Like the rest of America, my morning routine of snoozing all of my iPhone’s alarms were abruptly interrupted by news that Beyoncé had released a surprise album along with seventeen visual experiences. (Free + Legal: Watch a little bit of each video here.) The beginning of my thoughts were ones of confusion, I was sure that people were only pre-ordering what I thought was an album that would be released in the weeks to come. But much to my surprise, upon logging into iTunes, the album was readily available for downloading, listening, and watching. Wow, I thought, what a genius and confidently executed marketing strategy. One that makes total sense to a Business student like myself. So, I began reading tons of articles on the web by huge media outlets who also were uninformed and unprepped by this huge and sudden occurrence that even caused iTunes to crash. Given her reputation and influential power, there is no question that she could pull this off seamlessly, but what if brands + artists took note of the marketing decisions Beyoncé and her team used and implemented them in their own plans of action. Here are a 5 Branding + Marketing Lessons Learned From Beyoncé’s Surprise Album that we can all use to better execute our own personal projects. I call this series, “From College Principles To Pop Culture”:
1 Don’t give them too much time to think. This is a huge practice by brands like Apple. Haven’t you noticed that Apple only announces their new phones a few days or a couple of weeks before actually releasing them to the public? This allows for demand to increase, without any time for the consumer to actually sit down and carefully think about the decision they are about to make. Americans are notorious for being impulse shoppers – shopping for things sporadically and in the moment all because it is deemed popular or cool. Beyoncé’s team did the same. Releasing an album first thing in the morning (and in some regions, late at night) unannounced made people purchase simply because they were curious about what the album entailed. There was no way to read up on it and no way to listen to mama and ‘nem‘s burned copies. Which left us with one choice and one choice only, to make the purchase. Also, making the first release an e-copy, decreases the chances of it being duplicated in the early stages. Meaning if you’re the “I want it and I want it now” type you’ll be more inclined to getting the album on your own.
2 Show that you are the best, while still actually maintaining the best of quality. Now, misleading your clients + customers is never a wise thing to do because let’s face it, they’ll find out eventually. So although brands like Apple + artists like Beyoncé don’t give much time for us to think about what they’re delivering, they do always deliver the best quality. When I initially heard that there were seventeen videos, I imagined that it would have that sub-par old school Yahoo + AOL music sessions feel. You know, the one in a studio with a couple of cameras that transition back and forth. But I forgot that this was (*says in my deepest Beyoncé voice*) Beyonc’ and that nothing was done partially with her.
Much to my surprise, Beyoncé had fully executed videos with different sets, wardrobe changes, and extras in every single one. Lesson Learned: It’s important to not only maintain confidence in what you’re putting out but to also maintain top quality.
3 Maintain some type of exclusivity. The videos were only available on iTunes. Exclusivity allows brands to earn respect. If you’re offering a service, take pride in it. Don’t offer it to everyone and make clients come to you. Because if they do, it means that they trust what you’re putting out.
4 Timing is everything + Collaboration should produce results. With any marketing strategy must come a well thought out calendar. Many Christmas lists have now been lengthened with things like the Beyoncé album and perhaps even an iPod, iPad, or MacBook. A new found respect may have been earned for all parties involved simply because of the execution that took place. Without directly contracting it, Apple + Beyoncé collaborated – they had an endorsement deal that was written in the stars. When picking up a client, it’s important to know that it’s not just a customer but it’s someone you’re ultimately endorsing. If you and your client don’t have each others best interest at heart the relationship will not produce gain in the future. Limit who you work with and always make sure that timing is strategically analyzed.
5 Word of mouth is your greatest advertisement. And last but not least, word of mouth is your greatest advertisement. Beyoncé saved hundreds of thousands simply because her brand + empire speaks for itself. She maintained a neutral eye in the media, focused on her craft, and built a reputation that is well-respected despite any personal biases and prejudices that may be built on anything outside of her work. Take word of mouth and the opinions of others into consideration. You don’t necessarily have to quit because the general consensus is that you suck, but you should use what’s said about you to reposition + pivot your brand. I learned from a few investors at a start-up convention, that most successful companies + brands pivot 5-6 times. Value what your client thinks because eventually they’ll speak that thought and that thought will ultimately put money in your pockets, or take money out.
My favorite songs from Beyoncés new album: Drunk In Love + Partition
My favorite line: “Take all, of me – I just want to be the girl you like. The kinda girl you like.” – Partition