David Bowie, the groundbreaking and seminal artist, was a master of reinventing himself and marketing his personas to the world. From super-Starman to a dying Blackstar gone supernova, Bowie will likely go down in the annals of history as one of the most influential musicians of all time.
He didn’t just conquer his niche; he carved his very own in the face of rock and roll and enticed others to join him in its warm glow. He was truly fearless – a pop culture revolutionary and an icon who transformed the very essence of what it meant to be a pop or rock star.
Part of the magic of Bowie that kept him firmly rooted in the public’s imagination was his endless reimagining, reinvention and rebranding of his personas and music. In fact, as well as a musical luminary, you could also argue that he was a master marketer, among other things. Here are some lessons the mythical musician can teach you about marketing your business.
1. Try to set your own trends, don’t just follow what’s in ‘Fashion’
Conformity and following trends were never an option for David Bowie. In fact, his refusal to go with the flow and follow the crowd was instrumental (pardon the pun) in the birth of an entire genre of music. Though others – such as T.Rex and Roxy Music – definitely contributed, Bowie can proudly don the title of “the godfather of glam rock”.
This was no easy feat either; setting trends is far trickier than following them but, as reflected by Bowie’s constant staggering success through the years, it can pay off.
Staying up to date with everything is a good start to setting your own trends. Knowing your competition inside and out, reading industry news, and networking can all be used to stay on top of trends and get ahead of them.
Granted, toeing the line and following existing trends is an easier route to take, but don’t be scared to go out of your way to try something new to entice clients. Trusting in your research and data can being brave could help you set your own trends and get ahead of the competition.
2. Don’t be afraid to make ‘Changes’
Bowie was the sort of person that preferred to perform as a persona – at least at the start of his career – and there was no shortage of them either. It all started with Ziggy Stardust; the nihilistic extra-terrestrial sent to Earth to warn the planet of its coming destruction.
As the times changed, so did Bowie; Aladdin Sane, Halloween Jack, the Thin White Duke and the Blind Prophet all came and went, and since each character was intrinsically linked with music, his music would morph with the change and bend genres in the process. All of this played a part in his unbridled fame and success.
Similar to Bowie, you may also want to constantly change and update your marketing strategies to keep up with the times. Conducting market research relatively frequently to find out how your ideal customer thinks and feels, what they want and how they want to see it can keep you ahead of the curve and help you adapt your marketing strategies.
Change can be scary, but just like Bowie, you should try to fearlessly reinvent yourself and never become stale. You want your customers to look forward to something new and exciting from your business, while never losing sight of your core principles and ethics.
3. Adapt to stay relevant, even ‘Under Pressure’
David Bowie has always been one for staying relevant. Even from the very start of his climb to fame, his song, ‘Space Oddity’, was aptly released just a few days before humanity took its first steps on the moon. The conveniently timed release of the sombre tune, which tells the tale of the stranded astronaut Major Tom, catapulted Bowie into relevancy.
All throughout his life, Bowie’s endless creativity, musical exploration and willingness to adapt to the times helped him stay relevant throughout his decade-spanning career.
This quality should ideally be reflected in your own marketing. You should try and aim to be flexible, adapt to changing times and keep up with your audiences’ needs before they even realise they want it. You may be able to measure the ever-changing attitudes of your customers by building surveys or increasing your social media engagement.
Think of Bowie’s own legacy when you think about where you want your business to go – in fact, he managed to stay so relevant that his legacy will likely live on for generations to come.
4. Collaborate with the ‘Heroes’ of your field
When it came to collaborating with the best, David Bowie really was in another league. Of course, everyone knows about his collaboration with Queen on ‘Under Pressure’, or maybe even how he worked with John Lennon to write ‘Fame’.
Even the legendary songwriter Lou Reed teamed up with Bowie to produce his first post-Velvet Underground album, Transformer (he even provided the backing vocals to the fantastic song ‘Satellite of Love’).
Other than those three, he has worked with Tina Turner, Mick Jagger, Cher, Bing Crosby, Luther Vandross, Iggy Pop – the list of peerless artists he has collaborated with is extensive.
You shouldn’t be worried about collaborating with others and sharing the load; as you can see, even the best of the best join forces every now and then.
Collaborative marketing with other brands that align with your own vision can be a great way to boost the exposure of your brand. Working together could also help develop your influence, widen your reach and add authenticity when you work with other trusted brands.
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