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Print on Demand Lessons From Ecommerce Storeowner - Stephen Colbert?!

Frank Jackson, 01/21/2019,

Stephen Colbert is a funny guy. He’s also a very smart online storeowner.

Last week, he ran a campaign, that when you break it down, makes a great blueprint for ecommerce success.

Here’s how he did it.

1. He built up an audience

Colbert hosts the Late Show on CBS and in addition to their TV viewers their YouTube channel has 5million+ subscribers. He’s built a huge audience to market to.

He’s talented, funny, intelligent, co-markets with influencers and celebrities as guests and interviews them. He knows what he’s doing.

While few of us can dream to build an audience that large, you don’t need millions of followers to make good money with ecommerce and print on demand. That number can mean something different from person to person. What matters is your niche is large enough to provide you with the potential number of sales you’re looking for, and that you’ve created a passionate base that trusts you.

In a way, Colbert has cultivated a niche audience, made up of people that remembers him from his earlier work, and shares a similar type of sense of humor to him. They’re interested in current events, trending topics, and look to him to provide them an entertaining way to make it through the week. His content and promotional offers cater directly that audience he nurtures on a daily basis.

2. He picked a trending topic

The most popular story of last week continued to be the government shutdown and the effects it was starting to show. One of the major news stories discussed was TSA agents were ordered back to work but still without pay.

Colbert, halfway through his opening monologue, says how unfair this is for the unpaid agents. He then introduces his promotion, a mug he will sell from his online shop, with the words “Don’t even talk to me until I’ve had my paycheck.”

The audience cheers.

Politics is controversial, however, as the Nike and Gillette ads have shown, brands referencing controversial topics in their promotions is a great way to gain publicity for your products. By the following day, the YouTube video already had 1million+ views.

3. He had a clever design idea

Yes, Stephen Colbert is funny, and he has an entire team of writers thinking up ideas for him, but it really doesn’t take a comedic genius to come up with something like “Don’t even talk to me until I’ve had my paycheck.”

The phrase is essentially a take on the popular meme “Don’t even talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” and the only twist is incorporating a reference to the trending topic.

If you give yourself an hour or two, you can likely come up with something similar or better.

Ideas come the more you try to think of them, so why not make it a daily exercise to run through the news, run through your social feeds of inspiration, and then try to jot down some ideas for designs.

4. He picked a great product for his niche audience

Once he has the design idea, the next part is the picking the appropriate product to put it on. Colbert has already been selling products through his online shop:

Products for his niche audience

He’s selling throw pillows, tshirts, hoodies, prints, even holiday ugly christmas sweaters (you need to update that product page, Colbert!).

Colbert wisely chooses to put his design on mugs, a product he is already selling and no doubt comfortable with the quality and his print on demand provider. It’s a coffee meme so the mug is the perfect option, and it’s an everyday item that will sell well at any time of year.

Plus, he must know his audience is a coffee-drinking crowd. Coffee appeals to a wide collection of demographics, so the potential sales number of his audience is huge.

5. He used his social channels to push sales

Besides having a TV show and a big audience on YouTube, the Late Show has also cultivated an audience on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In order to reach his full audience, he posted his promotion throughout his social presence. He realizes today’s customer is on a variety of social platforms.




He even went the extra mile and posted social proof of happy customers who made a purchase:

If you don’t watch his show live, perhaps you catch a clip here and there on Facebook or Twitter. Perhaps his audience is on Instagram and he can reach them with a targeted ad. Wherever you are, by marketing across channels, the chances of finding you are exponentially increased.

6. His site is optimized and easy to maneuver

Anyone with an sizable following should be asking themselves how they can potentially market to that audience. Once you’ve built up a passionate base for your content, your fans are going to WANT to show off their allegiance to your brand, which makes a Shop on your site a necessity.

The Late Show shop has minimal design. It’s nothing flashy, it knows its audience isn’t their for the aesthetics as much as they are looking to quickly go through and make a purchase without having to put too much thought or time into it.

However, all visitors are met immediately with this cross-promotional offer:

Cross-promotional offer

Eh, it’s not something I’m particularly interested, and they misspelled “exclusives” but I don’t necessarily hate the try. They figure it’s not a ton of effort for people to simply close the offer, and any additional sales they can potentially get is all gravy to them.

Again, their product page itself is a clean, minimal design:

Clean product page

Once I click the CTA ‘Pre-Order’ it automatically adds the item to my cart. Instead of taking me immediately to the checkout cart, it brings me to their entire listing page of all their products. They want me to keep shopping:

Listing page

I have to admit, I kind of wanted the Throw Pillow. I clicked on it to check it out, but in the end decided against adding it to my cart.

Cart page

The final page looks trustworthy and straightforward. Purchase complete.

Now they have me as a customer they can retarget to again in the future. Perhaps I’ll get an email asking if I want that Throw Pillow I was looking at. Perhaps they’ll hit me with offers for other Colbert-related content. As long as they keep me engaged or delighted with their emails, I’ll continue to subscribe and live as a potential return customer.

The campaign behind the campaign

Stephen Colbert is a funny guy, a smart ecommerce entrepreneur, and a good guy overall. The next night, he announced all proceeds from this promotion would go to World Central Kitchen, a non-profit who has been providing meals for the unpaid workers.

That is the real lesson here.

Yes, he’s running a merch campaign, however, the greater promotion directed at his audience is to keep us watching his show. He blends his mug campaign in an entertaining way that stays on-brand. It gives me a good feeling supporting his cause and contributes to me continuing to watch future videos wherever I find them online. I’ll support his brand and spread the word, which is exactly what every smart ecommerce storeowner wants from its audience.

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