Create a new category of business that works for YOU
Most bands of the period focused on selling albums to make their money. The Dead went the opposite way. They decided to make their money on their live show and toured almost all year round. Go against the norm -Carve out your own niche market.
Cut out your middleman
Rather than selling tickets through Ticketmaster, they simply sold the tickets directly to their fans. Deal direct with your customers.
Let your customers spread your brand (much easier now using social media)
Decades before Napster, the Dead grasped the value of peer to peer sharing. Unlike other bands at the time, the Dead didn’t try and stop people from bootlegging their live shows. Microphone stands were a regular sight at their concerts. Encourage your customers to spread your name, and your content.
Get a cool brand name
The band decided to get away from its original generic name The Warlocks – and renamed themselves the Grateful Dead to be unique and memorable. When you select an uncommon name, it’s unlikely that consumer will confuse your product with something similar. They will remember you. (I bet Jerry would think 95 North is a cool name for a marketing company….don’t you? )
Become a “platform” for other businesses
If you have a very successful product like the Grateful Dead had, it’s easy to open it up to others to build off your success. Case in point, the parking lots at Dead shows became a traveling ecosystem of businesses – from veggie burritos to handmade jewelry to magic mushrooms. Don’t be afraid to partner with businesses and allow them to grow WITH your brand and products.
Communicate directly with your customers
The Dead were one of the first to have their own nationwide mailing list that connected them directly with their fans. Decades later, they were one of the early adopters of email. It’s now easier than ever to communicate with customers – so start doing it today!
Use technology to gain an edge
Rather than rely on what was available, the band built their own concert rig which traveled with them wherever they went. No explanation needed.
Hire a “community” manager to make your customers love you
In 1968 the Dead hired a fan, Scott Brown, to help them manage their community. Way before Facebook and Twitter, the manager shared small, personal details with their Fan Club. The band also responded directly to personal messages and shared user generated content like artwork with the larger community through their mailing list. Hire social media “fire-starter” or groom an enthusiastic salesperson to spread your company name.
Almost 50 years after their start, The Dead is still proving that being unique and doing what comes naturally is the best way to build a following for your business.
Excerpt adapted from article in Business Insider
Buy the book: Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead:
by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan