Small Business Marketing According to Bob Ross

by | May 8, 2017 | Marketing, Blog, Outside the Box, Strategy | Entrepreneurship

This past weekend was extremely rainy, cloudy, and crappy. So, I spent it like any normal person would: locked up inside my house binging on Netflix. My show of choice this fine, terrible weekend? The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Bob Ross is basically the coolest guy ever. Sporting a glorious afro, beard, and a voice as soft as silk, Bob Ross hosted The Joy of Painting for over 10 years. In 30 minutes, he takes a blank canvas and turns it into a beautiful work of art fit for the waiting room of any doctor’s office. On paper, his show sounds like a bore. But, it is an almost hypnotic experience watching him paint and ramble on about his pet squirrels, his days as a carpenter, and referring to trees and bushes as “rascals.” If you haven’t had the pleasure, take 30 minutes after a stressful day to check him out.

After watching a couple hours worth of Bob Ross I came to two realizations, the first being that I probably need to get a life. The second, and most important, realization I had was that a lot of the principles and ideas Bob Ross presents while painting mountains, bushes, and trees can be applied to your small business marketing.

Sound crazy? Well, maybe like Bob Ross himself, I am a little crazy. But, hear me out.


“Happy Accidents”

In Bob Ross’ world, there are no failures or mistakes. Instead they are called “happy accidents.” 

In small business marketing, everything you do may not be a success. Campaigns or specials sometimes fall flat. That new, hot Facebook tool may not yield the awesome results you were hoping for. Your email newsletter may not get a ton of interaction. Whatever the shortcoming may be, don’t be discouraged, don’t stop pressing on. Think of them as “happy accidents.”

A shortcoming does not equal a disaster. The shortcoming is only a failure if you fail to use it as a learning experience. Take the time to figure out where you went wrong. Tweak your messaging or targeting for your next campaign. Try a different method or approach altogether. Experiment with a new call to action. Do a little research on the best ways to reach your target audience and see what other successful companies are doing.


Your Painting is Special

One thing Bob Ross says over and over on his show is that he doesn’t want you to copy what he is doing (chances are you’ll fail anyway). Instead, he stresses technique, so that you can apply it to your own painting to make it special and different.

Now, replace painting with your brand.

Your brand is special. A successful business brand isn’t made by emulating someone else’s success. A successful brand is made by digging deep and figuring out for yourself what makes you different and better than the rest. Use your own creativity, don’t just be a copycat. 

How do you develop a successful brand? Well, it takes time. A strong logo and colors, yes, but you also need to develop your own distinct voice and identity. Your brand doesn’t stop at the logo.

Love What You Do

If you know someone that loves what they do more than Bob Ross, I’d surely like to meet them. Even if what he is painting isn’t super exciting, his passion and love for it is infectious. The fact that he cares so much makes you care.

The same goes for your business. Your product or service may not be the sexiest or most exciting. But, if you care enough about what you do and put the effort behind it, that level of care and excitement will come through in your marketing and your target audience is more likely to have a stronger reaction.

You get out of marketing what you put in. Going the extra mile and taking original photos will make more engaging social media content. Passionate, well thought out and entertaining blogs that don’t just focus on SEO will make the reader actually care about the content. Your marketing doesn’t have to be a chore.


“Let’s get crazy!”

In any given episode, ol’ Bob Ross here will no doubt say this multiple times. Now for Bob, crazy means shading the side of a mountain. For you, crazy should mean trying new things.

There is a world of new and exciting marketing tools and platforms out there. Experiment with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Explore the different marketing tools on these platforms like paid ads, canvases, live video, and slideshows. Start blogging to not only generate new content for your website but to help establish yourself as an authority. Try investing in Google Adwords to bring more traffic to your site. Create downloads to provide prospects information in return for contact information.

Don’t ever put preconceived restrictions on your marketing. Your strongest marketing tool might be something you’ve never tried before, or ever heard of.


The Bob Ross Approach to Marketing (a name which I may patent) may be a little silly, but it is none the less true. Whether you are just starting out or you’ve been at it for awhile, your marketing can always improve. 

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