It’s not often, well, ever actually, that I comment on the actions of a mega-pop star. But the release of Beyonce’s latest album is marketing genius. The element of surprise keeping the production completely under wraps. And then showing up at Walmart in Brooklyn at the height of holiday shopping and announcing on the microphone that she was paying for everyone’s first $50 purchase. Releasing it directly through iTunes. Brilliant.
But the most stunning thing to me is to see an artist embrace the changing form of her art and working it, baby. Let’s face it. The music industry has been tanked. The popularity of downloaded and streamed music makes it almost impossible to make money on record sales. Personally I haven’t spent a dime on a music purchase in more years than I can remember. You? But putting out an “album” with 17 videos and 14 songs? Freaking genius. THAT gets my attention. Instead of complaining about the way it “used to be”, Beyonce has fully embraced this multi-media, short attention span, marketing noisy world we live in and bust it wide open and got everyone’s attention. To say nothing of being smart enough to use her best “assets” in the videos.
What can small businesses and marketers learn from this? First and foremost, you can’t survive if you spend any time complaining about how it “used to be”. Yeah, it used to be easier to get clients. It used to be easier to make a buck. It was nice when we didn’t have to worry about people infringing on copyrights. Blah, blah, blah. There are always incredible opportunities to be innovative and use what’s current and available right now.
Secondly, was the element of surprise and use of social media. Including the news which is nothing more than Facebook live. Seems to me her team spent next to nothing on marketing (except for the few thousands dollars on Walmart gift cards). What’s always striking to me is how many small businesses don’t realize how LITTLE you can spend on marketing today. In my business, I spend less than 1% annual gross on marketing. Most of what works today–social media, relationship building, offering free content– cost nearly nothing.
Observe what’s going on around you. Take notice of how other companies and artists are marketing themselves. They have more money to spend and ability to take risks. Learn from them. Well played, Beyonce!