Three Marketing Lessons I Learned from Tiger King

I finished the Netflix show, “Tiger King,” a few weeks back… 📺

And while I originally wasn’t going to write any more about the series,

I have a few thoughts about the show that I can’t get out of my head. 🤯

These are specifically related to direct response marketing too.

So, let me go ahead…🤓

1. The Secret Behind Mass Appeal: Fascinating Characters and a Wildly Compelling Story 

One of the most remarkable things about Tiger King is how universally enjoyed it has been.

People from all walks of life – liberal and conservative, young and old, urban and rural – have watched the show and loved it.

I think the reason why comes down to two key elements:

copywriting and marketingFascinating characters and a wildly compelling story. 

As humans, we’re attracted to the out-of-the-ordinary and the extraordinary…

When characters are larger than life, we can’t turn away.

And you certainly get that in Tiger King.

You’ve got polygamist cult leaders, convicted felons, potential murder suspects, retired drug lords, redneck meth-head zookeepers, reality TV show producers, and more… (!)

Then you put them in the context of a murky and unregulated industry… throw in a shit ton of tigers and other exotic animals… have a bloody rivalry… introduce a crazy power dynamic and struggle (the battle for Joe’s zoo)… mix it up with some unbelievable political campaigns… throw in some lawsuits… raise some legit murder allegations (Carol)… spice it up with aforementioned polygamy, meth, and cult-like atmosphere…

…And cap it all off with a potential murder-for-hire…

You’ve got the recipe for a smashing success.

copywriting and marketingDirect Response Application: 

Your sales copy and messaging will connect better with your audience if you tell them a compelling story (about the spokesperson, about the product, about the discovery of the mechanism, and so on).

It’ll also benefit from having interesting and compelling characters (the spokesperson, rivals, antagonists, mentors, etc).

2. Never Underestimate the Power of Good Timing 

Given Netflix’s massive distribution platform and viewership,

Along with Tiger King’s characters and story…

The show was always going to be a success.

But, it still benefitted tremendously from good timing.

I did a preliminary search and it’s unclear whether or not Netflix moved up Tiger King’s release date specifically to coincide with the lockdown…

Or, if they just happened to get really lucky…

But, either way,

Releasing such a compelling show during a time when virtually all of America is at home, bored, and looking for a distraction…

Definitely played a big role in increasing the immediate impact and virality of the series.

It’s a reminder that great characters and a compelling story are important…

But good timing matters even more.

Direct Response Application: 

Timing is important.

For example, I just released my RMBC Copywriting Course. And timing has been on my mind a ton.

On one hand, it’s great timing because people are trapped at home, and looking to find productive ways to spend their time and improve themselves.

On the other hand, there’s the risk that the economy goes to crap and nobody buys my program. Overall, most freelancers and business owners I know are doing pretty well, so I don’t think the economic factor is going to be a huge deal.

copywriting and marketingBut, that being said – you better believe timing is playing a part in my strategy.

It’s the same for anyone bringing any product to market. We always hear stories about products and ideas that were too far ahead of their time. We also hear stories about people who waited too long to act on a great idea.

In both cases, failure is at least partially a function of bad timing.

3. Everyone is the Hero In Their Own Story (And Often Also the Victim)

One thing that becomes clear from watching Tiger King,

Is that all of the main characters in the documentary look at themselves as the hero in their own story.

They’re on the side of truth and righteousness…

While the rest of the people in their universe occupy different roles ranging from nemesis, to pawn, to ally.

The even more important observation though,

Is that Tiger King reminds us that people can be both the hero and the victim in their own story.

Joe Exotic certainly fits that mold… he’s the Tiger King, but he’s also persecuted by a revolving door of enemies.

Jeff Lowe walks the line of savior and victim all day long (even as he victimizes)…

And Carole Baskin certainly thinks of herself as the hero of this narrative… even as she’s busy fearing for her life.

copywriting and marketingDirect Response Application: 

It’s the same for everyone you’re marketing to as well. When you’re speaking to the prospect, you want to embrace this duality.

You want to celebrate them as a hero, someone who is about to step out into the great unknown and make a brave decision to change their life, or the lives of those they love, by buying your product.

But you also want to address their victimhood too. Acknowledge it.

You want to say “you’re right, you have been the victim of an unfair system, or industry, or marketing lies. You should be MAD about that. But today, this is your chance to fight back, to stand up, and to be the hero you’ve always known you could be!”

And again, it turns out that the best way to stand up is to buy whatever it is you’re selling 😉

Anyways, that’s it for today.

Now I’m going to be jumping into writing some sales copy…

And doing my best to start my day off with a kick-ass start.

Hope you have a great start to your day as well.


P.S. This post originally came from an email I sent to my private list. If you want to see more stuff like this from me, you can apply to join my list using this link.


© 2022 SPG Educational Resources LLC
Stefan Georgi

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