Many marketers would kill to have Lady Gaga as their product to sell versus having to sell toilet paper or laundry detergent ( or telecom products)....But, I believe it is Lady Gaga’s ability to remain singularly focused on maintaining her fan base that has made her as successful as she is today.
I’m a big fan of Lady Gaga. I’ve seen her perform 4 times. I’ve uploaded 12 or 13 videos of those shows to YouTube. My iTunes playlists are filled with her songs. My Lady Gaga channel on Pandora gets more listens than the other 29 channels.
I wouldn’t recognize one of her songs if I heard it. I’ve never been to her shows. I have no Lady Gaga channels on Pandora nor have her songs snuck into one of my stations on Pandora. I had no idea the song “Born This Way” was her song.
However, I am a big fan of Jackie Huba and her work extolling, reporting and case-studying customer loyalty, customer evangelists and word-of-mouth. I’ve been a big fan for, OMG, nearly 10 years. She came to my attention in late 2003 when she co-authored with Ben McConnell Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force ...and articulated that solution, create customer evangelists, for me just when all else had failed. I stayed a fan as she continued posting at Church of the Customer.
Jackie is a big fan of Gaga’s music and a big a fan of Gaga’s business savvy since 2010. That's important. During the past 3 years, she's studied Gaga's success and compiled her insights as both a fan of her music and her business practices and shared them with us in Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics. Her book translates Gaga’s world and her huge success into strategies and tactics that every business leader can use, regardless of their industry.
Consider Gaga’s success: 23 million albums sold, 64 million singles sold, five Grammy Awards, 13 MTV music video awards. Forbes named her the world’s most powerful celebrity, ahead of...OPRAH.
When you look at those numbers, maybe you figure Gaga has some huge, psychic braintrust of marketers and number-crunchers and ad buyers. Maybe. But then a lot of companies have those and their growth and influence remain a few french fries short of a happy meal. Again, enter Jackie and her book to translate Gaga’s success into 7 distinct steps. Any. Business. Can Use.
True confession: Writing this review turned into a bigger challenge than I predicted. It’s not what to say that challenged me. It’s what NOT to say. I start reading and within 3-4 paragraphs, I’m nodding my head and saying Yes, yes, exactly. Bam. Bam, baby. Yeah, come on. Can I get a witness. Then I want to share verbatim Jackie’s translation of Gaga’s strategy. Here’s why. It’s a strategy with 7 steps that any, ANY, business can execute under its own terms and under its own budget no matter how small or large. Granted, I enjoy reading this strategy as it’s applied to Gaga. And Jackie's a good writer. But, what's really inspiring is understanding how even a car wash could apply this strategy with these 7 steps and find success. You could build a global empire selling gardening mulch if you followed these 7 steps. And you could lower your advertising and marketing budgets, to boot.
Here’s the first step: Focus On Your One-Percenters. Forget the Pareto, 80/20 rule. That’s right. Focus on your hard core customers, your most ardent defenders. Gaga does. She has no fans. That’s right. She has no superfans, either. What she has are...Little Monsters. Those are her true, hard-core, live and die and live and breathe Gaga, fans. Jackie describes the very personal, dedicated, attention Gaga gives her Little Monsters and has given them from the beginning. And...she details how Gaga’s Little Monsters return their thanks with testimonials, raves, reviews, album sales, singles’ sales, and concert attendance.
Now. You don’t have time to focus on your One-Percenters, your Little Monsters. I say, Cool. I understand. That means you have plenty of time to complain about the resulting lack of sales and growth. That’s the choice, not because Jackie’s book says so or Gaga’s success says so. No, the data says so: Look at your own data. How much more money are you spending now to close one new customer? Look at the data for how ineffective advertising and marketing has become now that they've inundated us with images and messages to the point where we've evolve screening mechanisms to ignore them. Consider how much more effective is one good fan and one great testimonial or rave.
One of my favorite points in Jackie’s book is how diligently she shows Gaga’s success is not based on gimmicks. ‘Little Monsters’ and outfits made with raw meat and burning pianos at the end of her performances are not the core of her success. ( Neither was destroying their instruments at the end of every show the key to The Who’s enduring success, course it woulda helped if they'd backed off the recreational supplements, too.) The core is Gaga's very talented musicianship and her very business-savvy approach to her fans coupled with a passionate desire to change the world.
It’s an often-overlooked point in creating communities of evangelistic customers generating massive amounts of word-of-mouth. Too often, you hear of companies who want a quick fix. Gimme a video that goes viral or a cute and clever ad campaign that makes people laugh. And they do, first at the ad then at the product being sold.
Gaga’s a classically trained musician. She ate shit for years performing in small-venue dives, night after night, writing tunes, helping other artists, barely surviving. All that practice, work, setbacks and lessons-learned, honed her writing and performing. It also honed her compassion for others born different and that if you have a dream you should not stop until you reach it. - Monster Loyalty, Introduction.
That’s the dream...of everyone. But, for this audience, it’s the dream of every business leader and manager and employee and even unpaid intern. They, we, you, all dream the same dream: starting a business, growing it, seeing it survive and then thrive, changing people’s lives for the better, helping our families, bringing meaning to our days, yeah and making a little money along the way. Gaga shows how she did it in the very tough music business. Jackie translated Gaga’s work into a plan you can use. Right now. Today. And tomorrow. Go get her book, Monster Loyalty. Read it, own it. Then find your one percenters. Then follow the other 6 steps. Be successful. Be happy. Don’t stop until you reach your dream. As you do, give Jackie a shout, a testimonial, a book purchase, a speaking gig, for her work researching and translating Gaga's success and the success of others into a plan you can apply. Right now. Right now.