Last week, the Vermont Valley News had an article about a Downton Abbey support group that formed after the second season was over. No I’m not making this up.
People were so enamored and glued to their TV every Sunday night to watch Mary and Mathew make horrendous romantic decisions that there are actually people going through withdrawals since the third season is not available until January of 2013.
The group has decided they can’t take the suspense, so they’re creating their own story of what they think should happen.
Who cares about the Presidential elections, what the heck is going to happen with Bates and Anna?
So I’ve asked quite a few people, how is it that a bunch of Americans could be so drawn to a British period drama?
The answer is multidimensional. Here are some of the comments I’ve received;
The acting is so great, the actors inhabit the personalities and roles they’re playing.
It’s like watching world-class Shakespeare set in post WWI England.
The costumes are true to the period and beguiling.
The witty banter between the characters makes them so real you feel like you’re listening in on your next door neighbors (albeit, with a fifty bedroom home).
The story line is historic; everything from the sinking of the Titanic to the horrific war that was supposed to end all wars, WWI, was factually researched and provides us a three dimensional glimpse of history.
The characters become archetypes for the American heiress who wedded British Aristocracy, to the dowager mum who controls everyone behind her batting eyelashes.
These are characters of almost Biblical proportions with their frailties and strengths, we are both inspired to compassion and courage.
So who are Downton Abbey’s target audience?
People who love good theater and appreciate great acting.
Fashionistas who read Vogue and love vintage design.
History buffs who are intrigued with how central events in history have shaped our present.
Soap opera buffs who love a good story line.
Romantics who love to see how star-crossed lovers find their way.
Everyone who needs an escape from the mundane.
Americans are intrigued with the British class system. At the height, 1.5 million people worked in service in Great Britain.
These were the only jobs available to women at that time, that is until the great technological advance of the typewriter. (Isn’t it funny that men never learned to type until computers came around. Hmm…..) I never knew any of that until I watched the show.
What’s can we learn from the popularity of Downton Abbey as small business owners?
A brand needs to capture the imagination of your target audience. Your brand becomes the reason people change their schedules, go out of their way, or patronize your products or services not just because of what you offer, but how it makes them feel.
We’re in the middle of a tough recession in the US. I’m convinced that not only is Downton Abbey some serious entertainment, it transports me to a different time and place.
The elegant costumes, the sweeping vistas of a bygone day are fascinating and glorious.
The struggles of the house staff are universal for those who have dreams and doubt the opportunity to reach for them.
My friend Stephanie asked me which character I liked best.
I told her Mary. Mary has matured and shown she can love unselfishly which probably surprised her as much as it did her viewing audience.
Stephanie liked Anna. Anna is a woman of great loyalty, courage, dignity and honor.
A great message, play, article requires that we engage not just our minds but something in our spirits too.
Downton Abbey was very well researched and brings history alive not just for us, but for our grandparents and great grandparents we probably never met who lived through that period.
Had PBS just used Lora Linney’s intriguing advertisements to promote the show, it might not have been watched as broadly as it has been. PBS was wise to show clips and glimpses of the saga so viewing audiences would be intrigued.
And intrigued we are. What are you doing to invite your customers and potential customers?
Are you giving them the opportunity to sample your service or products before they buy? Are you engaging their hearts and minds?
Do you recognize that not every purchase is fully rational?
Most of the time, people buy because they’re looking to relieve a pain point, be entertained, or feel better about their circumstances.
What value is your business adding? What buying or viewing experience are you creating that is unforgettable?
I was in the doctor’s office waiting for my mother when another patient came in distraught.
She asked me, “I’ve been watching Downton Abbey but missed the last episode. Why is Mary so ashamed? What can’t she talk about?”
For someone to ask a total stranger about Downton Abbey tells me the show was on her mind even when her TV was long turned off. The show stayed with her. That’s the essence of loyalty. What stays with your customers after they’ve bought from you?
Downton Abbey is a feast for the senses.
And as for me, I may just join that support group….
If you need support for your small business hit our big, red, PANIC button and ask me anything that is concerning you. I or one of my colleagues can answer your question. And it won’t cost you anything.
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In your corner as always.