marketing campaign yet. Send us a note today, and your business will be booming before you can say, “He graduated from one of Canada’s top business schools with really good grades.”

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