Who Is An Entrepreneur That Succeeds By Pestering His Neighbor?
by Arturo F Munoz
(San Francisco Bay Area, California)
Who is an entrepreneur? Perhaps someone who makes a fortune, you might think. Well, Jim Varney made a fortune. He died a multimillionaire. How? He focused on local needs.
So very often today we read of one entrepreneur after another trying to make it big universally online or by franchising nationwide or by becoming famous to tens of thousands of contacts via social media to make a killing in global traffic income using Google AdSense or national affiliate programs or international multi-level marketing.
But who pays attention to the millionaire nearer to home, you know, the business owner focused on the local market? Who is an entrepreneur in the local market?
That's how Jim Varney made his pennies. And they piled up...
Varney became a local sensation playing a character named Ernest T. Whorral. Ernest had a friend called Vern. Vern always sat behind a camera. Vern always minded his own business, until his nosy neighbor Ernest showed up to start a monologue with the words: "Hey, Vern."
These words made Jim Varney a fortune. How?
Varney did ads only for regional clients. His gags, his jokes, his style didn't really change. He would use the same material with different products. But he would do so in different regions of the country.
His audience was local and would associate him with one local company through a local TV station. If somebody happened to be outside the region to see another Varney ad on another local station, it would be obvious that Varney was repeating the gag with another local company. But these were different markets, different clients and different viewers.
Varney followed this technique to riches. He did not do national advertising or metro areas like New York or Los Angeles. Yet by 1984 he had made more than 800 commercials, which finally drew massive media attention to him.
All along, nevertheless, he had believed that doing national ads would burn out his character Ernest. He was right. He stuck to local markets until he got too big for them.
Then he went national.
Who is an entrepreneur locally? The one who intimately knows his neighbor. Varney knew his audience and where the money was. Do you?
What story can you tell us about the needs of your local neighbor? Are you another Jim Varney or just another Vern?