We’ve heard the concept from Chris Anderson, in his book Free. If you want to ultimately make more money and win more fans you first have to give away a lot of stuff. That’s right, give it away. Like we all do in the social media space.
Anderson made a reference to the Grateful Dead, one of the only bands that allowed fans to record concerts and make their own bootlegged tapes. In fact they practically encouraged it. Why? It was simply a way to deliver greater service to the only constituency that mattered to the Dead. Who cared if it cut into album sales? It won the hearts of millions, generated greater attendance at live performances and a produced a community of self-proclaimed Dead Heads.
Other influential sources, including the Atlantic, have referred to the Dead’s “management secrets.” In an article published just this March, Joshua Green wrote, “The Dead’s influence on the business world may turn out to be a significant part of its legacy. Without intending to—while intending, in fact, to do just the opposite—the band pioneered ideas and practices that were subsequently embraced by corporate America.” Here, too, Green refers to the Dead’s novel idea of focusing on its most loyal fans.”
Well, it may not be a new story, but it’s finally a new book. Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead. Leave it to my two friends Brian Halligan and David Meerman Scott, pioneers of inbound marketing, to take the case a step further and remind us that it was this legendary band that helped invent modern marketing and social media. A press release issued this morning states that, “For years the band broke almost every rule in the music industry book and profited as a result.”
In fact the band used the very techniques we are all learning to master now in order to differentiate itself from the all those other bands that emphasized record sales instead of fan satisfaction.
In the book’s foreward, the ultimate Dead Head of all time, former basketball great Bill Walton asks, “Who would have ever thought that it would be the Dead’s business and marketing models that would today be the envy of the culture they all fought so hard to change.”
I’ve seen the authors’ deck on the subject and read a previous blog post, but my advance copy won’t be here for another week. So whether the topic merits an entire book is a question I can’t answer. But as Brian says in the press release, “it’s a concept that really resonates with people.” How can it not?
If the book is half as cool as the cover, it will be the next social media classic. Congrats Brian and David on getting it done.
Note: Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead will be available in August, 2010.