Beyoncé’s non-marketing of her album reminds me of when I heard Guy Kawasaki provide tips for an effective presentation. One of the tips was having a limited number of slides for the sake of succinct communication. At the time, Kawasaki had several more slides in his presentation speech than he suggested and he noted that some people would say, “But Guy, you have more slides than you’re recommending.” In which he stated, “You are not me.” (Say this slowly and emphasize each word. Capisce?)
No marketing? Gasp! Let’s face it, like Guy – Beyoncé is…Beyoncé.
She has earned the opportunity to drop her album sans promotion. Exactly how she wanted. Before the digital age, TV and radio, when someone had a new song, they likely got up on stage and sang the song. So perhaps Beyoncé just went super, ultra old school as an artist and just let her songs sing in a day and age where privacy and surprises can be at a minimum. Who knows!
As an agency that offers marketing services, of course we’re going to say that marketing is still important because, well, it is. But there are some other important lessons here that we can draw from this Queen Bey experience that can be applied to everyday business:
Roll With Those Who Can Keep a Secret. Beyoncé had collaborators on her album and you didn’t hear anything from them. Yes, her husband Jay-Z would be expected to lay low if his wife wanted him to, but her former songstress sisters from Destiny’s Child, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams are also on the album, plus Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake, Drake, Timbaland and Frank Ocean. Phew!
There were also behind-the-scenes players including producers, sound techs, PR team (that didn’t book interviews prior but are definitely releasing info post album drop), etc. and each of these individuals come with their own clout and their own audiences. None of them told you (or us!) Beyoncé just sang this song that would be on her album, etc. etc., but they were singing right along beside her (on the new album) and supported her when she decided to launch.
Having a network of people whom you can share your ideas with, collaborate with, etc. is beneficial. In business you want individuals who will support your decision to ‘make things happen’ on your time. You know the ins/outs of your business, goals and desired outcomes, so you need to have those who will respect your process; and when you’re ready – they are there to support you.
Put In the Work & Connect With Your Customers. Beyoncé did and has always connected with her fan/customer base, which was built over time via concert tours, extensive marketing, promotion, public relations and more. She was able to drop the album the way she did because of her talent and skills (after all, people want to hear her sing and entertain), but also because she put in the work to connect with her customers. She’s on social media, she’s sharing videos, she’s using various communication tools to engage and connect with her customers, and we all know that this takes work. If you want to find out what your customer’s needs are, what is working, and attract new customers – you have to be willing to put in the work continuously.
Try Something Different & Know When to Experiment. In interviews when Beyoncé was asked why she decide to give us all an early digital Christmas gift without any warning, one of the things she shared was that she was bored with the now traditional process of releasing music and heavy pre-promotion. She just wanted to try something different. Different included a full digital album, plus videos and a digital book. Surprise!
It’s good to shake things up every once in awhile. It keeps the creative juices flowing and prevents one from becoming stagnant.
This year we’re encouraging some of our clients to map out a time this year where they will do something positively different – something that stretches them or perhaps makes them a little uncomfortable. Even if it’s the complete opposite of what they’ve traditionally done. We’ve told them that they can try it out for a few weeks (at least three) and if they don’t like it, they can always go back to how things have been done.
Beyoncé has become a household name and well, she can afford to make some mistakes, experiment and explore on occasion. She might be boring if she didn’t – yes, I know, hard to imagine, but it’s true. She has never dropped a full digital album, in the middle of the night sans promotion before. There’s a chance people could be upset because they didn’t know about it beforehand, because media didn’t get an exclusive preview, etc. etc. People can be funny like that as we all know, so there was some risk. However, if she didn’t try it, she would never know. Plain and simple.
If you’re really comfortable right now, you can afford to try something different. It would be a waste of an opportunity to keep doing the same thing over and over when you have other positive, viable options that might be equally good and/or better. When you try something different, you can also eliminate regret. Being in business is a risk as is, try not to ever get tired of flying, scared of falling or comfortable not seeing other places. You’ve got wings, use them!
Know That People Are Going to Talk. When you try something different, be prepared and know that people are going to talk. Hopefully it’s all positive, but sometimes it’s not. Also, when it’s cool and different and happens in the middle of the night – there’s likely to be all kinds of speculation. Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? As in ‘how did I not know about this?!? Hhhhhoooowww??!??!’ As long as you’re prepared to deal with the excitement, question’s, c’onfusion, etc. – it’s OK.
Just know that no matter what you do, people are going to talk. Just like we’re talking about it now! First it’s the cool, non-marketing drop of an album, and now for the critique of the music. It’s just endless, right? Whatever you do in business, go in knowing you did your best and handled things the way you wanted to because regardless, people are going to talk.
Be True to Yourself. This lyric sang by Beyoncé has been quoted several times this past week: “I’m a grown woman / I can do whatever I want.” We hear you, lady! When she dropped her album unexpectedly, everyone believed she was a grown woman doing what she wanted. There’s something empowering about that when it’s positive and isn’t hurting anybody, right? When you’re operating in your business you’ll hear business owners and successful career executives say repeatedly, “be true to yourself.” When you’re remaining true to yourself and doing what feels right, it’s often difficult to fail.
People Still Like Surprises. People were waiting for Beyoncé’s new album, wondering when, where, and then ‘Surprise!’ she launched it on iTunes. With all of the instantaneousness of social media, surprises can be few and far between nowadays. So many people were probably just genuinely delighted to be surprised as people on the Internet went bananas. In your business, don’t shy away from incorporating the element of surprise. And note: surprise does not mean disorganized or scary, as a good surprise should be a happy experience!
Do you have any additional business lessons to add from the Beyoncé experience? What ways will you add the element of surprise in your business and/or marketing efforts? Tell us in the comments below! And as always, reach out to us if we may be of service or you just want to say ‘hi!’