Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Can Has A Profit?

If laughter is the best medicine, then Ben Huh is Dr. Feelgood. Huh is CEO of Cheezburger Network, the wildly successful family of websites that feature hilarious captions of cats, dogs, human failings, and other common topics. How successful? Well, for starters, the company was profitable from day one. How many website start ups can say that? Second, the company is averaging 8.5 million page views a week and 11 million visitors per month. That’s how successful.

Fast Company recently interviewed Huh and asked what’s driving his company’s success. I came away with three lessons we marketers can learn from Huh and Cheezburger Network.

Make it relevant. Cats, dogs, and humans are always relevant. And finding something funny about them is universal, especially with an economy in the dumps, high unemployment, higher underemployment, and an over generally blah outlook in society. Huh has found a way to connect.

Make it a community. Users contribute photos and open it up to others to submit captions. It’s a place people want to come back to and bring friends. You don’t just stumble upon these sites. Someone tells you about them and gets you hooked.

Make it simple. The sites are all arranged similarly, so when you go to a new Cheezburger Network site, it’s arranged like the other ones and is familiar and comfortable. Also, there are few moving parts, just a caption and a photo or video. You either get it and laugh or don’t and move on to the next one. Usually, you get it and move on. That’s what’s driving their skyrocketing page views.

I’m a dog person, so my favorite is I Has A Hotdog. In 5 minutes I can get a laugh without wasting a lot of time, which is easy to do online. That’s the beauty of Huh’s sites. They add just enough content every day to keep you coming back, but not so much that you have to spend hours staying current.

Congratulations to Ben Huh for taking a simple concept and building a Cheezburger Empire.