Promote Like Colbert
Brag is Not a Four Letter Word

Is there a difference between bragging and “blowing-your-own-horn?” Does bragging conjure up a negative perception while “blowing-your-own horn” is a more acceptable behavior? At, there are 21 synonyms for bragging most of which do not have a positive connotation. The opposite of brag is defined as to “be modest” and to “be quiet.” Yet successful entrepreneurs need the ability to “brag” about their product or service.  

As Stephen Colbert and professional marketers know, being quiet is not what we do best. We all know about Colbert’s Emmy and Peabody awards, and the ice cream bearing his name. And let’s not forget Colbert bragging about the fact that NASA named the treadmill on the International Space Station COLBERT (Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill). 

We’re all too happy to boast and crow about the achievements of our clients—it’s our job. A PR firm I once hired to conduct a marketing communications audit sent me a plastic tube containing a toy trumpet and confetti, and a banner encouraging me to “Blow-my-own-horn.”

Now that I am an entrepreneur, I’m going to embrace my inner braggart and share some facts that add depth to the skills I bring as a marketing consultant:

·         I’ve had two articles published in The Washington Post which validates my ability to generate creative ideas as well as my writing skills. Read my most recent article in the April 15, 2012 Metro section:

·         I received an Emmy award for a video I produced while at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that aired on PBS. My role was to ensure that the plot was creative, scientifically accurate and that budget and deadlines were met. These are skills I bring as a marketer to manage the best interests of my clients. 

·         I was the senior member of a U.S. Small Business Administration delegation to Tunisia in January 2011. Funded by the U.S. Department of State as part of the Middle East Peace Initiative, we sought to provide support to Tunisia’s entrepreneurship program as a way of advancing democracy and increasing trading partners for U.S. small businesses. I can be trusted to represent myself and you in situations that require tact and diplomacy. 

Our achievements and successes make us who we are. So take time to boast, crow and swagger; and then get back to work. 


It Isn’t Easy Making Green

Perhaps to tie-in with the St. Patrick’s Day Greening of America, on March 14, Stephen Colbert’s guest on The Colbert Report was Kermit the Frog. Kermit was there to promote the March 20 release of The Muppets on DVD and Blu-rayand Stephen was looking for political insight from the former frog reporter. See:

In November, my husband and I (both baby boomers) took our 22 year-old Gen Y daughter and our 5 year-old grand niece and 8 year-old grand nephew to see The Muppets. I admit to missing The Muppets and was glad to have willing and able age-appropriate children to accompany us to the movie.

Is the target audience that would purchase The Muppet movie the same target audience that watches The Colbert Report? Which leads me to this question: from a marketing perspective, why would Disney think Stephen Colbert’s in-studio, television and web audience would buy (or download or rent) The Muppets?

According to a column from the website, TV by the Numbers, written by Bill Forman, June 2, 2011,  “The Colbert Report,” also had a memorable month in May [2011] widening its lead over “Conan" and solidifying the #2 slot in cable among late night talk shows behind "The Daily Show" in total delivery and P [P=persons] 18-49 with an average audience of 1.56 million total viewers for the month of May… The Emmy® and Peabody® Award-winning “Colbert Report" also dominated among young men, finishing the month behind only "The Daily Show" in all of late night, broadcast and cable, among P18-34, P18-24, M [M=Male]18-34 and M 18-24, providing COMEDY CENTRAL with the top two spots across all of television in these key demos.”


Is it possible that the 18-34 year-olds nostalgically remember The Muppets; especially those that have young children? Will that prime Colbert demographic buy The Muppets (though most likely they will download it)? There was plenty of opportunity in the 3 ½ minute interview to plug the movie four times in between the political commentary about the Republican primary. But were any sales made? Did viewers get caught up in Kermit’s political analysis or will they spend some green on the DVD?


In promoting the movie, Kermit (ever the diplomat) avoided a major pitfall lesser spokesfrogs might have jumped into: “When it comes to politics, I think everyone—the Democrats, the Republicans and the Independents—all of them will really enjoy our new movie The Muppets on DVD and Blu-Ray March 20,” he said.


And then, the famous Colbert Bump: “Nation get out there and buy The Muppets and let’s make this frog some serious green,” said Stephen.

The Scoop!

Successful marketing is about taking advantage of opportunity. Again, Stephen Colbert has parlayed his mock campaign into a product placement opportunity for Stephen Colbert’s “Americone Dream” ice cream, produced by Ben & Jerry—

While seemingly out of the race for the president of South Carolina by the time this episode aired on Feb. 1, Colbert was obviously working with Ben & Jerry’s for sometime to create new packaging for his ice cream. The special edition packaging includes the words “Superpack” around the lid and placed in a gold star the words, “2012 Collectible Election Year P-A-C-kage.”

Are you jumping on the election bandwagon? You don’t have to take sides and shouldn’t so you can appeal to customers on the right or left. But have you thought about a Super Tuesday Special (March 6, 2012)? Or how about a marketing event to tie in to the Republican convention, Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Florida and the Democratic convention, Sept. 3-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina? Can you price an item or service using the number 2012? Depending on your business, suggest an election night party, Nov. 6 or create a special menu. Depending on who wins the Republican nomination, may I suggest the following—Eye of Newt Stew; Spaghetti a la Santorum; Romney filet mignon, with a garnish of edible gold leaf. And for those with an appetite for Obama—Socialist duck a l’orange with a side of Barackoli with elitist hollandaise sauce.      

Using social media, give your customers the opportunity to vote for their favorite product or service you provide or suggest a new product or service. As campaign managers know, it’s all about engagement.

So we all can’t be like Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon and have a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream named after us. But we can dream. If you were an ice cream what would you name it and what would it taste like? For me, my ice cream is called Crazy Like a Fox (trademark). It is a rich chocolate, like a gelato, with ribbons of white chocolate (think about the fur on a fox) and, of course, you can’t be crazy without some nuts. Use your imagination and create an ice cream. Or contact Laura Fox Marketing Solutions and I’ll be happy to help you.             

The News You Make

The News You Make

Sometimes you have to make your own news. Stephen Colbert has turned this into an art form.  On Jan.12, 2012, with all the modesty he could muster, Colbert announced he is “forming an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for my possible candidacy for the president of the United States of South Carolina.”  And then the balloons dropped from the ceiling. 

Colbert seized the opportunity created when Public Policy Polling reported he was leading John Huntsman in the South Carolina presidential primary. This news was picked up by C-SPAN, MSNBC, CNN, The View and other media outlets.

The question is: do you seize the opportunity to make news when the opportunity arises? Local media outlets, blogs and websites are all looking for content. Is there a study, report or poll you can capitalize on and link to your business concept? Is there a new book that supports an issue you support? Jump on the bandwagon. Are you taking advantage of awards and honors you have received by sharing that information with everyone from your local business press and blogs to your college alumni association or neighborhood newsletter or listserv. Remember, you can be a content publisher through your business or personal website, blog and social media channels.

While Stephen Colbert shamelessly boasts about keeping a low-profile, the truthiness of the matter paints a different picture. Stephen Colbert is a 24-hour, seven-day a week publicity opportunist.  In 2012, make it a goal to increase your profile and your brand. And maybe one day you’ll be as recognizable to your target audience as Stephen Colbert is to his.

Stephen Colbert—Master Marketer

Stephen Colbert is a master marketer. Businesses large and small; organizations; and even the federal government could learn how to do a better job marketing by going beyond the comedy of The Colbert Report to the essence of how Stephen Colbert has become an award-winning brand— dare I say “celebrity,” while simultaneously bringing visibility to many worthwhile causes. In doing so, he has created a community of followers, “Colbert Nation,” that most organizations would love to count as “friends.”

First impressions are key to making a sale or engaging in a persuasion or public awareness campaign. In the opening sequence of The Colbert Report ,, a red, white and blue eagle swoops down, followed by a barrage of adjectives—star-spangled, all beef, honest, strong, high-fructose, independent. A viewer (customer) understands the positioning of the Colbert brand.

Do your website and marketing materials reinforce, through the use of carefully chosen adjectives, the attributes of your company, association or program? The use of truthful adjectives can separate you from your competition. Could you come up with a list of 10 adjectives that create a succinct image of your company? If not, you have homework to do. Create an adjective web (as in spider web) starting with your business or program at the center. As the web becomes larger a more complete and unique picture emerges. Include these adjectives in everything from fact sheets and PowerPoint presentations, to speeches, podcasts, videos, and reports, and you’ll create a vivid and memorable impression.