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Steve Holt! 5 Marketing Lessons Arrested Development Taught Me


bluthbananasArrested Development is one of the top sitcoms ever made. Ask a TV critic...I can wait. Anyway, one of the best things about the show is the fact that it’s funnier every time you watch it. There’s so much going on, you’ll always catch something you didn’t see the first, second, or tenth time. But what I wasn’t really expecting to catch was some great marketing advice, considering the ineptitude of the Bluth Company. Still, there are examples to learn from – even if the lesson is what not to do.

“We’re not here to talk nonsense to Bob Loblaw.”

Late in the series, the Bluth family hires a new lawyer named Bob Loblaw. Pretty much any sentence involving his name is incomprehensible, with the capper being the newspaper headline “Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb.” Read it out loud, and try to do it ten times fast.

Your brand needs a message. And even if you have a good one, if you don’t get it right and state it clearly, it will do you no good. Know what’s important about your business. Put it into words, and put those words in front of as many people as you possibly can. If you’re just talking nonsense, rethink what you’re trying to say.

And as a bonus, take a leaf out of the book of Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog. Make sure a part of that message is a regularly updated blog that helps your business make the case that you know your industry, and that you’re suited to serve your customers. But make sure it has a better name.

Solid as a Rock

In “The One Where They Build a House,” Michael tries to save the family real estate company by building a new model home to jumpstart a development. When his brother Gob promises the board that the home will be finished in two weeks he accomplishes it by building a fake hollow house. It collapses spectacularly.

When you’re planning something big – a website launch, a new campaign – make sure it’s done right. Because when the site goes live, the servers had better not crash, and the images had better load right. If you’re putting something out that’s all style and no substance, it will collapse like a poorly built fake model home.

“There’s always money in the banana stand.”

A frozen banana, dipped in chocolate. It’s the center of the Bluth family empire, sold from a banana stand on the Newport Beach boardwalk. And when Michael burns it down, in a vain attempt to try to free himself from his overbearing father, he also burns $250,000 in cash – which his father had tried to warn him about.

Details are important. Whether it’s a typo in an email campaign going out to a list of hundreds, or it’s flames consuming a wooden banana filled with money, missing a detail big or small could cost your business. Detail-oriented marketing, with everything tight and on-point, will succeed for you. Don’t neglect any of the parts of your process, from building your brand to sharing your story with the public.

“I hear the jury’s still out on science.”

Gob Bluth doesn’t put much stock in science. His ego won’t allow it – he can’t be wrong, even if he’s being an idiot. Hopefully for your business, that doesn’t sound familiar.

Every piece of marketing you do should be measured. There are tools like Google Analytics and HubSpot available to you, which allow you to keep track of every visit to your website, and what visitors do once they’re there. You absolutely have to use the tools at your disposal to see how your marketing efforts are performing. That information will serve you well – it allows you to adjust things that aren’t working, and preserve and increase the things that are. The jury’s in on the science of marketing, and it’s the key to finding that next level of success.

“I’ve made a huge mistake.”

Over and over, almost every character in the series utters those five words – particularly Gob, because frankly he makes the most mistakes. When you try to do audacious things with your marketing, sometimes it won’t work. Sometimes you’ll make a mistake.

But you can’t ignore it, and hope things get better. If something doesn’t work, assess it, admit it, and move on. Don’t keep pushing something that’s failing. But even more important, don’t be afraid to try again with something new. Because the mistakes are worth it when you hit on something great. That’s where innovation comes from.


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