5 genius marketing bombs & lessons by Taylor Swift (even if you don’t like her)

5 genius marketing bombs & lessons by Taylor Swift (even if you don’t like her)

I love the Taylor Swift marketing machine (but don't like her music.)

Here are 5 things that modern business, especially marketers, can learn from the songstress.

1. Taylor is real

This girl-next-door persona is a combination of sweet-girl charisma and accessible. For fans, Swift feels close. This closeness, a feeling of kinship, feeds intimate fan engagement. Make up on or off, Taylor will present herself in all kinds of scenarios. With her cats. Baking a cake. At glamorous parties. It’s every girl’s dream and it feels real.

For fans, Swift is within reach, creating a brand persona of being accessible and relatable. 

How to apply in the business world?

Take your customers behind-the-scenes. Your business is run by real people with real experiences. Humanise your storytelling. Social media is a wonderful vehicle for this. Think parties, staff achievements and celebrations – and broadcast these moments on the appropriate platform.

2. Taylor is media

With over 271 million fans across multiple platforms, Swift is media. (Counted at the time of writing: Twitter 82+ million, Facebook 74+ million, YouTube 20+ million and Instagram 95+ million.)

Taylor Swift commands audience numbers that would make Rupert Murdoch sing. 

How to apply in the business world?

No longer relying on paid traditional media to broadcast their message, modern brands are becoming their own media. Brands of the future are activating this opportunity. Among the best brands in the world, Apple, Harley Davidson and Nike are media.

Swift has achieved the same.

As Gary Vaynerchuk will tell you, attention is the asset. If you want your business to be seen and heard, go where the attention is. Pay attention to where the attention flows. For example, more than 40 percent of the United States population from ages 18 to 34 use the Snapchat app, and more than half of all new users in the country are older than 25, according to the company.

Follow the attention. And tell your story.

Welcome to Swiftland - marketing powerhouse

Welcome to Swiftland - marketing powerhouse

3. Taylor engages and gives

The pop star knows her customers. She loves them. And her customers return with adoration.

Before the 1989 album, Swift personally invited 89 fans to her home for a pre-listen party.

During Christmas 2014, the Swift team delivered personalised gifts to fans. Coined Swiftmas, the fans recorded the present experience on YouTube. 

Writing for Enrepeneur, Kelly Lovell describes this unique relationship, "they join an inner circle of like-minded peers who share in a unique experience they can always look back on."

So what happens when a fan is rewarded for loyalty? They double down in their affection. It’s a masterclass in retention marketing.

How to apply in the business world?

There are two lessons here.

The first is the surprise of paying it forward, by giving back to (loyal) customers. Not just with a impersonal loyalty scheme and stickers on a card. Make it individual, memorable, exclusive and personal. Dazzle your customers with the Swift-like inner circle treatment.

The second is that each Swift experience has been recorded and broadcast through social media. This mobilises the message, portrays the goodness of the experience and reinforces the Swift brand. Business can do the same.

4. Taylor uses fear

FOMO, the fear of missing out is a timeless marketing principle described well by Robert Cialdini’s principles of persuasion.

In the Swift world, the fear tactic was played well with the release of the 1989 album, with limited release photos and fan messages. The result was one of the fastest selling records of the last decade. 

Fear and persuasion in the Swift world

Fear and persuasion in the Swift world

5. Taylor uses content exclusivity

Content on Instagram is different and exclusive to Snapchat and vice versa. Each medium plays to a different audience.

The release of the single Shake It Off was streamed live on Yahoo.

Before the release of 1989, clues were released to fans out on Instagram only. 

Swiftmas was exclusive to YouTube.

How to apply in the business world?

There are differences between the demographics and users between media. Just as there is a difference between Triple M and talk back AM listeners, there are differences between social media platforms. 

Make content specific and exclusive to each platform. 

Don’t spray and pray across the same platforms, because it doesn’t work. 

In summary

While Taylor Swift has effectively marketed her music to many demographics, it's in the arena of the millennial market where most has been achieved. 

Through a carefully constructed brand persona and finely executed media, Swift has rallied a strong community of support. This pop star provides a useful template for customer connection and effective marketing. 



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