Lisbiz Strategies: If Martha Stewart can do it, why can’t you?

Home Columns Lisbiz Strategies: If Martha Stewart can do it, why can’t you?

By Lisbeth Calandrino

July 22/29, 2013; Volume 27/Number 7

I’m a die-hard fan of the radio show, “Car Talk.” I listen to “the brothers” weekly. I have all of their podcasts and actually listen while I’m working out at the gym.

I tune in to the show every week, but I didn’t realize it had gone off the air in June 2012 (now reruns are aired). If you haven’t listened, the guys are funny car aficionados as well as mechanics. The show had 3.3 million weekly listeners on 660 stations, according to NPR spokeswomen Anna Christopher.

More people listen to “Car Talk” than any other NPR program. The brothers, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, did a show for 10 years without pay before WBUR decided to create a pilot. The Magliozzi brothers were having a great time by themselves and didn’t care who was listening. Their Boston accents are charming, their weekly puzzle is taxing, and their nicknames for their staff will have you rolling.

Despite their retirement, the Magliozzi brothers have 25 years worth of archives and 12,500 calls to work with. The show is centered on calls from customers with legitimate car problems. What the brothers do with the questions is what makes the show hilarious.

The episode that stumped me was the one with Martha Stewart as a guest. I don’t think many people, including myself, consider Martha Stewart funny or easygoing but she was hysterical. She seemed to go with the flow and had her own ideas about how to cook a chicken wrapped to a car’s tail pipe (apparently tin foil seems to work best).

The boys poked fun at Martha, asking her how she would tile a dashboard. It was so funny I had tears in my eyes. Of course, the whole thing got me thinking.

“This is definitely out of the box,” I thought (although I hate that expression).

Who would have thought there would be a good connection between Martha Stewart and two car experts?

It actually makes lots of sense. Tom and Ray get 3.3 million listeners a week, which is not too shabby. If you couple that number with Martha’s fans, that’s an incredible amount of ears and eyes.

What does this mean to your business? It means your world is bigger than you thought, and it doesn’t matter who you pair up with if they have fans. You need viewers and listeners who would find you amusing and interesting. (Notice I didn’t say, “Who want to hear your commercial.”)

Martha didn’t talk about her recipes or her show; she just went along with the gag and answered the listeners’ questions.

The key is building relationships with potential customers. If someone is willing to share their customers with you, why not go on his show? Who has listeners and an interesting show in your town?

I received a call from a local station with a big listenership. The station manager knew me from when I had my own radio show and wanted me to talk customer service to his salespeople. In exchange, he wanted to give me some radio time. He had ideas about what his customers like. All he thought about was his marketing and I had everything to gain.

How are you building connections and what media is available for free in your town? Are you volunteering for a charity or do you invest in your neighborhood? If you’re not doing anything, you’re missing out on some fun and free press.

I know it sounds simple when I talk about it, and it is. What’s not so simple and where businesses fail is the marketing of events, public appearances and getting attention. You are in charge of your own brand and publicity, so get on it.

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