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The Lessons Family Guy Teaches Every Business

by Susan Morgan on January 11, 2009

My best friend Kim has been after me for at least the last year to catch an episode of Family Guy. She swears it’s right up my alley, raving about how funny and irreverent it is… two things I dearly love. Somehow I hadn’t found the time to check out a full episode, I’d given the animated show no more like a quick skim on my way to Home and Garden TV’s House Hunters. It was only just this week her persistence paid off and I caught a full episode. It was everything she said… and like so many others, I’m hooked.

My family and I are now searching the on screen cable guide for when the episodes air. And my son has found something online combining Family Guy and Star Wars that makes me laugh every time I think about it. If this isn’t the type of series we all need in these easily offended, take ourselves WAY too seriously times, I don’t know what is.

There have been some intriguing online pieces on Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane that paint a most encouraging picture for any business owner (or creative genius) trying to be successful these days. New media entrepreneur Brian Clark devoted an entireblog post to the valuable lessons business owners can take away from this unexpected success story.

In a nutshell — Do what you love and stick to your vision. Don’t let rejection stop you. You don’t haveto be all things to all people — be everything to a loyal few. And don’t limit yourself to the way things always have been done… think outside the box.

Stop and consider these ideas for a minute.

Family Guy is nothing if not an example of how NOT to be all things to all people. Rather than cater to a mass audience, the series has stayed loyal to viewers and did things to please its core fans. It seems like (and I must admit I love this!) the show delights in offending the thin skinned, tight lipped, politically correct among us. Of course this makes fans love it all the more, showing you plainly how much better it is for a product to have a small, rabidly loyal fan base, than a larger, lukewarm one.

It’s this incredibly loyal fan base that brought Family Guy back from certain cancellation in 2000 and 2002. I’ve seen that loyalty first hand, if Kim hadn’t loved the series so much, she’d have given up on trying to convince me to watch long ago. Just imagine how valuable it would be to have someone believe that strongly in your product (or service) that they’re willing to sell it over and over again until the sale is made.

A second worthy lesson for business owners is the way MacFarlane didn’t limit the expression of his humor to “the way it’s always been done” — keeping his eyes (and creative options) open when it comes to distributing content and dealing with competition. Even though he’d signed a deal reported to be worth $100 million with 20th Century Fox TV, MacFarlane decided to work with Internet search powerhouse Google to produce animated shorts (edgier versions of New Yorker cartoons come to life) that run anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Fans love the idea of new characters that are being distributed censor-free (but sponsored, of course) via the AdSense network.

Whether you appreciate the Family Guy brand of humor or not, it does seem that there are some pretty sound, solid business lessons to take away from the story… perhaps one of more that you might apply to your own business.

Susan Morgan on sabtwitterSusan Morgan on sabfacebook
Susan Morgan
Creative, passionate and detailed, Susan brings 25-plus years professional writing experience to a variety of projects — get-noticed direct mail pieces, full line print catalogs, eye-catching color brochures and totally original. search engine friendly company blogs, web pages and online articles.

A lifelong love of storytelling has also produced a full-length novel (Out of the Ordinary published by booklocker in 2007). Susan continues to indulge her passion for fiction with a growing number of short stories (one an award winner in 2004, another in 2008) and finalizing a second novel.

In her spare time Susan enjoys gardening, studying astrology and tarot, being with family and friends and keeping up with politics and current events.


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