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5 Marketing Lessons From Justin Timberlake

marketing lessons justin timberlakeJustin Timberlake: that fine young gent has it all.

The incredibly successful career, the girl, the adoring fans, and even his own brand of tequila. Can things get any better for him?

One wonders. For about a millisecond. And then one carries on thinking about business, and life, and how on earth one will find time to market, and sell, and grow.

Could it be that if we stopped and analyzed how Justin has strategically developed his career, we’d find some key trends that can be applied to our own business? Even if our business has nothing to do with music? Or tequila? Or ‘bringing sexy back’?

As it turns out, we can indeed. Here are five of the top marketing strategies that we can take away from Justin Timberlake’s career.

Adapt, Adapt, Adapt

Having appealed to a younger market in his teens with NSync, Justin’s music has changed with age. The themes of the songs he sings have moved from cheesy-teen romance, to themes of marriage, breakups (post Britney Spears, remember?) and taking back the night.

And it has been strategic. When he launched as a solo artist, he knew his music would have to mature because his fan base would not be in their teens forever. He made a conscious decision to adapt.

How to apply this to your business: Don’t assume the people who follow you from day one will keep the same profile or lifestyle as your business grows. Continuously get to know your audience as your business develops.

Send out surveys, analyze comments on your site, and pay attention to who follows you on social media. The better you know your audience, the easier it is to create content for them. And adapting your products and services to their needs as their lives develop will do wonders for your business.

Take Ramit Sethi from iwillteachyoutoberich.com as an example. When he first launched his blog, he was offering financial advice alone. As he connected with his audience more, and as both he and they matured, he began offering products to help get a job, start a business, and most recently, start an online business.

He listened, adapted, and grew.

Engage Your Audience

Justin isn’t just an album-releasing machine. He takes his time between albums to grow his brand, and get closer to his fans.

As an example: for his recent single release for Not a Bad Thing, Justin led a campaign for the public to create and share a video that reflects the message of the song. Who doesn’t want to talk about how they fell in love? The campaign created empathy for the song that a release alone would never have achieved.

Before this, he was part of a marketing campaign with MasterCard where he released videos of how he surprised his fans in their daily lives. It not only supports the MasterCard brand, it makes him appear more accessible to his fans.

How to apply this to your business: If you have a blog, then add social media share buttons to each post so your audience doesn’t have to search for them.

This is supported, of course, by creating content that people are delighted to share. Articles with images are the easiest to share, especially with Pinterest and Instagram growing so rapidly.

Kissmetrics.com, for example, makes a point of creating infographics when they can because it statistically increases engagement.

How about delighting your paying clients by surprising them? Send them a gift or, as I once did, have food delivered to them before you start your consulting call. You could even give them a part of your service for free without them requesting it.

They’ll remember your gift and they’ll share on social media. So in exchange for the gift they’ll be helping you grow your business.

And finally, when you reference people in your post, send them a tweet or email telling them so with a link to the post. You’ll give them a reason to share it with their audience, thus growing your brand by association.

Don’t Work Alone

Collaboration with other artists has no doubt helped develop Justin’s career.  For his first album, he collaborated with Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, and released singles outside of his album with Snoop Dogg. But he didn’t stop there. His recent album saw him collaborating with Jay-Z.

Why was this move strategic? It made him a recognized name amongst the bigger artists in his industry. It also helped him grow his audience by appealing to people that may otherwise have only purchased music by the artists he collaborated with.

Fans of Jay-Z and Timbaland, for example, became fans of Justin by association.

Also by working with other artists, he mixed up his sound as they collaborated with their respective skills. Those artists were also able to achieve the same fan-outreach and diversity in music sound. It became a win:win marketing strategy.

How to apply this to your business: Joint ventures are a proven way to grow your audience.  The term can seem a little scary, but there are ways of taking the fear out of the process.

Start small by offering free webinars with businesses that offer complimentary services to you. For example, if you’re a copywriter, offer a webinar with a web designer. If you’re a freelance writer, offer a free webinar with a client-attraction specialist.

You’ll appeal to a wide range of people and grow your ‘fan’ base by cross-pollinating your audience.

Once you grow, you can create products and services that are joint ventures with the same people. Just like Brandgasm, which is a collaboration between The Middle Finger Project and Shatterbox.

The key here is to pick a partner with a brand that supports yours. If your brand focuses on relationship building, for example, but the brand of your partner talks only about sales and money, then it won’t be a good fit. It will also confuse your audience and make the marketing difficult.

Differentiate Yourself

For his recent double album release, instead of releasing both parts at once (like everyone traditionally does), Justin released the two parts separately. As a result, he had two different marketing campaigns for one album.

Whilst this meant double the work, double the promotion and double the effort, it also meant he was seen by fans twice rather than once. People who bought the first part and enjoyed it were more likely to buy the second. The success of the second part was built on the success of the first.

How to apply this to your business: Differentiating yourself is clearly important, but what’s also important is to keep people guessing over the long term. Experiment with different elements of your business to see what works for you.

For example, Copyblogger has turned off comments in their blog posts to drive social media engagement, whilst other sites like this have maintained comments in posts.

Marie Forleo only releases videos blogs when others in her niche have text-based posts. She also only releases her flagship product annually, whilst others have constant product releases.

These are pretty big brands, granted, but that doesn’t mean smaller brands cannot experiment with differentiation.

For example, instead of releasing new products individually, consider only have a membership site where your products are released and charge an incremental monthly fee depending on access to products. Or alternatively, offer a guarantee of an email response within 24 hours, like Danny did at the start of Firepole Marketing.

That was an interesting move by Danny. It reflected his accessibility, as well as his commitment to serving customers and sticking to his promises.

As a result, even if he never offers that again, the audience that engaged with him at the very beginning will remember this and associate those feelings of trust with Danny in the long term.

Nice job, Danny!

Make Yourself Consistently Visible

Justin is constantly on the same shows: Jimmy Fallon, Ellen Degeneres, and on UK TV shows. He also promotes not only when he has an album release, but at every given opportunity. He appears on TV shows that are fun and entertaining, which is also a reflection of his brand.

Of course, it’s a given for a star to constantly promote, and consistent promotion is vital for your business too.

How to apply this to your business: Nurture your social media profiles – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the rest by being consistently present. Posting when you feel like it isn’t a strategy. But posting in a structured, strategic manner, is.

Make your presence on social media portals consistent. Set time aside for it 2-3 days a week and stick with it week over week. Over time, your reputation will build to the benefit of your business.

Take part in Twitter chats. Be present in Facebook groups outside of your own businesses and give advice based on your expertise. This not only gives away value, but it keeps your brand visible to your audience and beyond. Repetitive views increase trust.

Go to forums like Firepole Marketing’s Beacons Elite, Quora or Reddit and be useful by giving advice in answer to questions asked. It could result in clients, but at the very least, people will see you and associate the value you have provided.

Ready to Market Yourself Like a Pop Star?

Stars like Justin Timberlake often look like they’re playing a totally different game. In reality, they apply the same marketing strategies other businesses do. Yes, they have more money to spend and collaborate with bigger, glitzier brands, but the marketing principles they apply are the same for all businesses.

What one strategy from Justin will you apply to marketing your business?  Share in the comments below.

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