10/04/2013 Leave a comment
First off, I have to admit I am not a Grateful Dead fan. My iPod does not have a single song by the band or any of its post-Garcia incarnations. I may have eaten Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream once as a sophomore at U.Va., but that does not qualify me as any shade of Deadhead.
In fact, on my iPod, aside for a good number of audiobooks, the dominant artist is Billy Joel. That said, this book, the Marketing Lessons of the Grateful Dead is so good that I’ve actually been listening to a few iTunes 30-second samples from the band.
Written as collaboration between the renowned David Meerman Scott, author of the New Rules of Marketing and PR 2.0, and Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot, the book clearly describes what sets the operations of the band apart from any other band or organization in the music industry.
While I was expecting labored analogies to try and substantiate some kind of business relevance, what I found instead were clear examples of brilliant business moves. They are related to management, marketing, customer service, personal motivation, social networking and public relations.
Among the many questions the book answers are:
• Why in an industry so obsessed with copyright, the Grateful Dead actually encourages its fans to tape its music?
• Why in a here-today-and-gone-tomorrow industry, the band survives in various incarnations even after the passing of one of its key members?
• How the band is able to offer such a wide array of logo products without compromising its authenticity?
• Why rewarding your current customers must always take precedence over recruiting new ones?
• How to partner with mutual respect and benefit?
• How to avoid letting someone else’s monopoly get between you and your customer base?
• How human imperfection and variability can be turned into a positive selling point?
The audiobook version is almost as much as demonstration of these principles as a discussion of them. Rather than bringing in professional narrators, the authors opt to read it themselves. While this doesn’t come across nearly as perfectly polished as Walter Dixon’s narration of the World Wide Raveor Sean Pratt’s narration of the New Rules of Marketing and PR 2.0, opting to read this book themselves was the right choice to authentically present these principles and this material.
In conclusion, to paraphrase liberally from the Entertainer, a song by my own troubadour of choice, if you want to be more than just a serenader in another long-haired band and avoid being commoditized, a.k.a. “put in the back in the discount rack like another can of beans,” read or listen to this book. While I may never be a fan of the Grateful Dead, any doubt that I had about being a fan ofHubspot or David Meerman Scott is gone. Rock on!
(This book review was originally posted on the website of my former employer, Creative Energy. Founded by Tony Treadway, Sam Barnett, and Teresa Treadway, Creative Energy is a full service marketing agency and a leading national authority on Business-to-Business Foodservice Marketing. )