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Sometimes, the best thing a brand can do is get the hell out of the way.
Today’s raving fans have access to legions of followers and friends who can make the uncool cool and make the successful fail. Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool when one tweet or Facebook post can influence thousands of people simultaneously. No longer can a bad move survive long enough at the box office to recoup its costs. Today’s wildfire word-of-mouth means word about a dud movie spreads the moment the first showing lets out. By day two, the studio knows they have a bomb on their hands and there is nothing they can do about it.
Perenially uncool 80′s pop duo Hall & Oates are riding a word-of-mouth resurgence, and one of the wisest moves they made was getting out of the way and letting their fans loose.
Their manager, Jonathon Wolfson, told billboard magazine that “some bands get in the way of themselves”. They try too hard to manage the exposure of their brand, only allowing themselves to play hip venues and only granting interviews with vogue writers for underground publications.
Wolfson has taken the opposite approach to Hall & Oates, bringing their soulful pop to films, animations, on-line projects, commercials, and tribute albums. They’ve been featured in everything from trendsetting movies to the home shopping channel. Fans are fans. Some appreciate the artistry of Hall & Oates and some soak up the kitschy nostalgia. Whatever. It all works for Daryl and John.
As a result, the band can play “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart and at the same do “The Rachael Ray Show“. They’ve even done Howard Stern’s radio show on Sirius and revealed dirt about their 80′s heyday and sexual exploits with groupies.
Kids who grew up with Hall & Oates have now come of age, and now their influence is being felt all over again. Gym Class Heros, The Killers, Fall Out Boy, and country singer Jimmy Wayne have all named Hall & Oates as musical influences, adding to their growing street credibility… a street cred they never had, even in the 80′s.
How can you “get out of the way” and let your brand’s buzz grow?
1. Use a tool like Google to alert you to mentions of your brand. Watch the trending. When you see forums or blogs mention you, read them. Understand them. Take part in the conversation. It is going to happen anyway, with or without you.
2. Recognize who your audience is. Kids who were weaned on Hall & Oates are now making today’s hit songs. Even though music critics might think Hall & Oates are uncool and over the hill, there is a hidden generation of 30-somethings who loved them. What the critics think is cool and what true tastemakers find cool can be vastly different.
3. Tap into Twitter. Do regular searches of your brand’s name to see what people are saying about you. Look for ways to tap into the buzz. If you notice your brand is popping up with a specific group of people, acknowledge them and feed them. For example, if you see that your brand is popular with Trekkies, consider showing up at their next convention or sponsoring something they do.
4. Mine your database. Invite early trendsetters into your club, pull back the curtain, and get to know them. Make them feel special, because they are. They’ll help spread your brand’s virus for you.
5. Be honest. Be real. Nothing else works today. By going on Howard Stern to talk about having sex with groupies in the same room as each other, Hall & Oates revealed a real side of them that you never saw back in their day. That real human revelation might have been dangerous at one time, but today honesty earns you valuable points with a generation who has a bullshit meter on high alert.