The Grateful Dead: Against The Grain

Alan Belniakbusiness, Marketing5 Comments

“There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert” – First used in the liner notes of the Grateful Dead album Europe ’72

If you’ve ever went to a Dead show (saying “seeing them in concert” just doesn’t seem right), then you know what this means.  I was fortunate to see them once in 1995, and it was one hell of a time.  I had been a moderate fan up until then, but really got into the vibe of the band itself.  Sure the music was mellow, fun, jammy.  What I couldn’t get over (as a super “type-A” kind of guy) was how laid back they were, how carefree, and how they simply let (nay, encouraged) fans to record their music and share it.  “Won’t they be missing out on revenue?” I asked and wondered, among other things.

Yeah, I guess.  But look where it got them.  Simply mention the phrase “The Dead” and people instantly know what you’re talking about.  Brand Awareness?  Check.  Their music was easily findable, from permissible bootleg cassette tapes to CDs.  Distribution?  Check.  Their fans were (and are) their biggest promoters and advertisers.  Advertising on a budget?  Check.  What always surprised me was that The Dead swam upriver and went against the grain.  The executed against traditional marketing and distribution channels.  Yet they still found success their own way.

Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead

Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead

David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan set out to document this very phenomenon in their new book, Marketing Lessons from The Grateful Dead.  David and Brian extract real-life marketing lessons from one of the most iconic brands in history.  The Dead bucked the trend with distribution and promotion; so, too, can marketers and brand managers today with the power of digital media, viral marketing, and word-of-mouth.  If you’re ready to ethink traditional industry assumptions, or turn your customers into pure brand evangelists, then pick up this book.  If you’re looking to cut out the middle man and go direct to the customer, and provide such an incredible experience that you build a huge, loyal following, pick up this book.

To follow along, the Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead conversation is happening on Facebook (I guess this would make you a DeadFace, instead of a Deadhead?).

I look forward to reading this, front to back, and making some great notes in the margins.  I’ll probably cue up some music to go along with it…  Wo, oh, what I want to know, how does the song go…