Oprah is an amazing person. More importantly though, she is an amazing person who has figured out how to turn her amazing-ness into a powerful marketing machine.
I'm sure that you have seen the magazine covers about Oprah's slide up the scale. Have you also seen the commercial of her saying "I can't believe I'm talking about weight ...again!"? Perhaps you have even seen some of her shows this week, which are all about getting her weight and health back on-track.
She is on the cover of almost every tabloid magazine this week, and even her commercials are getting media coverage. This is an absolute PR windfall for Oprah's marketing team. Beautifully, it is not a publicity stunt - it is real life, and it's exactly why I think Oprah is brilliant!
Here are three things that Oprah knows about marketing that we can all learn from:
1. Audience Insight - Oprah's most critical insight as a businesswoman is that she knows her audience, and she knows how to market herself in a way that inspires them to buy more magazines, watch more shows, and become even bigger raving fans than they already are. She does this by being a real human with real human challenges.
2. Timing is Everything - a print magazine typically works on a lead time of 3-5 months. That means that the story about Oprah's weight has been planned at least since August, but probably before. In other words, she and her team have been planning the media blitz currently ongoing for months. I'm guessing they chose January based on the fact that everyone runs weight-loss articles in January, making the media timing perfect.
3. Stick to Your Message - the very reason this story has gotten so much coverage is that Oprah has been talking about her weight for more than 20 years. It is an ongoing theme in her life and on her show. Everyone in the country - and many people around the world - know about Oprah's struggle with weight. This consistency is a great example of how sticking to a few key messages in your marketing efforts can pay off in spades.
Please know that I am not trying to expose Oprah for doing this all for marketing; I am quite sure that she did not gain weight to get media coverage. Nonetheless, she is a great example of how you can turn almost any type of lemon into lemonade with the right strategy.