Sunday, September 3, 2017

Follow Me on Social Media During Content Marketing World 2017

Hello, all my content marketing friends! Content Marketing World is here as we all make our way to downtown Cleveland this week. Welcome to everyone visiting from out of town. 

In my guest post, Content Marketing Advice: Always Jump Where Your Friends Are, I write about the benefits of face-to-face interactions at Content Marketing World. I’d love to meet you, so feel free to come right up and introduce yourself (if I don’t come up to you first). 

I'll also be posting quite a bit on social media. Whether you're not able to make it and want to follow along to see what we're learning or if you're there and want to see what's going on in other sessions, I want to make it easy for you to follow me. 

Here are links to my social media profiles. Feel free to follow me on any or all of them (during and after the conference):
My schedule is below so you can see what sessions I'm in and will be posting about and the times. If you're at the conference, please come up and say hi or send me messages. Also, I'm from Cleveland, so if you have any questions about the city or need any recommendations for places to go, I'm happy to help. 

Tuesday, Sept. 5
  • 7pm: Opening Night Reception at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Wednesday, Sept. 6
  • 8am: Welcome to the Content Marketing Revolution - Joe Pulizzi
  • 8:20am: Keynote – Imagination at Work: Lessons in Storytelling from GE – Linda Boff
  • 8:55am: Keynote – Be the Exception: How Brilliant Marketers Find and Follow What Makes Their Stories Different in a World Full of Average Content - Jay Acunzo
  • 10:15: SEO and Content Marketing – An Advanced Look at Measurement - Andy Crestodina
  • 11:20am: Exceptional Content: Challenging the Conventions of Content Marketing - Doug Kessler
  • 12:20pm: Creative Without Data is a Shot in the Dark – Rita Prosyak Drucker
  • 1:45pm: How Two Champion Professional Sports Teams Rock Social with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and More – Joel Hammond and Brandon Jirousek
  • 2:50pm: Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age – Mark Schaefer
  • 4:15: Content Marketing Awards Presentations and Announcements – Stephanie Stahl
  • 5:05pm: Keynote: How to Build a Dominant Media Brand One Day at a Time – Casey Neistat
  • 7pm: #CMWorld Twitter Chat Meetup
  • 9pm: Mega 80’s at House of Blues!
  • 10:30pm: #CMWorld After Party
Thursday, Sept. 7
Friday, Sept. 8
  • 8:00am: How to Build and Maintain an Audience with a Remarkable Email Newsletter – Scott Monty
  • 9:00am: Writing Secrets from Productive and Prolific Writers (the Jerks!): How to Create Better Content When No One Has Enough Time – Ann Handley
The schedule is subject to change. You never know when an opportunity may present itself!

Thanks for following me and I hope you find the information I share to be valuable. As always, you can also check out my blog, Taking it Back ( I'll have a recap post of my experience at Content Marketing World a few days after the event. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kill Your Marketing to Make It a Profit Center

Killing Marketing Cover

When will we learn as marketers? We play an endless game of cat and mouse chasing potential customers with annoying ads. With DVR’s, people fast forward through commercials. So, we make commercials that can promote the product even at high speed. Video On Demand became another ad-free option...except for network channels. Their On Demand programming includes ads...and they disabled the fast forward option. 

Websites offer pop-up ads when you visit a page, when you move your cursor a certain way, or when you’re about to leave a page. There are banner ads all over the place. Google searches offer more ads than actual search results. Social media feeds regulate what posts you can see from your friends and family, but cram in more and more ads. It’s no wonder customers install pop-up blockers and ad blockers.

But then we find a way around those…or some websites restrict access if you block their ads! South Park even made fun of the whole practice in an episode in which they created a character who was really an ad. The joke being that it was the latest way around ad blockers. 

When are we going to wake up? It has to stop. Rather than waste our energy on more ways to annoy people with ads, why don’t we listen to what they’re telling us? THEY DON’T WANT OUR ADS!! Not on TV. Not on the Internet. Not on their smart phones. 

Wouldn’t it be better to focus our messaging on the people that are actually interested in consuming it? Wouldn’t it be smarter to provide helpful information instead of plastering “Buy This” messages everywhere? 

No surprise I’m talking about content marketing. In addition to creating content, you’re developing an audience to which you consistently deliver relevant, useful information. But what if you could take it one step further? What if you could transform your marketing to develop multiple revenue streams from you audience? So much so that you turn the marketing department from a supporting function into a profit center for the business? 

A Better Way For Marketers

This is the basis for Killing Marketing: How Innovative Businesses Are Turning Marketing Cost Into Profit, the new book by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose. It builds off their past books, most notably Pulizzi's Content, Inc. and Rose's Experiences: The Seventh Era of Marketing (co-written with Carla Johnson), and moves the notions forward. 

With content marketing, successful marketers are changing. Instead of using advertising to pull in attention, they're speaking directly to consumers. Killing Marketing tells you how to monetize your audience in a way that makes your marketing department a profit center for the business.

Killing Marketing Quote

Once you’ve built a loyal audience, you can add revenue streams based on what they need. As Pulizzi and Rose researched companies having success with content marketing, they realized the new marketing business model is now the same as the media business model: Create an audience and sell to that audience. 

Your audience relationship can create many lines of value including:

  • Competency: Use data to understand more about your customers.
  • Campaign Value: Create supporting transactional, promotional efforts to keep you top of mind when your audience is ready to buy.
  • Customer Value: Create more loyal, valuable customers through content.
  • Cash: Generate direct revenue through marketing programs that monetize your customer relationships.

Monetizing Your Audience

Content Marketing Institute Visual Strategy

Content Marketing Institute (CMI) built their revenue model around their daily blog. It follows Walt Disney's model that centers around animated and live action movies. As CMI increased their blog subscribers, they were able to add revenue streams. These focus on four buckets:

  • Events: Content Marketing World.
  • Digital: Benefactor sponsorships, This Old Marketing podcast, email list rental, webinars, white papers, virtual events, etc.
  • Print: Chief Content Officer Magazine.
  • Insights: Online training, advisory services, research, Content Marketing Awards.

There are 10 ways to drive revenue from your loyal audience:

Direct Revenue:
  • Advertising/Sponsorship.
  • Conferences and events.
  • Premium Content: Direct-for-sale, funded, syndicated.
  • Donations.
  • Subscriptions.

Indirect Revenue:
  • Products.
  • Services.
  • Recurring customers.
  • Yield increase.
  • Cross sales.

Making the Transition

Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose

Making this type of departmental (or organizational) change is a hard and long process. How do we do it? Pulizzi and Rose’s solution is to kill marketing as we know it. Then, rebuild the strategy to create valuable customer experiences with every interaction. The marketing team should build and manage the experiences the same way they do products. 

The companies that are succeeding have these common skill sets:
  1. Create engaging events that inspire subscription. Instead of placing “stop” points along the buying journey that slow the process, remove as much friction as possible.
  2. Be meaning-driven, not data-driven. Understand what data you need and the emotional aspect of it. Why do customers give you their data?
  3. Organize for agility, not speed. It's not about how fast and how many times you can get your message out. It's about being where your customer needs you to be when they need you.

These traits manifest themselves in the content. Content needs to be a strategic function of the business. Make sure you have the right strategy in place and that your content follows it. State your hypothesis and start with big picture questions. Then, get more focused and specific.

The New Marketing Is Within Your Reach

I know what you’re thinking: This is all great, but how do I actually do it? Well, I can’t tell you everything. Otherwise you’d have no reason to buy the book. And buy it you should! Not to sound like Yoda, but this book is a must read for all marketers and entrepreneurs. Through a plethora of examples, advice and steps, you’ll learn how to transform your marketing. You’ll begin to see the many opportunities you never knew were there…just like the $12 billion foresight George Lucas had with Star Wars merchandise!

As they note, Peter Drucker said "Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business." This version of marketing is in reach. They explain how to kill the function of marketing, so you can rebuild it to be more powerful than ever. 

Stop spending the budget you work so hard to secure on ads that people go out of their way to ignore. Start investing in building an audience that looks forward to your content, and will happily pay for new ways to engage with you. Kill your marketing today!

Thanks for reading and if you like this post, please share it!

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

NBA Marketing Has a Huge Problem

Lebron James Resting

As a kid, I was a huge Lakers fan. My favorite player was Magic Johnson. Growing up in Cleveland, they played here once a year. I was lucky enough to go once or twice to see Magic play live. I can only imagine if my parents had paid for us to go and Magic didn’t play. Not because he was injured, but because he needed to rest. That would have been unheard of.

These days it’s becoming commonplace. In a recent game, the Cleveland Cavs held out LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on a nationally televised game in their only road game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The week before that the Golden State Warriors sat Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala against the San Antonio Spurs.

The trend started a few years ago with the San Antonio Spurs. Gregg Popovich, knowing that his players were aging, would rest Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker for certain games during the season. It raised a few eyebrows but didn’t cause the huge stir we’ve seen these last couple weeks.

Lebron James with Coffee Cleveland Cavs

So far, LeBron James has missed five games due to rest, three of which included Irving and Love. That’s five games in which fans paid to see the NBA’s best player only to watch him sit on the bench. Don’t get me wrong. Injuries are always a risk when you buy tickets and you have no control over it. But, this is just rest.

Individual Teams vs. the League

The biggest reason this story blew up is because the rested players issue affected two nationally televised games on ABC two weeks in a row. Given that ABC/ESPN are paying $2.66 billion per year to show the games, it becomes an issue when the league’s best players skip these games. Ratings go down and that means less money for everyone, except the NBA…at least for now.

The Cavs believe they’re doing the right thing to keep their stars primed for a deep playoff run that they fully expect to end with another championship. But, the league as a whole has obligations to fans, TV networks, advertisers, etc. Who’s right here?

Big picture, the league is right. Individual teams are thinking short term championships, but in the long run, it hurts the NBA. Due to the ridiculous amount of money ABC/ESPN is paying to carry the games, as well as other revenues, the salary cap is at a record high of $94.1 million.

The Impact

From a marketing perspective, this can easily turn into a nightmare. The NBA is a players league. The marketing is based on the players and superstar matchups. That’s much harder to promote if you don’t know if the superstars will play.

What happens if teams keep holding their star players out to rest:

  • TV ratings go down: Without the superstars playing, the marquee matchups ABC/ESPN hope will be ratings gold become unwatchable 30-point blowouts. People stop watching. Ad rates go down. ABC/ESPN loses money. So, when the next TV contract deal comes around, they don’t want to pay as much to show the games. The result is the NBA loses money.

  • Ticket sales go down: NBA ticket prices are expensive. Families spend a small fortune to take the kids to see their favorite players. If there’s a growing risk that teams are going to rest their top player, what happens to the value of the tickets? Are you going to spend hundreds of dollars to take your family to a game if there’s a chance the three best players are going to sit?

What players need to realize is that if NBA loses money, the salary cap will decrease and eventually they won’t make as much money. That probably won’t affect today’s players but could have a huge effect 5-10 years down the road...especially if the trend grows.

To his credit, Adam Silver made a statement warning teams of significant penalties if they don’t follow league rules for reporting injuries. He understands that upsetting the fans and the league’s partners is bad for business. He needs the owners to get it. But, penalties will only go so far, especially when you have owners that are willing to spend any amount of money to win a championship.

What's your take? Do you have a problem with NBA stars sitting out to rest? What do you think the league can or should do about it? Tell us in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please share it!

Main Image Source: Keith Allison via Flickr

Monday, March 6, 2017

How to Make Your Business Come "Alive" Like KISS

Kiss Alive Album Cover

For the first time, Taking It Back is featuring a guest blogger! I'm excited to share this post by Josh Womack. He came to me with a great idea for a post that I wish I would have come up with. Enjoy! 

They’re one of rock’s most recognizable faces. With black and white kabuki makeup and a lengthy tongue, KISS has survived for four decades – but not without struggles.

KISS launched their careers before the age of social media. They earned fans with blood (literally), sweat, tears and a whole bunch of pyro. They put out albums, toured and then did it all over again.

The obstacles were plenty – critics dismissed them, club owners didn’t understand them and initially, album sales were lax. Finally, they came "Alive."

A band is like a small business. You learn as you go. And if you listen to your customers, you can learn AND grow.

Various members and musical trends have knocked them down, but KISS always gets back up. And with seven-inch boots, they continue to stand tall.

You can stand tall, too. As a business owner, entrepreneur or marketer, KISS’ story should remind you that grit, consistency and reevaluating your strategy can take you to great heights.

Be like KISS and get your business to rock and roll all night and profit every day.

Consistent Content

Kiss Debut Album cover
KISS put out their self-titled debut album on February 18, 1974. Despite TV appearances on ABC’s In Concert and The Mike Douglas Show, the album didn’t take off. So, KISS poured everything they had into their live shows – no matter if it was for 300 or 3,000 people. They marched through the Midwest, breathing fire, spitting blood and giving live performances to which fans couldn’t wait to tell their friends and family about.

How does this relate to you, the entrepreneur? Like KISS, it’s important that you pour everything into your product and customer experience. For the band, it was the notion that the crowd got more than their money’s worth. Your "live" experience for the customer is a combination of a good product with even greater service. You want the message, and your brand awareness, to spread.

With KISS’ self-titled debut selling poorly, their label, Casablanca Records, urged the band to get back into the studio quickly. The label wanted a Top 40 hit that would break the band into the mainstream.

Kiss Hotter Than Hell Album cover
KISS’ released their second album, Hotter Than Hell, on October 22nd, just eight months after their debut effort. The only single from the record, “Let Me Go, Rock ‘n’ Roll” failed to chart. Sales were lackluster, but a new album meant a new tour – and most importantly, new fans. 

KISS soon realized their live shows were special. That’s where the connection was made. The crowd reactions fueled their desire not to give up.

When you’re building your following or fan base, look for trends. What creates a positive customer reaction? Is there an emotional connection they’re having to what you’re selling or how you’re interacting with them?

Third time’s a charm?

Kiss Dressed to Kill Album cover
With the band’s label nearing bankruptcy, KISS put out their third album in just 13 months! Dressed To Kill was released on March 19, 1975 and featured the band dressed in suits going for a classy, but crazy look. More importantly, the album featured what would eventually become their signature anthem: “Rock and Roll All Nite”.

Dressed To Kill did slightly better than Hotter Than Hell, but still not the big break the band or label needed. Did they pack it in and go home? No, of course not. They did what they do best – got back on the road to build their following.

At this point it’s important to recognize what you do well – and better than everyone else. Play to your strengths. For KISS’ it was touring. They put all their energy into the live experience. For you it may be blogging, email newsletters or any other form of engaging content your fans or customers find helpful and relevant.

It’s Alive!

Kiss Live in 1975

Think of it as a rock and roll Hail Mary! Knowing that KISS was connecting with the now popular KISS Army, Casablanca had an idea: What if we gave the ‘live’ experience to KISS fans in the palm of their hands?

The label knew there were a ton of fans at the shows, but not the album sales to match. A live album could be the bridge to bring the band closer to the faithful KISS Army.

To capture the ‘live’ feeling, the band recorded three shows between May and July of 1975. They were smart enough to pick crowds that had been the most loyal as well: Cleveland, Wildwood (NJ) and Detroit – which would later inspire one of their most popular songs, Detroit Rock City.

Alive! was released on September 10, 1975 and took off like the freight train that was a KISS concert. The grittiness of the sound and the crowd noise are what fans wanted all along.

The album landed KISS their first Top 40 hit, and their now-signature anthem and concert closer. A live version of “Rock and Roll All Nite”.

The album went gold, then platinum, then double platinum, then triple platinum! The rest is rock and roll history.

Keep ‘touring’

KISS knew touring was key and in the years before social media, there was no substitute for getting in front of people.

Find out what your version of ‘touring’ is. It could be a presence at a quarterly trade show or attending one networking event a month.

In building Laugh Staff, my touring consisted of pitching journalists on story angles, guest blogging to build our SEO, and of course, writing funny speeches that people would love – and tell their friends about.

It all adds up. KISS did a cover of the band Argent’s song "God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II" and one of the verses sums it up perfectly.

“If you wanna be a singer or play guitar/Man, you gotta sweat or you won’t get far/ Cause it’s never too late to work nine-to-five."

Josh Womack is the head writer for Laugh Staff, where he writes hilarious wedding speeches. He’s also a copywriter for Progressive Insurance and a card-carrying member of the KISS Army

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day Content Marketing Hits and Misses

Valentine's Day Content Marketing Hits and Misses

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, many brands try to play the role of Cupid. But, instead of arrows, they create Valentine’s Day-themed content to pierce the hearts of prospective lovers…I mean, customers. Unfortunately, also like Cupid’s arrows, they sometimes miss their mark.

When a brand’s content hits it target, we fall in love with the brand. When it misses, we dismiss the content or, worse yet, turn on the brand and dislike it. The following are the best content hits and misses meant to celebrate the day of love.

The Hits #SoThisIsLove

Disney #SoThisIsLove

Imagine being a Disney fanatic and being able to work for the company you love! That’s what happened for many of Disney’s employees. With its #SoThisIsLove promotion, Disney showcases four employees. They share stories of their love for specific aspects of Disney:

The stories interesting, and Disney ties them back to relevant products we can buy. No company does merchandising better than Disney, and this is another example.

Pokemon Go Valentine’s Day Event

The Pokemon Go craze has long since fizzled, but there are still plenty of die-hard players. Their Valentine’s Day event offers features that excite them to chase the characters. Special “pink” Pokemon are available and even reward players with double candy. Plus, the lures are available for six hours. Lure modules increase the number of Pokemon available for capture at a Pokestop.

As the Forbes article says, this event won’t bring in many new players, but will be popular with current users.

The Miss

Hallmark Valentine’s Day Ideas

Hallmark got it wrong. I repeat: Hallmark got it wrong. How can that be with a holiday that is tailor-made for them? Actually, in several ways. The biggest reason is their Valentine’s Day page is focused too much on selling. You’ll scroll through six categories before you find non-sales related content.

When you finally get to some useful Valentine’s Day content, their blog post setup is odd. They have an intro, then the share buttons with a weak CTA. Then, they offer the heart of the blog post, but it’s easy to miss. The topics are good, but the results are inconsistent:
  • Love Quotes: This section works well with 15 love quotes that could be from their cards. It’s not clear if they are, but I’d guess so.
  • Kids Valentine’s Day Party Games: Another nice post with 14 games and puzzles to download.
  • Love Letter Tips: This was a huge letdown. Maybe I’m just used to expert writing advice from the likes of Ann Handley, but these tips will get you nowhere.

To top off this miss of a page, Hallmark puts what should have been the intro section at the very bottom of the page. Just an odd way to try to work content into their promotion.

Burger King Adults Meal

Burger King Israel is going there. Yep. Don't let the kids see this one. Just for Valentine's Day, they're offering an Adults Meal. It comes with two Whoppers (insert your own joke here), two orders of French fries, two beers (fitting), and...a romantic ADULT TOY! Because nothing says love and romance like getting an adult toy from Burger King included with your Valentine's Day dinner. Again, from Burger King. When you care enough to give the very best. Oh, but you can only get after 6pm.

BONUS: The Truly Strange

Netflix’s Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special

I don’t know where Cupid’s arrow was aiming or where it hit for this one. Michael Bolton plays himself in this Netflix comedy. I can’t do a description justice. You need to watch the trailer below and draw your own conclusions. I’ll be honest…I kind of want to check it out.

What do you think of the content above? Do you have other examples? Share them in the comments below. We’d all love to hear them. Thanks for reading and if you like this post, please share it.   

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Will Donald Trump Be the Death of Facebook?

This isn’t a political post, nor is it a “Facebook is dead” post. Rather, it’s an observation of my Facebook feed over the last few weeks. I’m guessing your feed has been similar and that you sure some of my thoughts:

As voting day approached last November, most of us were ready for the election to be over. Political Facebook posts inundated us trying to persuade everyone to one side or the other. We put up with them during the election…and the TV ads, the postcards and mailers and the phone calls. We could see the end coming as the election passed. But, then Donald Trump won. The ads, postcards and calls stopped. But the Facebook posts haven’t. They keep coming.

People post everything Trump does. And they include commentary, opinions, complaints and snarky remarks. And those are followed by more replies and arguments. Users are getting overwhelmed which is not good for Facebook.

Facebook As a News Source

Some of this is their own doing. Mark Zuckerberg made a concerted effort to make Facebook a place for users to search for news and comment on it. Zuckerberg wanted to move the conversations from Twitter to Facebook. What we’re finding out is that most users don’t go to Facebook for that purpose.

Most people prefer to use Facebook to get news about their family and friends, not politics. And, definitely not for political arguments. With all the posts about Trump and everyone’s opinions about them, people are starting to get fed up.

What Can You Do About It?

Many users are starting to unfollow people that make too many political posts. This has two downsides. First, as Mark Schaefer point out in his Facebook post, it cuts off visibility into dissenting opinions (and in some cases, actual facts!). Mark Schaeffer raised this point through a Facebook post. After the unfriending, everyone we’re connected to will be just like us. Without exposure to other viewpoints, this will go farther in dividing people.

The second problem is that people will miss out on non-political posts they may want to see. Most people don’t only post political comments. It’s usually mixed in with other posts that their friends enjoy. By unfriending them, they won’t get to see those.

I’m guessing there are quite a few of us who are too lazy to go to the trouble of unfriending people. Yes, I’m including myself in this group. For us, there’s a Google Chrome plug-in available that blocks political posts. Some people are cutting way back on their Facebook usage or leaving it altogether.

What Happens Next?

What effect will this have on Facebook’s long term viability? Probably not much. Things will start to normalize. But, I have seen reactions I don’t think I’ve ever seen by Facebook users in such a prolonged and growing way. That open up some opportunities for other platforms.
Some new players could enter the mix. We could see a social media start-up with a focus on political commentary only. This would offer an outlet for those that want give their opinions.

Current social media platforms could promote their lack of political and negative postings. Instagram (owned by Facebook) and Snapchat are two platforms that come to mind. Their focus on photos and videos don’t lend themselves as well to political commentary. I’m not saying there isn’t any, but I don’t notice it often.

Facebook should be paying attention to how their users are reacting to the political posts. Add to that their fake news issues and Facebook can learn a lot about how people want to use their platform. Just because Facebook wants to be a news commentary source, that doesn’t mean that’s how we want to use it. It should use this data to evolve the service into what we are saying we want. Time will tell if Zuckerberg is paying attention.

How are you adjusting your Facebook usage with all of the political posts? Share it in the comments below. Thanks for reading and if you like this post, please share it with your friends.

Donald Trump Image Source: DonkeyHotey via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How to Create Loyal Customers Like a Rock Star

Concert Crowd - fan and customer loyalty

I was watching an interview with Jon Bon Jovi on YouTube to promote his new CD, This House Is Not For Sale. At one point (at the 7:15 mark in the video below), the interviewer asks him a hypothetical "Would You Rather" question: Would he rather his new CD appeal only to new fans with current fans hating it vs. appealing only to current fans with it bringing in no new fans. Bon Jovi answered that he wanted new fans. It's all about the growth for him. As a current fan, this bothered me.

I know growing your fan base is important, but so is keeping your current fans loyal. Some of their fans have been there for more than 30 years and are their biggest advocates. They're the reason Bon Jovi has been so successful.

It's the same with companies. Many businesses emphasize new customer growth and lose sight of their loyal customers. In many ways, retention is more important than acquisition. Look at these numbers reported by Emmet C. Murphy and Mark A. Murphy in their book, Leading On the Edge of Chaos:

  • It costs 5x more to acquire a customer
  • Increasing your retention rate by 5% can increase profitability up to 125%
  • A 2% increase in retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%
  • Customers tend to become more profitable over time
If that's not enough, here’s more data:

Your loyal customers are the key to your company's longevity. Not only do they keep coming back, but you can turn them into advocates that drive new customers.

Going back to rock bands, this is how most build their following and maintain their longevity. Most companies would love to have an audience as loyal as some of your favorite bands. Follow their success and learn from some of their missteps. Here are some lessons you can learn from rock and roll royalty!

Stay True to Your Strengths

Angus Young - AC/DC - Fan Customer Loyalty
Once you know your strengths, continue to grow and build on them until you excel. AC/DC has built their career by sticking to what works for them: hard, blues-based rock and roll. That's where their passion lies.

Many bands have tried to copy their style. But, none have seen the same success. They do what they do better than anyone else. Their fans know what to expect from an AC/DC album, and they don't want to hear them trying to keep up the latest music fads.

In your business, play to your strengths and do them better than anyone else. Focus on creating core services your competitors can't match. Understand what your customers want. Keep striving to do it better.

Don’t Overextend Your Business

Not all bands were smart enough to stay with strengths. Guns n' Roses built their fanbase by being a down and dirty hard rock band. The success of Appetite for Destruction speaks for itself. The raw sound had a sense of danger and excitement. But, the band overextended their capabilities with Use Your Illusions 1 & 2. They didn't deliver on the strengths of the first album. The rebellious attitude changed to grand self-indulgence. The recording of the overproduced albums planted seeds that tore the band apart in time.

Many businesses fall into the same trap with their first success. To keep revenue growing, companies expand their services beyond their expertise. Core services suffer as they put more focus into the new areas that need more attention to be able to compete. Customers can no longer rely on the services that made the company successful in the first place.

Evolve, But Be Careful of Complete Transformations

Bon Jovi - Fan Customer Loyalty
In the early '90s, seemingly overnight, grunge ignited a new music trend and left '80s hard rock in its dust. One band not only survived but continued to grow their success. As trends changed from grunge to boy bands to ultrapop, Bon Jovi remains a fan favorite. Luckily for Jon Bon Jovi the "Would You Rather" question above wasn't a reality. By focusing on their songwriting, they were able to keep most of their loyal fans while also gaining new ones.

After their mega-success in the '80s, they realized their fans were getting older. And so were they. They wanted to write songs that resonated with their evolving fans. The subject matter got more mature as they did. Their new music was relevant to things their fans were now experiencing.

If Bon Jovi had tried to transform themselves into Nirvana, they would have bombed. That's not the sound Bon Jovi fans wanted. They evolved enough to escape from '80s rock glam, but not so much to alienate their audience.

In your business, trends and technology may make past tools and processes obsolete. When this happens, you need to understand what your customers want from you. You may need to pivot to meet new needs. But, stay grounded in the things you do better than your competitors.

Companies that change plans to chase every new trend aren’t going to be around long. Your customers will keep coming back for the core services they can count on from you.

Be Prepared to Work Hard

Def Leppard - Fan Customer Loyalty

Def Leppard is one of those bands that always seems to stick around. As they were coming up in the '80s, they saw bands like Foreigner and REO Speedwagon fade away. They knew their success was fleeting and they could disappear as new bands came up in the '90s.

They never took their early success for granted. They knew they’d have to keep working hard to stay around until success returned. They went through down times but continued touring and releasing albums. Their latest CD may be their best CD since the '80s. Lead singer Joe Elliot explained, “It took a long time, but we were always prepared to do the hard work. And I think the difference between us and a lot of other bands is that we aren't scared of the perspiration…"

Businesses need to have that same attitude. Current good fortune doesn't guarantee future success. Competitors will always be trying to take your customers. Be in it for the long haul. Business is cyclical, so plan for how you'll be able to survive if you run into a rough patch. Know what you'll do to build yourself back up.

Love What You Do

Cheap Trick - Rick Nielsen - Fan Customer Loyalty
Sometimes it's the pure love of what you do that dictates your success. It's the love of music that has been key to Cheap Trick's success. Guitarist Rick Nielsen is doing exactly what he's always wanted to do. He didn't make plans. He just let his passion drive him.

Their passion is contagious. These recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees have millions of fans. They've influenced countless bands in many music genres. The band still tours all the time, headlining their own shows and opening for many of the biggest bands (old and new). While other bands might be able to copy their sound or style, they can't match their pure love for the music.

Businesses that love what they do for the simple fact that they're able to do it attract like-minded customers. They come back again and again to experience that level of caring. It's one aspect that competitors can't touch.

As Jay Baer says, other companies can copy your products, service offerings and processes. But, the one thing they can't do is care more than you. Your passion is what will make you stand out and keep your customers choosing you.

Developing a loyal audience is the key to success in both the music industry and the business world. That audience can become advocates that help spur your growth. There are so many choices that if you've developed a strong customer base, it's crucial that you keep it.

What tips do you have to make sure your customers remain loyal? What steps have you taken? Share it with us in the comments below.

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Image Sources:
Concert Crowd Photo: By Luka Knežević - Strika, EXIT Photo Team (Exit Festival's Flickr photostream) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Angus Young Photo: Weatherman90 at English Wikipedia
Guns n' Roses Photo: By Rock2282 (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Bon Jovi Photo: By Jeremy Bednarski
Def Leppard Photo: By Jeremy Bednarski
Cheap Trick Photo: By Jeremy Bednarski