Article | Fabulous Women

What can we learn from Comic Relief?

Posted on 16/03/2013

So once again Comic Relief has broken all records and made a staggering £75.1 million in one evening. What's more they have made that in a time of austerity and stretched personal budgets. Is there something we can learn and apply to our businesses from the way they do it? I believe there is.

Let's start with the marketers' classic mantra AIDA. If you haven't come across this before AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. Our marketing has to get all of these to hit the spot and certainly Comic Relief does all of these brilliantly. I know that taking over a prime TV channel for an entire night is a sure fire way to gain attention but they have been leading us towards participation for several months. We've had celebrities doing daredevil stunts, designing merchandise and visiting projects all of which have had publicity. What's more we have been attracted to Red Nose Day merchandise when we've been shopping and with posters and advertising as we've gone about our daily routines. I don't think there could have been many people who did not know that Friday 15th March was Red Nose Day. 

Lesson 1: Use lots of methods to gain attention. People can't buy from a business they've never heard of.  Most of the people who have heard of you won't buy or buy any time soon so we need a lot of people to know about us. We need to be present both online and offline with a message that will attract our target audience to pay attention.

Of course getting attention isn't enough, unless we can generate interest we will have lost our target's attention in around six seconds. Comic Relief gains our interest by showing us human suffering. It's hard to ignore images of babies with tubes being inserted into their heads to get urgently needed medicine to the heart of the problem quickly. It's hard not to be moved by a mother's dignified personal story of her son's suicide. Comic Relief uses emotion and we need to do the same. 


Lesson 2: Stories can be a great way to generate and keep interest and to make an emotional connection. But the stories should be about our clients and their problems not about us. Too many business owners get caught up in their own stories which are unlikely to be of great interest to a new prospect. Our target market will be interested if they hear a story that they can empathise with, a story which might resonate with them. What stories can you tell?


Attention and interest are not enough to get people to part with their money. They need to want what we're offering. For Comic Relief that is easy they turn up the emotion button. We would have to be very hard hearted not to want to help and Comic Relief makes it easy to see how we can help. £5 to buy an anti mosquito net to stop a baby contracting malaria,£10 for an injection against five life threatening diseases. Comic Relief makes us believe that even a small donation can have life saving value. So we have a desire to help.

Lesson 3: Create desire by showing your target audience what they have to gain from working with you. Can you put a monetary value on that? Can you offer a specific outcome? Can you remove the pain they are feeling?

So now we want to help Comic Relief makes it really easy for us to do so. To take the action. Leading up to Red Nose Day we've been able to apply for fund raising packs to help us to find ways of making money for them and on the night all we have to do it to send a text to have a donation added to our mobile phone bills. How easy is that? We don't even have to get off the sofa! 

Lesson 4: Make it easy for people to take action. Tell them what you want them to do. Encourage them to do it now. Don't make the action too complicated or passive. Give them an instruction. Give them the phone number; allow them to book an appointment in one step; ask for the minimum of details on a sign up form. 

However Comic Relief recognise that AIDA is not enough. We need to be convinced that our money will be well spent. They need to deal with our objections. We've all heard stories of corruption, of money being spent on administration and of highly paid charity executives and we don't want to fund those things. We need to know that our donations will make a difference and Comic Relief gets that. We are shown success stories delivered with Comic Relief money. We are told that all our money goes to the projects Comic Relief supports rather than being spent on administration. We are told that the Government or the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation will match our donations for specific projects. Comic Relief think about what reasons we might give ourselves for not donating and addresses them head on. They remove objections.

Lesson 5: Anticipate the objections your prospects might have and deal with them. Explain what your prospect might be thinking, acknowledge that these thoughts are valid but not appropriate in your case. Demonstrate how you can help. Use testimonials from happy clients. Offer a water tight guarantee. Remove your prospect's objections and look forward to a new customer.

So there you have the five business lessons that I think we can learn from Comic Relief, there are probably more, did you find them? Why not share them here?

Glenda Shawley is the Ambassador for the Brentford and Hounslow Netwinning group which meets from 10-12 on the second Thursday of every month at the Coach and Horses, London Rd. Isleworth. Glenda runs The Training Pack which helps people start and grow small businesses. She runs training courses in business start up and marketing, supports business owners with their marketing planning and does copywrting for websites, brochures, newsletters etc. To book a complimentary half hour, no obligation consultation with Glenda go to

 NB I can't find how to add a caption to the photograph, it is women making soap to trade in Senegal working with the charity Cause Premiere.

Back Author : Glenda Shawley

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