Small Business Marketing and Oprah WinfreyThe final Oprah Winfrey television show airs tomorrow.  Based on the massive outpouring of comments and emotion leading up to this final show, you’d think the world was ending!  How did Oprah create such a huge base of raving fans?

Let’s take a look at Oprah’s journey to mega fame and fortune.  There are some great marketing lessons that entrepreneurs and small business owners can learn from Lady O!

Oprah’s Decision that Changed Everything

It happened in the mid 1990’s. Oprah decided it was time to listen to her heart and embrace her true self. As part of the process, she changed the theme of her Oprah Winfrey show from tabloid talk and gossip to edu-tainment . The world as we knew it would never be the same again!  Soon we would all experience “Oprahfication”, a term coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe her unique style and impact.

Oprah’s Quick Rise to Success and Fame

Oprah had achieved an amazing amount of success prior to this change. Early in her career, she was both the youngest news anchor, and the first black female news anchor at WLAC-TV, a Nashville TN station. In 1983, she relocated to Chicago to host WLS-TV’s half-hour morning talk show, called AM Chicago.

Within months after taking it over, the show went from last place in ratings to overtaking Donahue as the highest rated talk show in Chicago. Phil Donahue at the time was the King of Daytime Talk Shows, and it was inconceivable that a Black Woman named Oprah would be the one to topple Donahue. After that her show was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show, went from 30 minutes to an hour and was nationally syndicated!

10 years later Oprah found herself emotionally unfulfilled and exhausted. In fact, she was not sure she could continue doing her TV show any longer in the same format.

Oprah’s Move to Education Based Marketing

That’s when Destiny struck. Oprah decided to produce shows that were connected to her authentic voice. Having long felt a sense of personal disengagement from the tabloid style shows she was doing, she focused on producing shows that educated viewers and helped them to “Live Your Best Life”!

From that moment to her last show on May 25, 2011, Oprah transformed  from daytime talk show host to one of the worlds most powerful women! She has been named the world’s most influential woman by Time and CNN and, one of 100 people who influenced the 20th Century by American Spectator, to name just a few of her many accolades. In 2007, she was #1 on Forbes Top 20 Richest Women in Entertainment list and was # 130 on the 2010 Forbes List of Wealthiest Americans.

Mind Blowing…what an amazing journey and accomplishments!

7 Keys to Small Business Marketing Success from Oprah!

So, what can you learn from Oprah and apply to market and growing your small business? Following are 7 keys that were critical to her success.

1) Embrace Your Authentic Voice

Oprah attracts fans and fortune effortlessly because she is not trying to be something or someone else. In a recent interview with Barbra Walters, she talked about “knowing” that she was put here on this earth to inspire people, to encourage people to do better and to do more. When she connected that to her TV show back in the mid 1990’s, everything changed in a very powerful and positive way.

2) Congruent Marketing

Everything that Oprah does is “congruent” with her big message of “Live Your Best Life”. Every action in all of her businesses…O Magazine, Oprah Radio and now her OWN television network all match up to her “Live Your Best Life” message. This has built an amazing amount of trust and raving fans.

3) Education-Based Marketing

Oprah created education based shows…shows that lifted people up and taught them how to “live their best life” be it a great hair-do, losing weight or learning how someone else achieved success. She mixed in a little fun, and the rest is history or herstory!

4) Recycle Content to Increase Your Reach

Oprah expanded her empire and reach by recycling her TV show content into other media formats., Oprah Radio, Oprah O Magazine are all extensions of her TV show and feature similar content and key contributors to The Oprah Television show.

5) Meet Your Prospects and Fans on Their Terms

The extension into other media besides television, created outposts…or ways to connect with an even larger audience and… meet them on their terms. Now everywhere you go you see Oprah!

6) Practice Gratitude

Oprah lives in a state of gratitude and expresses it as a standard part, of how she does business. She has shared her platform with many people who have gone on to enjoy great financial reward as a result. Some have achieved mega fame and fortune like Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and Rachel Ray. Hundreds of others like book of the month authors, products mentioned on her show or O magazine, guest appearances on the Oprah Show, charities; are all examples of how Oprah expresses her gratitude.

Whether you’re a fan or not, you can’t deny the power of her amazing story. She is truly an inspiration! As celebrity after celebrity and fan after fan have gushed about how much Oprah has meant to them, we can experience the power of her story and journey. And in that moment get a sense, of how we too can take our business to the next level by embracing some of what Oprah has taught us as we have witnessed her metoric rise.

The beginning of this post mentioned 7 keys to Oprah’s success, and we’ve only covered 7. The 7th and final key is so powerful that it needs its very own blog post. Stay tuned until tomorrow and find out what it is!

Till then what do you think has been key to Oprah’s success?

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