The release of Beyonce’s latest album, “Beyonce,” just after midnight on Thursday is news only to those who may have found themselves in a parallel universe last week. The album sold 365,000 copies in the U.S. on its first day out. What is news is that “Beyonce” was released only on iTunes and marketed exclusively on social media.
While many knew that “Beyonce” was in the works, no one knew about the release, which Beyonce announced with a single word, “Surprise!” The announcement appeared to her more than 8 million Instagram followers and instantly went viral.
Few content producers are in a position to sell hundreds of thousands of copies of their work on the first day (or ever, for that matter), but there are a number of lessons to take away from Beyonce’s marketing strategy:
- Traditional marketing is history. The conventional wisdom of traditional marketing has been turned on its head. Not long ago success was dependent on spending massive amounts of money to get the word out. Nowhere was this more true than in the music industry, and, OK, the movie industry. Now, you can reach your target audience much more efficiently, not to mention more cost effectively, via social media. Beyonce certainly has the clout to compel Columbia Records to market and promote her albums, but she didn’t use it. That being said, the fundamentals of memorable marketing still apply!
- Think outside the box. You may hear this all of the time, but it’s true. People like the unexpected. What’s more it’s what is needed these days to distinguish you and your content from the clutter. The upside of technology – it’s easy to use – is also its downside – everyone is using it. Think of new and interesting ways to use technology to your advantage. Another benefit? If your approach is truly creative, people will write about the approach itself, in turn generating even more publicity.
- Enlist your friends, family and fans. You most likely have a core group of people who can help you to spread the word. Have your friends, reach out to their friends, and so on, and so on, and…. You get the idea. You may not have Katy Perry and Lady Gaga on hand (like Beyonce did) to Tweet about your release, but you too now have access to thousands and probably hundreds of thousands of people through your social network.
- Go multi-platform. “Beyonce” includes 14 songs and 17 videos. the album was released first on iTunes, to be followed by its release on DVD and CD this Friday. A multi-platform approach has several advantages. One, it offers more ways to consume (and sell) content. Second, it provides a way to release much more content without entailing many more costs. If you’re releasing a song, for example, it doesn’t take that much more effort to produce a video showing how the song was recorded and produced in the studio. Third, you can charge more for it.
The New York Times compared the release of “Beyonce” with the spring release of Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience.” JT followed a much more traditional marketing approach with commercials, a publicity tour, etc. In The Times’ words, Beyonce’s release “showed the marketing value of no marketing.”