What Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon Can Teach You About Cross-Promotion

Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon have made a splash lately with their light hearted competitions over their Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors, the auction of Stephen Colbert’s portrait, and Stephen Colbert’s bet to sing Friday, the viral video hit by thirteen year old Rebecca Black. This rather contrived bickering has given them both a great new platform to show off their humor. And, not coincidentally, Colbert and Fallon are leveraging the power of other people’s audiences, providing a great example of cross-promotion.

From a content creation perspective, it’s important to understand that these three events benefited both Colbert and Fallon. Fallon appeared on Colbert’s television show and Colbert appeared on Fallon’s television show. Both of these performances were promoted and shown online. Additionally, each host created a bit around the other. Further, they involved their audiences with Fallon’s bet to raise $26,000 to get Colbert to sing on his show. As a result, Colbert’s Frank Sinatra like rendition of Rebecca Black’s viral success has attracted over 750,000 views on YouTube (although it’s no longer available there). While not hugely viral, this video has made a strong showing.

4 Ways you can use cross-promotion

Without recycling old material, Colbert and Fallon each expanded their reach to a new, but related audience. They gave away their best stuff so that both of them looked good. While Colbert and Fallon are television celebrities with large, established followings both offline and online, here’s what you can learn about cross-promotion from them.

  1. Write a guest blog post. This is a great way to expose some of  your best content to a new, but related audience. Spend some time assessing the blog that you want to write for so that you can understand their audience. Then propose a post that you think their audience will find appealing. Your goal is to entice readers to check out your blog. (make sure to provide a like to your own site.) Bear in mind that recycled or weak material will reflect badly on both you and the host. Guest posting may be one way or reciprocal.
  2. Interview well known experts in your field or niche. You can use this as the focus of a webinar or an e-book. Alternatively you can create a podcast or video. This can give your audience another way of consuming the content just as Colbert and Fallon did by having a conversation in lapsed time across their two shows. Consider creating a regular guest interview feature for your blog or other content vehicle. In this case, craft a set of questions that you can use on a regular basis.
  3. Co-create content. Just as Colbert and Fallon interacted on each other’s shows, you can use a business conversation or joint presentation to develop content. Since video can be used on a variety of social media platforms, it’s a great medium for exploring different types of joint content interactions. You can become the Charlie Rose of your niche.
  4. Actively cross-promote each other. Colbert and Fallon took cross-promotion a step further by involving other brands, both Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and DonorsChoose.org (and raised $26,000 into the bargain.) While the notion of cross-promotion has its roots in direct marketing, where marketers use each other’s house files to send catalogs.  You can promote another blogger or firm on your blog or website with an endorsement, ad or cross registration. Further, cross-promotion doesn’t necessarily need to be reciprocated on a one-for-one basis.

The healthy competition between Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central’s late night host, and Jimmy Fallon, NBC’s late night host, has been a win-win because it allows both comedians to create individual material as well as co-created material. Here are three tips from Colbert and Fallon: you must give the promotion your best effort, and you must engage with your audience and your partner’s audience.

If you’ve written guest posts, what was your approach to interacting with the blog’s audience? How did it perform? What other type of cross-promotions did you try and how well did they perform? Feel free to comment below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Here are some other links that you might be interested in seeing:

History of Jimmy Fallon’s bet  http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/379370/march-30-2011/stephen-practices-rebecca-black-s–friday-

Rebecca Black’s viral Friday video  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD2LRROpph0

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