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Marketing Strategies Used By a Rock Band!

I can't say that I was ever a BIG fan of the Grateful Dead, but I have to tell you an article in yesterday's Cincinnati Enquirer caught my eye! So, what can a rock band teach you about marketing? Evidently PLENTY! The Grateful Dead are kinda the pioneers of viral marketing. They made a series of important choices to separate themselves from everyone in their industry. Their success came from doing just the opposite of what other brands and recorded labels were doing at the time, which in turn cultivated their fan base.

So, what did they do? A couple big things was… They GAVE AWAY content and … They put their FANS FIRST! The following is the article I read in the November 14th Cincinnati Sunday Enquirer, which appeared in the business section. Grateful Dead can give you a marketing lesson or two. by David Holthaus "It may have been a long, strange trip, but look where it's led. Sunday night, the latest reincarnation of the Grateful Dead will make it's first appearance together in Cincinnati in 20 years. Maybe it should be required attendance for anyone interested in marketing, building brands, and connecting with customers. Think of it as a offline seminar. After 45 years of building audiences and creating generations of loyal fans, the Dead has suddenly become a business case study. Newly published "Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead" (John Wiley and Sons, $21.95) is just the latest book to analyze the phenomenon of the tie-dyed band. It's co-written by marketing strategist David Merrman Scott, who as a student in the early '80's at Kenyou College in central Ohio, spent hours in his dorm room listening to the potent mix of rock, blues, country and psychedelia that is unmistakably Dead. Those hours have yielded insight into how the band not only kept its fans interested, but expanded that base to a whole new generation that barely remembers its deceased leading light, Jerry Garcia. "The Grateful Dead pioneered many social media and inbound marketing concepts that businesses across all industries use today," Scott says. "Every business can learn from what the Grateful Dead has done over a 45-year career."

For example: * The Dead pioneered a "freemium" business model now used by many. Most bands forbid fans from recording concerts. The Dead not only encouraged it, they carved out space where "tapers" could set up sophisticated recording equipment. That built a trading network among fans, creating a powerful word-of-mouth momentum that only whet the appetite for more. * Their business model was the exact opposite of most rock bands. Instead of focusing on selling albums, they created an "experience" centered around live performances. That created a passionate fan base that lasted and grew for years. * They put their customers-their fans first. The Dead bypassed ticket-selling giants like Ticketmaster and sold tickets directly. Hard-core fans got the first news about tours and first crack at the best seats, again driving loyalty. "So many organizations do precisely the opposite," Scott says. "Instead of putting loyal customers first, they ignore them while they try to get new ones." In March, The Atlantic magazine ran "Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead," which quoted Florida business professor Barry Barnes on how he uses the Dead to teach strategy to business execs. "People are just so tired of hearing about GE and Southwest Airlines," he said. 'They get really excited to hear about the Grateful Dead."

If you do more research on Google about the Grateful Dead, you will find lots of information about their marketing strategies and style. But, here are 3 of my favorites that they did.

*Give up control of your marketing messages. Instead of trying to DEFINE yourself with a rigid brand so-to-speak, let the community you are in define and talk about you. The end result will be a larger community of people who follow you.

*Give Gratefully! Giving back to the community and those who follow you is an essential element of your image. A consistent and sustained level of giving has significant benefits for any business.

*Do what you LOVE now! Don't wait to get it right. Your passion will keep you persevering through the rough times. The Grateful Dead taught people to live their own dreams -NOT someone elses. So there you have it… marketing strategies used by a rock band!call.



{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Lidia November 15, 2010, 6:05 pm

    Wow, thank you for sharing this Carol!!!!!
    What a great article and so on point to what we do.

  • Linda and Paul November 15, 2010, 4:30 pm

    Carol, loved this. I’m with you Grateful Dead was never my cup of tea however their genius shows in their marketing strategy as to how to become bigger than life and branding yourself as unique in your own right. I love it and it makes everything we are doing, hit home as to being yourself and give away and in return you will get even more. Thanks for sharing this article I loved it.

  • Roland Leveille November 26, 2010, 9:53 pm

    Thank you Carol, I on the other hand like the Dead!
    What a great find. This is so interesting and so so true. Focus on the people and by word of mouth you become a rock star.

    “What you give away, you always get to keep”

  • The GREAT Edward November 29, 2010, 9:42 pm

    Excellent message to share. Our reputation is defined by our followers, but our character is defined by what we do.

    Make it a great day!
    God Bless,
    The GREAT Edward!

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