Marketing Lessons from Car Talk

Last week, the hosts of the long-running NPR show Car Talk announced they’ll retire at the end of September.

Brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi (known as Click and Clack on the air) have been on the radio for 35 years, with 25 of those broadcast nationally through NPR.

Longtime fans are greeting the news with sadness. Nathan Heller at Slate writes, “…what many of us will miss most about Car Talk isn’t the show itself. It’s the contact with a world that the Magliozzis helped invent and bring to life, each week, on the air.”

The show, which answers questions on car troubles, rattles, rumbles and more, has teaching moments beyond what’s under the hood.

Business Insider has pulled five lessons for small businesses from the radio show, based on the success and loyal fan base of Car Talk.

1. “Use humor to make your marketing messages more interesting.”

2. “Don’t be afraid to use (self-deprecation) to make your audience laugh with you and not at you.”

3. “(Make) your message clearly understood no matter what the expertise of your audience is.”

4. “Use examples of your past successes and testimonials from your customers, past and present.”

5. “All messages should have a clear call to action of what you want the audience to do.”

Though September will mark the end of new recordings, fans will still be able to hear archives of the show and read the Magliozzis’ column, called “Dear Tom and Ray.”  Their continuing work may hold another lesson: Just because you’re slowing down, you don’t have to give up your passion, your relationships and your expertise.

“The guys are culturally right up there with Mark Twain and the Marx Brothers,” said Doug Berman, executive producer of the show. “They will stand the test of time. People will still be enjoying them years from now. They’re that good.”

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