Entrepreneur

4 customer connection lessons from the live music industry

(Editor’s note: Dan Teree is president & COO of Ticketfly. He submitted this story to VentureBeat.)

The traditional music business has traveled a bumpy road as it has adapted to new technology – so it might not seem the obvious place for other businesses to learn lessons. But hidden amongst the struggles, there are some valuable takeaways.The live music industry, in particular, is seeing great success leveraging social media to build … well, audience. We’ve come up with four lessons that can be applied almost universally.

Make it emotional – People have been sharing music since long before mix tapes were the ultimate expression of love and affection. Music has an edge in social media because it’s inherently social. People go to concerts together.

Take the Grammys, a traditional name that harnessed the emotional connection of music through their social media campaign for the 2011 awards ceremony. Their MusicMapper app let fans assign pictures and notes to a specific geographic location rich with music memories, and visitors to that spot could view the notes using augmented reality. (Personally, I can’t think of anything more emotionally relevant than tagging the spot where I felt the stirrings of first love while Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” played in the background.)

Other companies can learn from this by uncovering the true emotional resonance of their brand – not what it can do for the consumer, but how it makes the consumer feel and why. Then implement interactive programs to build on that emotional connection.

Have a true fan club – Lots of companies track the number of Facebook fans and think in terms of the “cost per fan”. But the more important question is: what is the fan getting in return?

Live event promoters know that the way to engage a fan is to provide real-time opportunities for special treatment – whether that means texting a band at a show to get better seats, or a chance to meet the artist backstage, or free merchandise. Lady Gaga and Virgin Mobile teamed up to invite fans to send text messages, which appeared on a large screen above the stage.

Other businesses with captive audiences of fans could follow this model. Airlines could build loyalty with on-the-plane seat upgrades or free cocktails. And when was the last time you went to your favorite restaurant, only to be ignored, given the crappy table by the bathroom, or worse, made to punch a lame frequent-user card for a 10 percent discount?

If I’m a regular, I want to be given special treatment, like the valued fan club member that I am.

Say something… – Many social media pundits talk about creating compelling content to drive your social strategy. The lesson is: Find out what interests your consumers, and then give them a reason to read it. Don’t just post self-serving messages about your goods and their new features and how you’ve added more spice to your special sauce.

Using trivia contests is a good example of relevant emotional resonance. Many live music venues are posting weekly trivia questions on their Facebook fan pages that, when answered correctly during the ticket purchase process, give the consumer access to discounted tickets or premium items. Trivia is particularly useful because you’re more likely to be rewarding a real fan.

…And say it real – Technology is shrinking the distance between companies and consumers by allowing two-way dialogues in real-time. This is no time to be fake. Consumers can sniff out inauthentic, lame attempts to engage them.

Make sure your front line staff really gets it and also knows what you’re saying online must coordinate with the in-person experience. If you’re marketing a hip-hop show, you better not have a Barry Manilow purist writing your copy. As a case in point, a major wireless carrier once ran a St. Patrick’s Day promotion featuring Green Day – because they sound Irish with that name?  Don’t insult your customers with inauthentic attempts to be relevant.

In sum, the live event industry knows how to harness the emotional appeal of its product, build true fan clubs, and communicate with them using content that is both compelling and authentic. Sounds like the music industry might have gotten some things right, after all.


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