Marketing lessons from Robin Williams.

By Luke Sklar and Amber Hudson

He was a comedian’s comedian, one of the most iconic comedy brands of all time, part of the trifecta of stand ups that broke the mold:  George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld and of course Robin Williams.

Robin Williams was the best of the best of what he did, and that was tell stories.  Sometimes they were 60 second stories told machine-gun style, others were manic, sweat-covered ramblings of crazy.  But great they were.

It’s just a shame that his own story didn’t end as we had assumed: that he’d always be there to make us laugh well into a ripe old age, Bob Hope style. We had glimpses into his struggles but really we had no idea.  Instead, his version of his own story just sort of left a weird, untidy vacuum.  Like he just dropped the mic and walked of the stage leaving the audience wondering what the hell just happened.

There’s a lot to learn from Robin’s life and his tragic passing. For marketers we have 3 lessons:

  • Raise your empathy game. As much as we’d like to think we do, we don’t truly know what’s going in anyone’s mind. This includes your customers – everyone’s life has bumps.
  • So be a generous listener who tries to understand the needs and hopes of your target.
  • Recognize the minor role your brand plays in their lives.  While it might consume your every waking moment, your brand takes up only a mere slice of their consciousness.  You need to create those brand stories that get their attention.

We marketers know that we remember great stories that ooze cultural archetypes. Robin the Jester doing standup, Mrs. Doubtfire, the ultimate Caregiver, the Sage that coached Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting and so many more. Robin your stories will live on as a remarkable legacy.