Built to Last: The Grateful Dead Marketing Engine
If you take away the internet, social media, websites and the like youll see that The Grateful Dead were adept with the one thing we all strive for today creating a strong connection with their customers. The Grateful Dead were most definitely innovators in the music world. They had fans flocking to their music and the dead head lifestyle in droves. They followed their own path in making money from concerts instead of albums like most bands of their time, they allowed fans to record those concerts and trade those tapes freely, they let the parking lot of the concerts be almost as much of an experience as seeing the show itself, they cut out the middle man and sold tickets directly to fans, they made sure to treat long-time fans in a special way and they we always open to experimentation not only in their music... If you look at The Deads marketing style its not too different from what were working towards today
They offered their content at a freemuim. Allowing concert goers to tape and trade shows is not all that much different from letting yours customers in on the information. Providing useful information that customers can use and easily access will attract people to your site its as simple as that. If you give away your content, you will win through familiarity and trust.
They have a remarkable product. Obviously The Grateful Deads fusion of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country and jazz stood out in a time when The Beatles and The Stones ruled the airwaves. It used to be that companies could muscle their way into being known with advertising but now instead of focusing solely advertising companies are taking a more grassroots marketing approach and in order to stand out your company or product must be remarkable and willing to show off.
They created their own path. Every company (or band for that matter) can say they have competitors but would you want to be the same as them? No, its nice to look and see what theyre doing but stick to your own path. The Dead made money in a way that no other band did at the time through concert ticket sales. They saw that other bands used concerts as a way to promote albums, but with their own jam band style, they were able to attract bigger crowds (and make more money) by going about it differently. They were ok with losing control. Think about the parking lot of a Dead show, it captures the essence of the band right? Well that developed in an area that the band had no control over. Once they had fans, the fans were happy to tout their message. Your employees can do the same - dont be afraid to let them talk. If they work for the company, they should believe in the product and may speak the way management dictates but could be better ambassadors then youd realize. They werent afraid to experiment. Yes, you can take this as it sounds but the Dead also did a lot of their experimentation on stage. They were an original American jam band so of course they were improving and trying new things on stage, in front of all of their fans. Having a plan is great, dont get me wrong, I wouldnt expect any company to just wing it on any aspect of their business but a plan is only good as a shell. It has to take into account that the real world happens and has to be reacted to. They put long-time fans in the front row. The Dead made sure to treat faithful Deadheads to extras such as special seating. A lot of companies offer deals to new customers but forget about the people that have been keeping the lights on. Make sure to offer deals for current customers if youre also offering them to new ones. They cut out the middleman. The Grateful Dead handled their own ticket sales. They had fans send them money and would send back tickets, eliminating the upcharge from venues and ticket brokers. Not only did this simplify the process for fans but it also put them directly in touch with some of their favorite people. Your customers want to hear from you whether its company news, customer service, sales, etc. They look to communicate with the company they work with for information or to put their mind at ease. One other thing I learned Jerry Garcia was missing most of his right middle finger. Apparently, his older brother chopped it off with an axe while they were chopping wood. Gross. While their technique may have went against the grain at the time, the effect was dead on. In essence, The Dead created a community and can now be looked to by businesses to learn what to do to create a self-perpetuating marketing engine.