I’m a big fan of marketing guru Seth Godin‘s words of wisdom. Because, while Godin’s area has been called marketing, I think his words are more about general life. Probably one of the reasons he’s so popular – most of what he says can be applied to just about anything.
And much of what Godin says about marketing is that, really, your product is your marketing.
This recent post of his hit home – read it here (it’s short). This little gem says so much that is relevant to anyone in children’s entertainment, especially those indies or people struggling out on their own. We all know it’s a saturated market. We’re still here, but we know that, really. And many of us, after seeing so many shows that make it and so many that don’t, hit a point where we realise the hard truths about the work we create…
Got a fun show? Who cares? There are thousands of fun shows.
Got a show with hilarious characters? Great. So has everyone else.
Great design? Nice. That’s a bonus but it’s nothing to get excited over.
A show on the cutting edge of a trend? Too late. If it’s a trend, you missed it.
The world is full of funny, happy shows with great characters. If any one of these things is your selling point, the unfortunate truth is, the world doesn’t need your show. Or my show. The whole industry could shut down today and children would never run out of shows to watch.
That doesn’t mean shows without something really new won’t do well. Many people in the chain will be looking at what did well before and make positive decisions based on that. It’s flawed, but it happens. In fact, many of the big companies will be doing just that because, with shareholders, they’re usually looking for the ‘safe’ option, especially now. And the big companies will have the budget to push hard, give away the right deals to get air time, shelf space and so on. To a certain extent, they can make a hit.
The small people, on the other hand, can’t compete.
But, as a result of that, the small people, the indies, actually find ourselves with an opportunity.
We don’t have shareholders to please. We don’t have teams of advisors telling us what the market wants based on information on what once worked.
We have freedom.
We can act and adapt quickly.
We have the ability, the need, to take risks.
We have passion.
But what we absolutely have to have, is something special. Something that delivers to children something they need. Something beyond fun, or nice characters, or action. This is an opportunity to create content that is really good for children.
As Godin says, “the challenge is to be edgy and remarkable and to have the market move its center to you”.
The children’s entertainment world has spent the last ten years looking for the next Dora or the next Spongebob, all while missing that what made Dora and Spongebob special is that they weren’t really the next anything.