What brands can learn from the Queen of Marketing.
The last time I saw someone emerge from an egg, Robin Williams was morking his way into our Nanu-Nanus. Well, 24-year-old Lady Gaga’s Grammy entrance trumped the Orkian tradition with more glitz, more glam, and more of something a little less expected:
Yup, pay attention pointy-haired CEOs: The best marketing case study may not be in the Harvard Business Review after all. It’s on your kid’s iPod. Welcome to the School of Gaga. Here’s what business and brands can learn.
1. She stands for something.
At the core of the Lady Gaga brand isn’t a committee-written mission statement. It’s a belief. And everything Gaga does ties back to that one mantra: People should be free to be themselves.
It drives her music. It inspires her outfits. It dictates her performances. How many brands have a belief that influences product development, packaging, social responsibility, customer service and more? Sadly, as many brands’ campaigns change, so do their beliefs.
2. She’s open, honest and genuine.
“What artists do wrong is they lie. And I don’t lie. I’m not a liar. I built good will with my fans. They know who I am.”
Above all else, consumers want honesty. Lady Gaga delivers. Whether it’s being open about her background (real name: Stephanie), her drug use (smokes pot) or even her insecurities, Gaga is honest. Some may think she’s just one big marketing machine but she’s even open about that:
“One of my greatest artworks is the Art of Fame. I’m a master of the Art of Fame.”
Her honesty brings credibility to everything she does. Are you listening big business?
3. She puts her customers first.
Gaga doesn’t just call her fans, “Little Monsters”. She actually has those words tattooed on her leg. And I don’t think it’s one of those lick-the-back-and-press-really-hard tattoos, either. How many of us are THAT dedicated to the people who put bread on our table? Not many.Lady Gaga’s customers are not a necessary evil. They inspire her. They’re at the centre of everything she does. She listens to them. She communicates with them. And she shares her success with them.
4. It’s about her but it’s not about her.
Obviously, one person could not do this alone. Gaga is surrounded by a team of stylists, musicians, choreographers, publicists, and creatives that keep her and her music fresh.
Instead of calling them her suppliers or partners or whatever the latest version of “self-directed work teams” is, she simply includes them in the collective family unit, “House of Gaga”. There may be a Lady in the House but the brand requires a gaggle of Gagas. She acknowledges and celebrates that in a real and genuine way. As she explained to Jay Leno recently,
“I don’t want the band and dancers to feel like a band and dancers behind me because the performance of Born This Way is nothing without them.”
It’s simple. Instead of creating policies on improving morale and retention, she treats her people with respect. I wish more would.
5. She keeps us interested.
What will she do next? We never know. What we DO know is that simply talking about personal freedom and expression could get really boring after a while. To keep us engaged, she keeps us entertained. Provocative videos. Original attire. Unique performances. Grand entrances. Perfectly timed sneak peeks and releases. Constant media exposure. New partnerships (Beyonce, Elton John and others). Consistent communication. She does it all to keep us coming back for more. And it’s ALWAYS interesting.
6. She understands social media
- 8 million followers on Twitter (the most)
- 28 million + Facebook fans
- 1 billion + views on Youtube.
At the end of her Leno interview, Jay was gushing from his chin as he wrapped up:
Leno: I think you’re really great… I do appreciate all the effort. Your people get here early. And you look great. And people can’t wait to see you. And you have wonderful taste and everything. And I thought you were just fantastic.
Gaga: Well, this is what I do.
What is it you do?