Like many, I have recently finished the podcast Missing Richard Simmons. I consumed it eagerly, like the heartfelt, voyeuristic confection it is. I don't think I am going to spoil anything when I say that the podcast failed to produce Simmons, as reports that he's staying firmly out of the public eye counter each and every buzzy article about the podcast.
One thing the podcast did not ache for is raw, emotional impact. Unique, wrenching perspective into the guru's life through those close to him were enough prickle my eyes with a hot tear or two.
There was no denying that Simmons helped many, many people transform physically and improve their lives. The podcast did touch on his monumental business success all spawning from Slimmons, but I drew the following conclusions that support this headline's bold claim.
Why do I think Richard Simmons is one of the best marketers?
The discussion of how empathetic Simmons was to so many people over his expansive career is mentioned several times, especially from personal accounts of his fans. He didn't have to repeatedly convince his audience that he cared about them and/or believed in their ability to lose weight. Granted, we are talking about Richard Simmons here, and his energy is easily recognizable and totally contagious. Unfailing, even. Class after class, VHS tape after VHS tape, you knew you were about to be served a healthy dosage of motivation and It's My Party. Which brings me to my next point..
He was consistent.
Simmon's brand is charming and energetic. From a Slimmons class to Letterman, you knew what you were signing up for. Simmons understood what his unique value was, and it was sparkles and dancing and 5, 6, 7 and 8. And it worked. Being consistent afforded him to exist outside the realm of mere kitsch or one-hit spectacle, and meander closer to easy recognition and household name status. Nearly everyone knows immediate characteristics associated with Simmons, and that took dedication.
He understood his audience.
There is a reason Simmons would sweat to the oldies. It was music he grew up with, and like every 90's kid knows, nostalgia is a potent ingredient for a brand experience. It's an immediate, disarming musk that'll tumble your guard down and rush you toward its familiarity. It will get you smiling, laughing, and dancing -- perfect for Simmons. That's the immediate dopamine rush that serves a foundation for a real connection, the first step in earning an audience.
I think there's some hesitation in recognizing anything Simmons did as marketing strategy. I fall on the side of believing he truly cared about his students and friends, but that doesn't make him any less of a genius marketer.
I also fall on the side of thinking wherever he is now and whatever he is doing is his business alone. Still, Missing Richard Simmons is worth a listen for thoughtful examination on one man (in spandex), and his positive influence on lives (and business).