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3 Legendary Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead

3 Legendary Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead Blog Feature

Bob Ruffolo

Founder & CEO, Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, Recipient of Comparably’s Best CEO ’17

January 25th, 2016 min read

Marketing-Lessons-from-the-Grateful-Dead.jpgThe Grateful Dead is one of the most iconic bands in history. Even if you can’t recall a single song they’ve recorded or you don’t know what they look like -- you know the name and the legend.

Against conventional wisdom and the advice that everyone was eager to send their way, the band found unlikely success by breaking all of the rules that other bands follow.

They had a different approach in mind -- one that greatly resembles today’s inbound marketing methodology.

They had a mailing list long before the email list was hailed as the most valuable marketing asset, gave away free content when blogs weren’t even an idea; What’s more, they put their fans first.

They truly understood how to attract an audience, keep their attention, convert them into lifelong fans, and delight them.

In Marketing Lessons From the Grateful Dead, world-renowned marketer, David Meerman Scott, and HubSpot’s founder and CEO, Brian Halligan set out to study this groundbreaking band and share the marketing gems that led to their success.

While there are many lessons that businesses can learn from in this book, we’ve condensed them down to the major takeaway points. The following are 3 most important marketing lessons that brands can learn from The Grateful Dead.

#1. Create a New Business Model

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this book is that The Grateful Dead was immensely successful because they didn’t do what all other bands did. They created their own business model.

Most bands, then and now, focus on selling albums. Record sales become their primary income source, which in turn affects their marketing strategy.

Rather than focusing on selling albums, the Grateful Dead focused on selling concert tickets -- selling an experience

The Grateful Dead created a concert experience that was unmatched by any other band. While their competitors were altering their sound to sell more records, built a revenue stream that didn’t compromise their art. They created a cult-like fan base that carried its band to superstardom.

To do this in your industry, first, you have to look at where everyone is competing the hardest and where the revenue streams are.

Where are the opportunities that get overlooked?

A classic example is how Netflix put Blockbuster out of business.

Originally Netflix offered a monthly subscription service that delivered DVD rentals to your home. They had some success, but couldn’t gain significant market share in an area that Blockbuster completely dominated.

It wasn’t until they offered live streaming, and later dropped DVDs altogether, that they created the model that would ultimately change the industry.

#2. Cut Out the Middleman

Inbound marketing gives individuals and businesses an opportunity to cut out the middleman and market straight to their target customers. Interestingly, The Grateful Dead was doing this at a time when it was believed to be impossible....

Keep Going! 

In the full synopsis, I'll dive into how the Grateful Dead marketed experiences, not a product, gave away content, and cut out the middleman by developing its own mailing list.

To start diving in now, click "keep reading" below. 

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