Oprah's Farewell Will Leave a Void for Small Businesses


Reuters is reporting that the impact of Oprah Winfrey's endorsement of consumer items will be missed, now that the show is off of the air. Deborah L. Cohen writes about the sweets company MarieBelle. Within one month after being named one of Oprah's Favorite Things, MariBelle booked $600,000 worth of business. Aside from the chaos that Oprah's endorsement brings because of the volume of sales that need to be filled, it is a boon to the small-business owner.

Cohen reports, "Putting her stamp on your product — everyone wants it," said Patty West, founder of Bozeman, Mont.-based Good Karmal, whose candies were also singled out by Winfrey in 2002. The business, now approaching $1 million in sales, has seen growth every year since. "You'll never be prepared for what's coming."

The "Oprah effect" predated social networks, which are now used to accomplish what she did with a single show: capitalize on the trust and respect that consumers have for a celebrity by having him or her endorse products that he or she actually uses. It always appears that Winfrey uses the products because of her enthusiasm and personal stories about the product.


Such was the case with the ZAGGmate, a protective case for the iPad that doubles as an external keyboard. It was introduced to Oprah watchers by entertainer MC Hammer, a Zagg investor, in a segment about how the former hip-hop star has reinvented himself as a businessman.

After the show aired, sales of the product jumped in electronics retailers and again rose following a rerun more than a month later. Meanwhile, shares of Salt Lake City-based Zagg Inc. (ZAGG.O) reached an all-time high in the first quarter. "The notoriety and publicity it received on The Oprah Winfrey Show has had a significant impact," said Derek Smith, vice president of sales and marketing for Zagg. "Money can't buy that kind of exposure."

How cool is it that Winfrey used her influence to help MC Hammer redeem himself as a businessman? It's clear that if Oprah puts her stamp on it, it will be a success, which is why we aren't worried about what she will do next. She is a winner, which is why small businesses win with Winfrey in tow. Small businesses existed before The Oprah Winfrey Show, and they will continue now that it's gone. The possibility of being discovered by Lady O and what that means for your business is gone for now — because you never know with Oprah.

Read more at Reuters.

In other news: Chase Austin to Make Historic Run at 2011 Freedom 100 Today.

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