5 Lessons from M*A*S*HSeptember 2nd, 2015

mashThose who read my posts know I relate everything to web design, development and the management of websites. (I know, makes me a geek. I am what I am :)) This summer has been no different. Bored with TV, I like many people have gone to Netflix. I stumbled upon MASH, a show I watched as kid, liked but in truth never appreciated fully. As I watch more and more episodes I realize what made this show special and one of the most successful of all time.

Here are my 5 lessons:

  1. Content – People tend to think a show is only as good as its cast. While generally this is true, MASH lost many of its stars over the years.  After a couple of seasons, Wayne Rogers and McLean Stevenson left.  The show survived and flourished. Larry Linville left, the show survived.  Why? because the writing was amazing, the scripts were a work of art. There are more reasons as well which we will get into, but certainly content was number 1.
    Lesson Learned: Content is the most important thing, whether you are a website or writing for social media. People want to do well in search, but they worry more about what something looks like rather than investing in the most important thing, content. Put money and time into improving your content and posting new, quality content on a consistent basis.
  2. Tug at the heart strings – MASH was a comedy, no doubt, but what made it special was that it truly was emotional.  The show could make you laugh, sure but it could make you cry as well.  When Radar comes into the operating room with no mask to say that Colonel Henry Blake’s plane had been shut down over the sea of Japan, I cried like a baby. MASH made you care about these people, even though they were fictional.
    Lesson Learned: Show your heart. Don’t only show your skills, show a bit more, humanize your company. People don’t like cold, faceless companies.  Nice testimonials, showing you go the extra mile, go a long a way.  On social media, show the fun side of your company.  If you do charity work, show it. People want to do business with people they like and respect. If all you do is sell to people, they grow bored and go elsewhere.
  3. Longevity – The series, which depicted events occurring during a three-year military conflict, spanned 256 episodes and lasted 11 seasons. Incredible, the show was much longer than the Korean conflict.  In television, as a series stays on the air, more and more people become aware and tune in.
    Lesson Learned: Longevity in the web world is important.  Google definitely factors this into their algorithm as it should.  A company that sprouts up complete with a new website won’t outperform a company that has been around for many years (at least for a while). The lesson is patience and not to expect search engine success right away. Add quality content, on a consistent basis and search engine success will come. And remember, MASH struggled in year one in terms of ratings as did Seinfeld.
  4. Don’t give up on what works.  MASH is the best example of this in entertainment history. McLean Stevenson, Wayne Rogers, Larry Linville and Gary Burghoff all left before the series ended. They all had their reasons, but none came close to the success they had on MASH. As an actor you dream of participating in show that lasts over a decade.
    Lesson Learned: Don’t abandon a ship that ain’t sinking. If your site works well, don’t be so eager to move to a completely new one, especially if you have search engine success. Say you have a site that has great content but not mobile-friendly.  Rather than blow it up, consider tweaking the design so your site is responsive. We have done this with sites and the results have been impressive.
  5. Quality – Watching MASH this summer I realized it isn’t one thing that makes the show great. The writing is brilliant, the acting, the direction, the sets. EVERYTHING! There are virtually no flaws in the show’s execution.
    Lesson Learned: Pay attention to every detail.  Design, coding, testing, graphics, performance are all important. Even things like grammar are truly important. Poorly written content is a major turnoff. No detail is unimportant on a website.  Attention to details pay dividends.

Bottom Line:  You can learn a lot by studying the success of others, even if it is a different industry. In this case it was a classic TV show, but you can apply this to other industries as well. See what makes them a success and apply to your business.


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