4 lessons from South Park’s success

The long-running animated series South Park has been a comedic television staple for over 15 years. Despite its irreverence and humor, it has succeeded for a reason. Here are some of the business lessons you can glean from the franchise of South Park and its myriad hilarious episodes:

Internet popularity doesn’t always pay.

Creating a totally awesome viral video will not in and of itself generate any financial gains for your company. In order to actually make money off the internet you have to take it a step further. You either need to gain money from advertisers, in which case you’ll indirectly make money from your popularity. Or, you need to have an advertising message couched within your viral video – and need to hope that it actually goes viral with you target marketing audience. In one episode of season 12, the four main characters create a viral YouTube video, but yet they quickly learn that the popularity in and of itself doesn’t actually generate any income.

Controversy sells.

Although South Park relies heavily on taboo, toilet humor, and inappropriate sexual implication, the show has been vastly successful. In 2004, Channel 4 voted South Park the third-greatest cartoon of all time. In 2007, Time put the show on its list of “100 Best TV Shows of All Time.” The list of awards the show has garnered goes on and on – and the show is primarily known for its reliance on taboo topics and potty-mouthed third graders.

You are not an underpants gnome – so have a plan.

In one season two episode, there are a group of underpants gnomes who explicitly outline their three-step business plan. The first step is to collect underpants. The second step is ????, and the third step is PROFIT! In the cartoons, that works, but in real life you need to outline each step of a plan in order to reach your end goals, including PROFIT!

Everybody is best at something, so play to your strengths.

In 2001, the South Park film made the Guinness World Records for “Most Swearing in an Animated Film.” The film did well in sales, but it certainly didn’t set any records for the year. It was the best in that one unique respect, though – most swearing in an animated film. Like South Park, there will be some things that you do really well and some things that you’ll be okay or good at, but not outstanding. Identifying those strengths and learning to focus on utilizing them and having others take care of other areas is key for maximizing your business career.

Can Akdeniz

Can Akdeniz is the author of seven books and founder of Business Hacker, a popular business blog. His books such as Go Nuts, Cool Boss, Happy Company and MBA 2.0 have changed how people think about business, productivity and work.