Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead, Book Review

- August 16, 2010

“Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead” is an engaging, quick read that sheds light on the phenomenal success the Grateful Dead achieved on a number of levels. Written by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan, this out of the box treatise focuses on the brilliance of the music itself, the Deadhead community and the unprecedented bond they created with their fans.

The book pinpoints several themes that are similarly noteworthy attributes for businesses in today’s competitive environment and thereby sage accomplishments given that they occurred three and four decades ago by the band.

Lessons include:

  • Take extraordinary steps to connect with your customers….The Grateful Dead sold tickets to fans through their own ticketing service, thereby greatly reducing the second hand ticket market and ensuring that premium seats went directly to their dedicated fans at face value. What incentive can you give your most loyal customers?
  • Give away content for free and encourage others to share it. Check out: Internet Archive’s Grateful Dead Collection for 3500 plus audience recordings. The philosophy of allowing everyone to enjoy the music (free of charge) was the precursor to today’s endless stream of free webinars on every imaginable subject.  This tactic was instrumental to the Dead’s viral growth as it left people wanting more, more, more and dropping whatever was on their plate to see the band the next time they came through town. In similar fashion, companies who are willing to give before they take stand a much better chance of developing credibility today.
  • Invest in your product…. “Rolled out for the first time in 1974, the Wall of Sound took eight years of experimentation (and) $350,000 to create.” “It was so far ahead of any other rock band’s concert sound system, it catapulted the Grateful Dead into a different music-technology solar system.” What can your business do that is unique and will prove to be a valuable differentiator?

The book is available through Amazon.

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