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Mastering Guerrilla Marketing and Entrepreneurship with Scott Dickers from The Onion

Welcome back, everyone! Today, we’re diving into the world of guerrilla marketing, entrepreneurship, and the grind it takes to build a business. Our special guest is none other than Scott Dicker’s, co-founder of The Onion. Scott will share insights on his journey from creating a tiny college humor newspaper to building a global comedy brand.

Meet Scott Dickers

Scott Dickers is a comedy genius who always had a knack for humor. From drawing funny cartoons as a kid to landing his first professional job with a daily comic strip, Scott’s career has been packed with laughs. He co-founded The Onion, a satirical news publication, which quickly became a household name worldwide.

The Decision Behind The Onion’s Branding

Unlike others who brand their businesses with their personal names, Scott strategically chose to keep his name separate from The Onion. This decision safeguarded the publication, allowing it to stand on its own without being tied to any individual. The brand became the star, not Scott or any of the writers behind it.

The Early Struggles and Guerrilla Tactics

In 1989, Scott bought The Onion for just $3,000 and turned it into a comedy empire. But it wasn’t easy. It took grit, raw passion, and an unyielding drive to succeed.

The Passion to Push Through

For Scott, comedy wasn’t just a job; it was a necessity. This emotional need to do what he loved pushed him to work without worrying about profits. He knew that as long as he loved what he was doing, the money would follow.

Tactics to Build a Brand from Scratch

Scott emphasized firing on all cylinders – utilizing every possible medium to get the word out. Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of media he targeted:

  • Written Word: The printed issues of The Onion.
  • Video/TV: Producing web videos and TV shows.
  • Stage: Touring college campuses and delivering live performances.
  • Visuals: Integrating compelling images and graphics.
  • Audio: Collaborating with local radio stations.
  • Street Art: Distributing the paper in public, creating a surprise element.

By hitting all these mediums, Scott ensured that The Onion was everywhere, maximizing its reach and impact.

Crafting and Heightening the Brand

To build a standout brand, Scott knew he had to find The Onion’s unique voice and push its boundaries. This meant embracing controversy and being unapologetically bold.

The Infamous “Drunk of the Week”

One popular feature was “Drunk of the Week,” where staffers would photograph and interview the drunkest person they could find. This was a huge hit with readers but was eventually phased out as The Onion evolved. Scott understood the power of leaving the audience wanting more, which contributed to the brand’s allure.

Finding and Managing the Right Talent

Scaling The Onion meant finding people who were just as passionate about comedy. Scott looked for those who loved the work so much they would do it for free. Passion over skills was his mantra.

Delegating with Trust

Hiring talented people is one thing; trusting them is another. Scott learned that to truly scale, he had to let go and give his team the freedom they needed. He trained them, let them own their roles, and saw them often exceed his expectations.

Company Brand vs. Personal Brand

Scott’s choice to build The Onion as a company brand instead of a personal brand offered flexibility and longevity. It allowed The Onion to survive staff turnovers and keep its consistent voice.

Building a Personal Brand

Switching gears, Scott is now focused on building his personal brand. This involves figuring out who he is, how he’s perceived, and leveraging that to create a unique and memorable image. He emphasizes the importance of balancing personal identity with the brand’s message.

Key Habits and Mindset for Success

Scott attributes much of his success to a few key habits and mindsets: an emotional need to succeed, meditation, and gratitude.

Meditation and Visualization

Scott discovered meditation deeply through necessity. After contracting an incurable nervous disorder due to stress, he used visualization techniques to manage his symptoms. Within months, he was walking again, demonstrating the power of the mind in overcoming physical challenges.

Gratitude and Enjoying the Journey

Along with meditation, practicing gratitude helped Scott stay positive and focused. He reminds us that enjoying the journey is just as important as achieving the goal. It’s about being present and finding joy in the work itself.

Core Principles of Guerrilla Marketing

To sum up, here are Scott’s core principles for guerrilla marketing:

  • Fire on All Cylinders: Utilize all forms of media to spread your message.
  • Know Your Voice and Heighten It: Be bold and consistent in your brand voice.
  • Embrace Controversy: Don’t shy away from it; use it to your advantage.

What’s Next for Scott Dickers?

Scott is now focusing on helping others build their comedy and business brands. Through online courses like Comedy Business School and Personal Branding, he aims to share his knowledge with aspiring comedians and entrepreneurs.

New Projects

Scott is also working on a new humor website,, and continues to offer public speaking and consulting services. His goal is to impart the lessons he’s learned and help others find success.


Scott Dicker’s journey from co-founding The Onion to now building a personal brand is filled with lessons in grit, passion, and smart marketing. Whether you’re in comedy, real estate, or any other field, these principles can help you build a successful and enduring brand.

For more insights and tips from Scott, be sure to follow him on social media and check out his latest projects. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments below. Let’s keep this conversation going!

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