How Rock Stars Will Forever Change the World of Marketing

by Mack Collier

Last year Nielsen surveyed 28,000 internet users to discover what sources they trusted.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that the winner was Earned Media (media created about a source by someone other than the source) at 92%.  The second result at 70% was customer reviews online.  Paid Media, media that a source pays for to promote itself, fell in trust down to 47%, falling by 24%, 20% and 25% yearly since 2009.  Earned Media, especially Word of Mouth, is up 18% since 2007.

In other words, if someone else is talking about a brand, we trust them, but if the brand is talking about itself, we don’t.  This should come as a surprise to no one.

The disconnect is that brands know this as well, yet they continue to spend billions every year on advertising and marketing in an effort to get the attention of a group of people that have little to no interest in paying attention to them.  Brands seek to grow by acquiring new customers, and they create marketing strategies built around this goal.  But getting the attention of people that have little to no loyalty to your brand (as well as little to no interest in what you have to say) is a very expensive game.  For decades, the marketing idea has been to accept that most people won’t see your message the first time, so you just repeat it constantly until they do, and then pray that it resonates.

Rock stars play a different marketing game.

Rock stars actually have the exact same marketing goal as brands, they also want to acquire new customers.  But rock stars don’t focus on acquiring new customers via advertising and promotion, ie Paid Media, they focus on acquiring new customers via the efforts of their existing customers.  And specifically, a small subset of their existing customers, they focus on connecting with their biggest fans. Rock stars find the people that are the most fanatically passionate about them, and then connect with them and empower them to market the rock star to other fans.


The benefits are obvious:  Rock stars are connecting with the group that has the most incentive to positively promote the rock star to other potential customers.  How many rock stars paid CBS $4M for a 30-second spot in this year’s Super Bowl?  Exactly, rock stars don’t have to throw money at crappy advertising that’s designed to gain the attention of people that are purposely trying to avoid the brand’s marketing messages.  They shift control of their marketing messages to the very people that customers trust the most: Their fans.

This is how rock stars are going to change marketing forever.  Rock stars have always built their careers around remaining connected to their biggest fans.  Brands have built themselves and their marketing strategies around gaining market share by acquiring new customers and effectively building the largest promotional megaphone.  That model worked well in the 50s when there were three media sources, the newspaper, television and radio.  Then, if you could afford to get your message distributed via those three sources, you won.

Today, the game has changed.  Instead of 3 media sources, here are 300,000,000, and 99.99999% of them are customer-driven.  Anyone that has a smartphone in their pocket has a promotional megaphone that’s more trustworthy than anything the average brand can create.

This is exactly why I wrote Think Like a Rock Star, to help brands learn to navigate a marketing world that rock stars conquered decades ago.  How much differently would the world of marketing look if brands didn’t focus on acquiring new customers via advertising, but instead connected directly with and delighted their biggest and most passionate fans?

It’s a question that your brand had better figure out the answer to quickly, because that’s where we are headed, like it or not.  Because there is big money to be made by embracing your biggest fans.  That’s another lesson that rock stars learned decades ago.

When will your brand wake up?

Lisa Trenton February 11, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Wow Mark, you really hit the nail on the head. I couldn’t agree more that “rockstars” as you call them will completely change marketing forever. It’s really going to get down to where pinpointing those customers becomes so strategic and specific that Super Bowl Ads should be a clear indicator of companies that DON’T know how to market. Hah! I’m curious what you think about Google Authorship and if you think that ties into your Rockstar theory since verified authors can have a credibility and brand behind them of people who trust them?

Mack Collier February 11, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Hey Lisa! When I talk about Think Like a Rock Star, some people misinterpret that to mean focus on yourself. Be the rock star brand!

That’s the last thing I mean. What rock stars do so successfully is they embrace and empower their fans. They look for ways to put the spotlight on their fans, to shift control to them. As a result, they literally turn their fans into marketing machines for the rock star.

But that only happens because the rock stars are not treating their fans as marketing channels, they are treating them as people that they love. Because they do.

If we ever reach the point where brands have as much loyalty and respect and LOVE for their fans as rock stars do, the world of marketing as we know it today will be replaced by something totally different and totally amazing.

Lisa Trenton February 19, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Hah, I love it. Thanks for the increased clarification on the “rockstar respect” idea. I get where you’re coming from now. Your engagement here on the site with commenters and people talking to you is incredible. Makes it a lot of fun to read more and participate. Thanks Mack!

Mack Collier February 19, 2013 at 6:04 pm

You’re welcome Lisa, and thanks again!

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