Are you a fan of the singer/songwriter Taylor Swift? I certainly am. And I am even a bigger fan of the innovative Taylor Swift brand. Marketing lessons from Taylor Swift are a great output for all of us.
Remember that consumers engage with people, not brands.
Unless you live under a rock, you know that Taylor Swift is a very talented star. Not since Eminem’s global domination of “The Eminem Show” in 2002 has a music artist sold more copies of records. And as background that is with more than a decade of declining music sales and album profits.
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But for many fans of Swift, this doesn’t come as a surprise. She’s been quietly building up to this moment with a career that has consistently delivered her brand directly to audiences for more than a decade.
For any digital marketer, there is a lot to Swift’s approach that can inspire the direction for your brands. Here are many tips to consider.
Her transparency builds familiarity and trust
Swift is a master of social media, from famously lecturing her record company about MySpace when she was 15 years old, to dominating Tumblr this year with her open and honest relationship with her fans. But it’s not just that she’s dedicated to these channels. It’s her tone. She feels so real, so authentic to her fans. Namely, she doesn’t act like the biggest pop star in the world.
She acts like your best friend, someone who gets you, someone real who you can talk to. Marketers need to learn from this tone. On social media, your brand needs to feel friendly and approachable
Friendly and approachable
Swift is a master of social media. It’s her engaging style. She feels so real, so authentic to her fans. Namely, she doesn’t act like the biggest pop star in the world. On social media, your brand needs to feel friendly and approachable. Brand equity is built through being friendly and approachable. No brand has more consistently executed this than Taylor Swift.
Establishing a brand identity requires something distinctive. For instance, Apple has become known worldwide for their innovative products and minimalistic, aesthetic appeal.
Creating an identity like Taylor Swift doesn’t demand an extraordinary talent. It simply needs to have one special thing that separates it from the competition. In reality, it’s possible to be “a one trick pony” as long as that trick is really good. Once a company figures out what that is, it can concentrate on it and should gain recognition in time.
Marketing lessons from Taylor Swift … competitiveness
Gaining an edge in today’s business or entertainment world isn’t easy. For an entertainment brand to make a name for itself, team members should thrive on competition and constantly strive to improve.
When it comes to the major players in any industry, none simply sit back and hope that their consumers will do the work for them. Instead, they tend to be the movers and shakers who work tirelessly toward building and optimizing their brand, going above and beyond consumer expectations.
The result tends to be a like the Taylor Swift brand that is continually on the cutting edge.
Understands social media marketing
Taylor Swift’s social media presence is truly incredible. And she’s everywhere — Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, Line — she has all the channels covered.
But what she and her team understand is that these are unique tools. They don’t broadcast the same post through all social media channels; they use each one differently.
Across every social channel she uses, she is astutely aware of how those channels should be used and how fans on those channels interact with each other. Her social media marketing is distinct, relevant, and just plain right in every place.
All brands need to start recognizing that their one-size-fits-all social media approach is out of touch in this hyper-personalized, increasingly fractured, digital world.
Another big part of being recognized as a distinctive, successful brand is the ability to reach consumers through multiple channels.
Obviously, larger entertainers have an advantage gaining exposure because they usually have a bigger marketing budget and more existing connections. They can pay for television commercials, be featured in globally-recognized magazines, and rank highly in search engine results pages.
However, the Internet and social media have narrowed the gap between small companies and large ones. There are more tools than ever before which offer any company a chance at establishing their brand. You just have to work tirelessly at it.
Knows her brand
Despite Taylor Swift’s presence in almost every conceivable social media and music channel, she determined that some channels simply do not add value to her brand. In fact, she has implicitly discovered where her brand is being devalued and has managed it accordingly like any good brand manager does.
In the content-is-advertising era, this is a valuable lesson for digital marketers. We are creating short films, original music, webisode series, mobile games, and countless other forms of online entertainment surrounding our brands.
Great content, like our core products, is valuable, and we should consider how to amplify that value in our digital marketing.
Maintaining mystery in her brand
One thing Taylor Swift understands and consistently delivers on is maintaining the magic and the mystery in her brand. She knows that audiences today are motivated by the “surprise” in the relationship, as she puts it.
But she also doesn’t show too much. She still keeps an air of mystery about her and maintains aspects of her strategy, career, behind the curtain and achieving a balance for her brand.
Show lots of passion
While it’s certainly possible to build a brand in the short-term without passion, it’s almost impossible to sustain it in the long run. When you examine massively successful people like Taylor Swift, they all have a serious passion that keeps propelling them to work hard and continually deliver greatness. That passion leads to enthusiasm and genuine joy, which is infectious.
Tell great stories
Good stories immediately focus on engagement, experiences, and emotion … central tenets that are attractive to most customers. The narrative makes your message relevant and memorable through personalization.
Stories are a great means of sharing and interpreting experiences, and great experiences have this innate ability to change the way in which we view our world.
Says “no” when her brand is devalued
It’s been difficult to escape news of Swift’s decision to remove her music from Spotify. As one of the largest music streaming offerings (and streaming being one of the only music channels to show signs of growth), her decision has sent shockwaves through the industry.
But as Swift explained in her op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal about the future of music (well ahead of her Spotify move), she says, “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.”
Despite Swift’s dominance in almost every conceivable social media and music channel, she determined that some channels simply do not add value to her brand.
In fact, she has implicitly discovered where her brand is being devalued and has managed it accordingly like any good brand manager does. In the content-is-advertising era, this is a valuable lesson for digital marketers.
Her product is inspirational and unexpected
Swift has come a long way since “Teardrops On My Guitar” from her 2006 debut album. But she has consistently inspired her fans in unexpected ways. With “1989” she made many decisions, most of which were against the advice of her record label.
She started with a record cover that masked half her face — only showing her mouth and chin, understanding explicitly the mystery that it brought to the new record. With “Shake It Off,” the lead single from “1989,” Swift played on the conventions of music videos, playing the awkward “dork” in the midst of the trendy dance styles, and then brought in a group of fans to dance at the end of the video.
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A master at maintaining magic and mystery
One thing Swift understands and consistently delivers on is maintaining the magic and the mystery in her brand. She knows that audiences today are motivated by the “surprise” in the relationship, as she puts it.
Swift says: “In the YouTube generation we live in, I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online. My generation was raised being able to flip channels if we got bored, and we read the last page of the book when we got impatient. We want to be caught off guard, delighted, left in awe.”
How are you bringing surprises into your brand relationship with your fans? What do you need to do to make your digital marketing fresh, new and interesting to your audience today — a tonal shift on social, a new surprising piece of video content, an unexpected fan contest? Make it magical and inspire your audience.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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