Marketing Like a Rock Star

March 25, 2016 Alyson Fieldman

There is perhaps no better example of on-point branding and strategic marketing than the extreme success of superstars like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. All digital marketers, regardless of industry, can learn a thing or two from celebrity marketing. Here are my top 10 marketing lessons from some of music’s biggest names.

Lesson #10: Brand Is Everything
Musicians, like brands, have to differentiate themselves and find their unique “voice” or point-of-view (POV). Some performers are better known for their image than for their music. Lady Gaga is one such example—her eccentricity has fueled her stardom. Knowing that the work is table stakes, organizations should focus on crafting a unique brand, one that is memorable and authentic, in order to differentiate. For more insights, check out One North’s Ryan Schulz’s latest article on how to find and understand your unique POV.

Lesson #9: Evolve Your Brand
It’s important to craft a brand that is not only unique and long-lasting, but one that can evolve over time. Madonna, the “Queen of Pop,” is arguably one of the best examples of an artist who continues to reinvent herself. Throughout her career she has admirably retained her authenticity while evolving her brand.

Lesson #8: Nothing Beats a Live Performance
Live concerts are a full-sensory experience and provide direct interaction between performers and fans. Not to mention the big money behind these events: The Rolling Stones, for example, brought in more than $80 million for an 18-concert tour in 2015, securing four of the top 20 highest grossing concert tours of all time. Digital technology and tools like Twitter and Bandsintown amplify the live experience. Marketers can and should continue to take advantage of face-to-face tactics, amplified digitally.

Lesson #7: Video Is the Next Best Thing
Videos are the closest thing to a full-sensory experience and offer the benefit of being on-demand and able to reach a mass audience 24/7. Some critics claim teenage sensation Justin Bieber owes his career to YouTube—the artist’s “Baby” music video is the most watched on Vevo with more than 1.3 billion views. Incorporating high quality, accessible videos in your organization’s content marketing strategy can help your content reach the right fans at the right time.

Lesson #6: Tell a Good Story, and Build Suspense
In a well-choreographed campaign leading up to the release of 2015’s “Mandatory Fun” album, Weird Al baited his captive audience with a series of cryptic images and offbeat media appearances before releasing a series of viral music videos. A huge success, the album became his No. 1 album in his 30-year career. A digital marketing campaign can replicate these elements by using storytelling to release information strategically across social media and other authentic channels.

Lesson #5: Embrace the Element of Surprise
A surprise release of Beyoncé’s 5th album in December 2013 effectively “broke the Internet” as it garnered 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours and sold 800,000 copies in 3 days. Marketers can embrace the “Beyoncé Philosophy” by ignoring the status quo, being disruptive, doing things on their own terms and not shying away from making waves.

Lesson #4: Choose Your Channels Carefully
Many artists have a channel of choice, as we’ve learned with Weird Al and Justin Bieber’s YouTube success. But other musicians, like Ed Sheeran, have turned to alternative tactics, including Spotify, to gain a cult following and a loyal fan base. Digital marketers know that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to communication channels—the key is to choose wisely and stay current.

Lesson #3: Social Media Is Key
Music and Twitter go hand-in-hand—six of the 10 most followed Twitter accounts belong to musical artists. Katy Perry sits at No. 1 with 76M followers. Regardless of the channels your organization chooses to be active on, the key is listening and engaging in two-way dialogue with your clients or customers.

Lesson #2: Collaborate with Other Heavyweights
Hip hop sensations Eminem and Rihanna have a long history of collaborating together, with top hits such as 2010’s “Love the Way You Lie” and “The Monster” in 2013. As marketers think about going to market with a new solution or crossing over into a new vertical, consider collaborating with other trusted experts in your space.

Lesson #1: Focus on Your Fans
Taylor Swift is a marketing mastermind—one of her greatest strengths is fan engagement and her ability to make her audience feel like they’re her best friends. Her music video “Shake it Off” featured her fans, while other initiatives like “Taylurking,” “Swiftmas,” and “T-Parties” offer opportunities for fans to personally interact with the superstar. Taking a cue from “Tay Tay,” marketers should focus on their highest valued customers, making them feel special through personalized communication and touch points, and drive loyalty with rewards, perks or special offers.

These lessons were originally presented during One North’s #1NLab15: Digital Working in Concert. Watch the full presentation here.


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Alyson Fieldman Managing Director, Client Services

At the time of publishing, Alyson was Managing Director, Client Services.

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