Remember when Rosie O'Donnell was crowned "The Queen of Nice"? During her day-time talk show days, Rosie was one of the sweetest women on TV. Then the plug got pulled and, well something happened and there was a fundamental change in her media persona in the years that followed. Fast forward to her stint on The View and Rosie's new 'tude is all the rave, garnering The View it's best ratings ever. And now that she's gone from that show, the networks are all scrambling to sign Rosie to a deal of their own.

Putting aside my personal opinion of Rosie O'Donnell, her politics, antics and ignorance, I think Rosie had a good thing going at The View. There she found a level of success with a very specific persona. It's success she's unlikely to find if she transplants that same persona into a different setting.

The new found success of The View--and for that matter, Rosie O'Donnell--is not simple because of a new piece (Rosie) that was added to the show, but more because of a path that lead to that success. In this case, the path is both Rosie's persona and the actual setting that she was in with her co-hosts.

Oddly, this is what the networks don't understand. It's not Rosie itself that will bring them success. Transplanting her into another outlet simply won't work. To be successful, Rosie needs a View type setting and that type of setting succeeds well with a Rosie type persona at the table. (Note: Before anybody wants to think that the networks know their audience better, I would like to point you to the dozens of failed TV shows that get pulled from the schedule every year. TV Execs, just like anybody else, struggle to understand their audience.)

The piece of success

People love antagonistic characters. They love a good bad guy. They love someone who's willing to tell it like it is, or at the very least, tell it like they think it is. Truth, facts, reality, all come secondary to a well constructed verbal lashing. It makes for great TV.

But only in certain situations.

While the "foil" persona may be enjoyed and loved, it only works with a good team of supporting players. These players provide the balance the audience needs in order to enjoy the antagonistic foil. Essential, every foil needs a foil themselves in order to succeed.

This is where I think the networks, scrambling to sign Rosie to a new TV deal, don't quite get the finicky nature of the TV audience. While people like and can relate to the foil, there are not too many people that will sit through an hour (or half hour) of unfiltered, non-stop negativity. They might enjoy it for a while but sooner or later it just "gets old." The audience will soon be complaining that "she's mean!"

I'm not sure what any other network has planned should they sign Rosie to a new TV deal--for that matter, they may not either. But with Rosie's current persona she can't survive in a solo deal. She needs an ensemble cast around her to provide the proper balance and keep the "mean" in check.

The path to success

In order to duplicate previous success, you need to see the big picture. When we find something that works, it may not be for the reasons we initially thought. Only after thoroughly analyzing one success, and seeing the big picture we can realize that the strategy that we thought was the reason for success is really just one of many pieces. It was all of the pieces together that formed the path which led to success.

Understanding the full path to success is just as important as knowing the individual pieces. Duplicating the pieces will often lead to failure, while duplicating the path (streamlined to eliminate errors that happened along the way) will likely achieve yet another success story.

May 2, 2007

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.

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