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4 Marketing Lessons to Learn from Taylor Swift

This past week I had the incredible opportunity to take my 9 year old daughter to her first concert to see Taylor Swift in her Reputation Stadium Tour. The experience was remarkable -- the pageantry, the choreography, the music! From the moment Taylor stepped onto stage in silhouette, larger than life, to her final bow, thanking each member of her band and dance crew, the adventure was a forever memory that will live with every person in attendance.

Besides the catchy tunes, the mesmerizing light show, and the pyrotechnics, I walked away from the concert thinking deeply about Taylor Swift and how she has transformed herself into a pop powerhouse over the past decade. The Taylor Swift brand could teach all of us a few lessons in marketing longevity and success, and here are a few of them.

Taylor Swift isn’t afraid to pivot

From a doe-eyed, bouncy-haired country crooner out of Wyomissing, PA, few could have imagined the level of stardom that Taylor Swift would one day achieve. She began her career as a singer-songwriter in the country music scene when was just a teen, but over time she built upon that success, entering a genre with broader appeal, pop music. Since then, and with her latest album, she’s even started dabbling with an edgier side.

The takeaway here is that Taylor has not allowed herself to be pigeon-holed. She has pivoted and embraced change where it furthers her need to grow. While her roots may still be in country music, at the end of the day she is a musical storyteller, and she has adapted that skill as necessary to continue to reach a wider audience. In so doing, she’s achieved incredible success.

She connects with her customers (fans)

One of the most touching moments during the concert, came later in the set list when Taylor mentioned the reason for the wrist bands everyone had received at check-in. They contained LED lights that changed color and were synced with the light show happening on stage. It made each member of the audience an interactive participant in the show. Taylor said the reason for the bands was twofold. They looked beautiful, a sea of stars twinkling across the stadium, but even more than that, she incorporated the wrist bands into her show because she wanted to see each and every one of us -- her fans -- even those in the very last row. It was not lost on her the effort so many people had made to come see her, and she felt the need to be connected to each of us. And it doesn’t stop there. She has a remarkable social media presence (hello! 110 million followers on Instagram alone) where she posts everything from funny videos of her cat to behind the scenes jam sessions.

From a marketing standpoint, knowing your customers (or in Taylor’s case her fans) and connecting with them regularly only helps you build better products or services. The more in tune you are with them, the better you can serve them.

She protects her brand and image

Taylor Swift has been a huge advocate for artists being fairly compensated for the art they create. Back in 2014 she made the bold move to pull her music from the popular streaming service Spotify, citing the very real fact that streaming services were paying much larger percentages to the record labels than to the artists themselves, which, in her view, only continued to devalue the very important role the musician plays. Since then Taylor’s music is now available for streaming (it’s complicated, but you can read more about the evolution of that decision here), but she has continued to be a huge advocate for her brand and the role of the artist in today’s transitioning music scene. Furthermore, when she has been mocked or criticized for being flighty or goofy or dating too many people, Taylor has owned it, turning the criticism on its head and making it part of her quirky, self-deprecating image.

The marketing lesson here is to fiercely own your differentiators and know what your worth is. Don’t allow vendors or prospects to devalue your brand. You will only play catch up if that is the case. In addition, embrace the things that make you stand apart, even if they are viewed by competitors as weaknesses. Are you a new player in your industry and therefore viewed as inexperienced? Turn that on its head, and showcase how being new means you have a fresh perspective. Detractors can actually be used to help build your case for you.

She always delights

Taylor Swift is certainly a savvy business woman who has made a lot of smart decisions in her career, but at the end of the day she has a product to sell, her music, and she makes sure her product delights her audience. Her lyrics are relatable, her tunes are catchy, and her performances are memorable. This is the core of her business.

As you think about marketing your products or services, never lose sight of delighting your audience. Listen to your customers’ feedback and make sure that the experience they have with you makes them want to come back for more. This is how a rock star business grows!

Whether you love Taylor, hate her, or are just indifferent, she certainly has insight to bestow on other entrepreneurs. If you would like a free marketing consult to see how your marketing strategy could be overhauled to take your business to the next level, complete the consult request form here.

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