No matter how old you may be or where you grew up, you’ve probably heard of Sesame Street. With its iconic theme song and an endless list of memorable characters, skits, educational and life lessons, Sesame Street has been educating children for nearly 50 years.
Sesame Street figured out the secret to creating a long-running and impactful series. What has made this show able to stand the test of time for decades isn’t only its educational purpose but a focus on constantly evolving to reflect what’s happening in society. The show and its characters consistently meet the needs of the audience while retaining their core values and messaging.
While we can all probably think of a lesson (or ten!) we remember from Sesame Street as a kid, some of what they’ve been teaching all these years has a much broader application in life — and in business.
Here are five lessons that small business marketers can learn from Sesame Street.
#1. You Can Educate in Many Ways
People commonly associate the basics (like learning the alphabet or how to count) with Sesame Street. Both of these lessons taught the same concept but using different approaches to appeal to the widest audience of learners.
When you think of how Sesame Street taught us to count, you probably pictured The Count. In addition to having a character dedicated to this one concept, the function of counting was presented in other memorable ways.
♫ One-two-three-four-FIVE-six-seven-eight-nine-TEN-eleven-tweeeeeeelve ♫
Everyone loved the pinball machine because not only was it a great visual, but the tune was catchy and would stay with you for hours (or even days) to come. And let’s not forget the ladybug picnic.
The same concept can be applied to the content you create for your business. You don’t need to start fresh every time you want to share information and educate your audience via social media, your blog or email.
Your content can be repurposed in different ways, providing you with the opportunity to take a concept or lesson and present it differently to appeal to a broader audience and varied styles of learning and processing.
Let’s say you have a great customer case study on your website. That same case study could be repurposed and shared in an infographic, a social media post, a blog post told from the business’ perspective and in a video. Using multiple formats makes it easier for your audience to consume and helps reinforce your message.
#2. Support Your Community and Let Your Community Support You
A key lesson that Sesame Street has imparted to us over their decades on TV is that being part of a community is important.
No matter what happens, the crew on Sesame Street sticks together and supports each other through the good and the bad. If you’re a little bit older, you probably remember when Mr. Hooper died unexpectedly. When that occurred, the entire community of Sesame Street banded together to support each other through the loss.
One of the key concepts on Sesame Street comes through the various characters — both human and puppet — looking for advice or support from the people in their community.
This is an excellent reminder that as a business owner, you don’t have to run your SMB alone. The truth is that asking for help enables us to solve problems and create a support system that we can rely on.
As business owners and entrepreneurs, we often feel like we need to do everything and often have a hard time asking for help. By building a community for yourself and your customers, you’re ensuring that everyone knows they DON’T have to do it alone and help is there if they just ask.
The same lesson applies to your customers. As a small business, you’re able to act as a support system to your customers, ideally creating a community around your brand. This helps to create brand loyalty and establishes trust, which is a critical component when it comes to consumers choosing to do business with you.
There are many different ways you can support your community as an SMB. A popular way to do so is with a Facebook group.
Elsie Escobar and Jessica Kupferman are long-time podcasters and own a small business that focuses on podcasting education and support for women. Five years ago, they discovered that female podcasters needed a community to support one another and created a Facebook group called She Podcasts. Since its inception, the group has grown to over 13,000 members with a high level of support. The duo is hosting their first live conference in late 2019.
As a business owner, surrounding yourself with like-minded people is one of the most powerful ways to get support. This can be done by joining a mastermind group of your peers where you meet regularly and share your challenges and successes. Another option is joining a locally-based network for businesses, such as a chamber of commerce or even an association for your specific industry.
For example, if you’re a realtor, you may want to join your local real estate board, the chamber of commerce or business improvement association and the National Association of Realtors.
Finally, to broaden impact, many small businesses make a point to give back to their communities in other ways. Whether it’s donating a portion of your profits to a charity, supporting a charity run happening in your neighborhood or volunteering hours towards a local cause, you’re signaling that your business is committed to bettering the community. People invest in those who invest in them, and this can have many positive side effects for both you personally and in your business.
#3. Be Consistent
Although Sesame Street has evolved to reflect what is happening in society, the core value of education and inclusivity have remained for over five decades.
Even if you watched the show 20, 30 or 40 years ago, you’d immediately recognize familiar characters and the iconic sets that are on the show today. While the look may have evolved, the core lessons they are teaching still say the same — math, reading, life skills, inclusivity and embracing diversity.
Cookie Monster may have promoted healthy eating, but he’s still all about the cookies.