Amy Stern - 01/29/2024
From keeping things authentic to engaging target audiences, there are valuable marketing lessons to be learned from Taylor Swift and her record-breaking tour.
Taylor Swift has been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year, her Eras Tour was the first to gross over $1 billion, and her relationship with Travis Kelce has dominated the football season headlines. Whether you love her music or not, Taylor has mastered one of key tenets of marketing: know your audience. So, what can businesses learn from America’s #1 pop music “It” girl? Read this blog for five lessons taken straight from “Tay.”
Keep it Authentic
One of the things that is at the heart of Taylor Swift’s connection to her fans and that has continued to grow her fan base is her authenticity. From the lyrics of her songs to the sound bites she delivers in media interviews to her comments on social media, Taylor shares her humanity – joy, sadness, relatable experiences from boyfriend breakups to good times with friends and family, snippets of her travels and embraces with her beloved cat. From her earliest days as a singer/songwriter, she has projected a persona that teens could relate to and as she’s matured, she has not strayed from that persona. This has allowed her to keep her original fans as they have evolved and matured, but also expand her appeal to their parents and on the flipside helped her become increasingly popular with pre-teens, as well.
Taylor has and continues to “keep it real” for her fans. They feel they know her, and she knows them. This includes forging connections well beyond the over-packed stadiums during her live concerts to hosting more intimate gatherings on Instagram and Tumblr that provide up-close and personal moments with a mega star who in most cases would seem untouchable. Her willingness to let fans into her inner sanctum includes gifting select fans with mementos, inviting them to sing with her on stage and offering private meet and greets with fans.
In addition to being true to herself, something that lends a predictability to her brand, she’s well aware that any potential affiliations or partnerships could damage that brand and in a heartbeat dissolve all that she’s worked so hard to achieve. Take a look at her friend circle, from Blake Lively to Selena Gomez and other celebrities, she keeps her circle tight and she’s loyal and they repay the favor. One can anticipate that any new relationships she fosters are with like-minded folks whose public image is likely to be similar to hers, void of controversy and relatively squeaky clean. Her personal connections reflect gratitude for those who are there for her and as a result, she’s there for them – rewarding those associated with her Eras Tour production with generous bonuses in the millions of dollars.
Assert Control Over Your Assets
Early on Taylor advocated for control over her intellectual property. When she realized that Spotify was sharing her music for free, she didn’t cower to the powerhouse streaming service. On the contrary, Taylor took Spotify to court and removed her songs from the platform. She recently re-recorded her first six albums, re-naming them “Taylor’s Version,” something that resulted in her fans updating their playlists in support of their beloved artist. The result—streaming of the new versions exceeded those of the original recordings.
Last year, Taylor’s Eras Tour ticket sales broke the Ticketmaster website which led to a class-action suit against Ticketmaster for antitrust violations and a Senate hearing to further investigate the matter. She supported her fans as they pushed for more transparency regarding concert ticket sales, alleging Ticketmaster and its parent company imposed higher prices on fans in the presale, sale and resale market and keeping the fees to themselves.
One of Taylor’s hallmarks when it comes to marketing is to handle many of the elements in-house. She said, “I’ve done this specifically to improve the quality of my fans’ experience by doing it myself with my team who care as much about my fans as I do.” Another example of this was her initiative to market her Eras Tour movie directly to AMC Theaters, thus bypassing the Hollywood studios who would have taken a cut of the singer’s and theater profits. With each initiative she ingratiated herself to her fans even more.
We have seen how successful brands can often jump at partnership opportunities and affiliations, especially when these co-branding opportunities come with huge financial rewards. But at the same time, one doesn’t need to look too far for celebrities who over-extended their co-branding opportunities to areas that diluted their brand and didn’t connect with their core demographic. Perhaps one of the most notorious brand affiliations was that of Adidas and Kanye West which caused the sneaker brand to ultimately pull product from the market, lose money and perhaps more damaging, lose face with some of its customers. There are many other examples of this including Paula Deen who was dropped by Food Network for her racially charged remarks. On the contrary, Taylor has been very careful to protect her brand and so far, her cautious actions have ensured her brand integrity not only remains intact, but is stronger than ever.
Engage with Your Target Demographic at Every Touchpoint
If we’ve learned anything from social media, it’s that brands and thought leaders need to engage with their target audiences where they are – whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or elsewhere, having meaningful conversations with potential customers, brand ambassadors and beyond. In other words, you need to be in it to win it. Taylor’s songs are stories in themselves, her primary medium for sharing the narrative of the ups and downs of her life. Yet, she’s become the master of continuing the conversation elsewhere across social media, in person and even in the media interviews she’s granted. Her ability to connect and engage with her audience has spawned a host of promotional products from paper dolls and coloring books to branded apparel, a coffee table book devoted to her fashion sense, and more.
One thing is for sure, Taylor is everywhere. So how can you elevate your brand and corporate thought leaders to achieve the same? Checkout my blog How to Be Sure Your Corporate News Resonates With the Media for some insights into how you can make headlines.
Create- Refresh -Repeat
Taylor started as a country singer when her career first began in Nashville, but over time she’s shown that she is multi-talented with her music crossing over into pop. She’s also realized the power of delivering that creativity in a multitude of ways from Live concerts to film to books and exclusive content offerings for super fans.
Businesses can take a cue from this especially when it comes to social media and website content. The inability to create and refresh these platforms leaves loyal followers with nothing new to engage with and so over time the value of these relationships is lost, as followers drop off in search of more exciting and engaging content. If your content and social media need a boost to garner visibility, perhaps it’s time to consider a social media audit and up your game.
As you continue to plan for 2024, what marketing strategies will you employ to elevate your brand to Superstar status? Need some ideas? Reach out to me at Astern@3epr.com and let’s schedule time to talk about it.