When Beyoncé released her fifth LP last week, the Internet went crazy. Just three hours after its release, 80,000 copies had been bought, and iTunes was overloaded. Within 24 hours, the number reached 430,000. At the 48-hour mark, downloads totaled 500,000. To put things in perspective, dlisted.com noted Miley Cyrus sold 270,000 of her latest in its first week, Katy Perry sold 286,000, and Lady Gaga sold 258,000. And they had major marketing campaigns behind them.
Beyoncé? Nada. Queen B skipped a campaign, generating an insane amount of buzz. Sure, she has millions of fans to spread the word for her, but we think her success can be attributed to a few additional factors – and important lessons for other brands:
1. She took a risk
Beyoncé took a big risk when she decided to forego a traditional multi-million dollar album launch campaign. But the bold, first-of-its-kind move resulted in major word-of-mouth marketing – arguably the most valuable kind. While there were more than 5,000 tweets per minute about the so-bad-you-have-to-watch-it Sharknado flick, there were 5,300 per minute about Beyoncé’s album.
The lesson: Don’t be afraid to take smart risks and stand out from the crowd.
2. She spoke directly to fans
In a time when consumers want to interact directly with brands, Beyoncé hit the nail on the head in turning away from a launch campaign. Rather than distribute her messaging via a third party, she opted to simply make it available – a gift from her to her fans.
“I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it,” she said in a press release after the album hit iTunes. “I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I felt like I didn’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.”
The lesson: Your audiences want to hear from you, not a filtered version of you. Provide them a way to interact with you via your website, blog, social media, or all of the above, and reach out to them directly, too. (Here’s another example of Beyoncé connecting with fans.)
3. She remained true to herself
Beyoncé’s work has evolved, and this album doesn’t have an obvious hit single. Rather than force one (or more) singles and optimize revenue by releasing them one by one, as artists typically do, Beyoncé released the entire LP at once to preserve the integrity of her work.
The lesson: Be authentic. Do what makes sense for your brand and what it stands for, not what you think people will want or buy. Today’s discerning audiences will see right through it.
4. She relied heavily on visuals
Recognizing that she – and most people – form stronger connections with visuals, Beyoncé complemented the 14 tracks on her new album with 17 videos. That, combined with our decreasing attention spans and the online video explosion, formed the perfect recipe for this album’s success.
“I see music,” Beyoncé said in her press release. “It’s more than just what I hear. When I’m connected to something, I immediately see a visual or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion, a memory from my childhood, thoughts about life, my dreams or my fantasies. And they’re all connected to the music.”
The lesson: Incorporate visuals into your communications to bring your story to life and capture your audience’s attention.
Want to read more? Learn how Beyoncé’s husband has proven to be a brilliant marketer, or give us a call to discuss ways to make your brand stand out.