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4 marketing lessons from the Fab Four

One of the regular highlights of the Yardstick content team calendar is the monthly “blog ideas” meeting.

Without wishing to let too much daylight in on magic, suffice to say they are entertaining sessions as we come up with ideas that we can discuss with Yardstick clients when it comes to their articles and newsletter content.

Subjects discussed last month included International Talk Like a Pirate Day, the new Spider-Man film, and the pros and cons of robot vacuum cleaners!

We also highlight topical anniversaries and, with slight apologies for the hyperbole, this month’s meeting referenced the 60th anniversary of one of the most important moments in the history of western culture.

That’s because, in September 1962, the Beatles were in Abbey Road studios recording their first single. As debut singles go, ‘Love Me Do’ was an average effort – especially when compared with what followed it. But it was a key link in a chain of events that revolutionised popular music.

Yes, there was a certain amount of chance involved with the Beatles rise to fame. After all, if John Lennon hadn’t met Paul McCartney at the Woolton village fete in July 1957 the biggest thing to come out of Liverpool in the 60s would have been the Isle of Man ferry.

Of course, that goes for all bands. If Mick Jagger hadn’t met Keith Richard, there would have been no Rolling Stones. If Mr and Mrs Gallagher had decided to call it a day after Noel’s birth in 1967, we’d have all been spared Oasis.

But there were other factors involved with their rise to fame, and continuing dominance that were far less due to chance and circumstance.

And four of those factors, in particular, deserve strong consideration when you’re thinking about how to market your adviser business.

1. “Let me tell you how it will be” – the importance of planning

It’s the most overused business cliché – I wince as I type it – but if you fail to plan you really do plan to fail.

Right up until the time Brian Epstein first set eyes on the Beatles at the Cavern Club in Liverpool in 1961, they didn’t have any plans of how they were going to succeed – beyond a stated desire to be “topper-most of the popper-most” in John Lennon’s words.

Once they’d agreed to his management offer, Epstein planned everything about the band to the nth degree – from what they wore on stage, the songs they sang, and their stage announcements, to how they looked, and which journalists they spoke to.

The only place he didn’t interfere was in the studio – which meant the band were free to focus on their music, knowing everything else was taken care of.

They didn’t have to worry about money either. Unlike other bands of the time such as The Who and The Small Faces, who signed up to unsuitable deals that meant they only enjoyed a small proportion of the fruits of their labours, the contract Epstein drew up was scrupulously fair.

After his untimely death in 1967, the music remained brilliant, but everything else around the band gradually became chaotic and disorganised without his hand on the tiller.

Although, by 1970, their eventual split seemed inevitable, you can’t help thinking that Epstein would have found a way to keep them together. He’d have put a plan together for them and – like all his plans – it would have worked.

As with the Beatles, the same with your marketing. Leaving everything to chance and working in a haphazard way will more than likely end in failure.

In our experience, the most successful advice firms are the ones with a clear marketing plan that’s flexible enough to take account of changes to your business, and ensures you have the best possible chance of business success.

2. “I get by with a little help from my friends” – get experts to help you

If the first marketing lesson can be distilled down to “have a Brian Epstein”, the second can be equally summarised as “have a George Martin”.

By the time they arrived at Abbey Road studios The Beatles were an excellent live act – but had no idea how to transfer their sound onto vinyl.

Fortunately, George Martin, their producer, was able to first guide them, and then – as their confidence grew – perform continual acts of musical alchemy and turn their base metal into gold.

His was the guiding hand that meant each studio production was better than the last.

George Martin wasn’t the only “friend” The Beatles called upon to manage details that they couldn’t manage themselves, especially after Brian Epstein’s death.

In each case – with the possible exception of Allen Klein – they picked people they trusted, and that trust was returned in loyalty and hard work.

If they needed experts, they got them in. So, keyboard genius, Billy Preston, joined them in the studio and came close to being the fifth member of the band. For orchestral contribution on some tracks, they got the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in to help.

It’s important to get the right help from the right people. If you want to successfully market your business and help it grow, you’re far better off getting practical help and guidance from marketing experts than trying to do it all yourself.

Not only will you maximise your chances of success, but you’ll also free up time for you to focus on what you do best.

3. “I could make it longer if you like the style…” – content matters

In any effective communication strategy, content matters.

In Lennon and McCartney, The Beatles had two content creators who were able to work both together and independently to churn out an unprecedented series of number one singles. Even more pertinently, the quality of songs on their albums didn’t deteriorate – not something that many bands or solo artists can boast.

From a portfolio of over 200 songs released while they were together, it’s hard to think of a dozen that are disposable or sub-standard.

They developed their content as times changed, continually experimented with different sounds, and stayed ahead of the curve and ahead of the competition.

Effective content should be accessible, understandable, entertaining, thought-provoking, and challenging. The Beatles content – their words and music – ticks all these boxes.

4. “You know I work all day” – there are no shortcuts

The Beatles very much subscribed to the idea that success doesn’t come overnight. It takes hard work and effort.

With little radio play and limited press coverage, in the early 60s playing live was the only way to build a following. So, bands were almost constantly playing gigs in their hometown, and touring around the UK. it wasn’t uncommon for bands to play well over 200 gigs a year.

The Beatles took it a step further. Not only did they tour the UK, but they also went through periods of intense performance immersion when they were in Hamburg.

Back then the average set would last about an hour and a half. In Hamburg, the Beatles would play at least three sets a night – every night – week after week. By the time they returned from their last stint there at the end of 1962, it was estimated that they’d played a total of 250 nights of five hours a night.

It was gruelling, but it meant that they knew each other and their music, inside out.

You can see it on the Get Back film of the 1969 studio sessions seven years after Hamburg. George Harrison absent-mindedly plays a few chords from an old song to himself, and instantly the others lock in, subconsciously.

It’s rare that there are shortcuts to success. It can take time to create a successful brand and to start getting your website and other content noticed. But it’s time and commitment that will pay big dividends as your company grows and your content starts getting seen and recognised by both existing and new clients.

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