When working with new clients I often tell the story of how Redbull started rolling out their product. In recent years Redbull has started doing a great deal of business to consumer outreach through advertising but it wasn’t always that way. I was once told by someone who works in marketing there that the original Redbull strategy was as simple as making sure that “cool people” i.e. actors, musicians, models had a can of Redbull in their hands as often as possible.
This meant that if you walked into a record label, high-end music management office, modeling agency, concert promoter, talent agency, PR firm or other office whose function was to support and grow celebrity of some kind you were often greeted by the tell tale mini Redbull fridge. The fridges were rare or at least rare enough that it made it seem as if those who had one had considerable influence as a purveyor of celebrity culture. I’m sure they were often fixtures in the homes and offices of celebrities as well but as someone who isn’t much of a star fucker I only have second hand information confirming this.
What was the logic in this strategy? Does it not seem that giving free product to a very small list of A-list celebrities would have backfired? It turns out that by providing free product to this community and continuing to provide it to those who seemed to have a genuine love of the product turned out rather well for Redbull- but Why?
- The target audience was already in the public eye – no need to spend money on getting the message out there if you are able to turn on walking talking billboards for the cost of free product.
- A Single “real” photograph of a celeb with a can of Redbull was worth millions of dollars worth of advertising because it sent the message that this person was a legitimate fan and not someone in it for a big check. I was told that Brittney Spears lost a giant deal with Pepsi for constantly being photographed by the paparazzi with a can of Redbull in her hands.
- Redbull realized that they could market their products to other established brands (in this case celebrities) who would by just using their product vouch for its validity to their respective fanbases.
Do you see where this is going?
Many artists and bands get stuck in the position of playing to their friends and family and struggling to grow beyond this small base.
I have seen several artists break through this very difficult phase by marketing their projects not only to people who are potential fans (Business to Consumer B2C) but to other musicians (Business to Business B2B). This may seem counter-intuitive but think about it for a second. If you sell one other artist or one other band that already draws a crowd equal to yours and they become willing to vouch for you by:
- Having you or one of your band members guest with them on a song during their show or having them on a show of yours
- Sharing backline and doing a joint show where two artists alternate every other song
- Appearing on your records or in your videos (or vica verca)
- Doing a song or a cover together live
- Mentioning your group on their mailing list of vica verca
The above or ANY co-branding activity automatically suggests to another artist’s audience that you are worthy of their attention. Is this not an easier sell to a new fan than going in completely cold? I’d say so.
Hip hop has had this right for decades but even hip hop artists forget from time to time and artists of all kinds get caught up in competition and ego and all kinds of bullshit that doesn’t help their cause.
The long and the short of it is go out and make as many fans as you can and if at all possible make other artists your fans and friends as well – they can vouch for you in ways that ordinary fans can’t and such symbiotic relationships can have enormous upside for your career.