The young singer had only been on stage for two songs when she stopped for the first time to talk to the 30,000 fans who came out to see her.
“Thank you so much for coming to my concert tonight,” she said with a touch of humility that came across as genuine even from the massive stage.
The audience roared.
She continued. “Could it be that, after only two songs, I’ve fallen in love with you?”
The roar grew even louder.
“I do love you”. She smiled, and leaned forward from the stage as if she was about to fall into the arms of her fans.
“I love you like I love sparkly dresses.” The music began, and Taylor Swift launched into another one of her hit songs. That was the scene Saturday night at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival in Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Corny? Sure. But watching Taylor Swift in action teaches us a few vital lessons about how to build a solid brand and a lasting connection with your customers and fans. She didn’t become the biggest-selling artist in the history of digital downloads without doing a few things right.
1. Honesty. Customers today can see through traditional advertising BS. They can smell a fake. Honesty wins. Brands that communicate honestly with their customers are far more likely to turn those average customers into raving fans. Taylor Swift knows about honesty, and has developed a reputation for writing songs that reflect her life. And it seems to be working. ”The more personal my songs were, the more closely people could relate to them,” she told the UK’s “Daily Mail“.
2. Speak Their Language. Taylor Swift’s biggest fans are young females and the parents of those same girls, who appreciate the clean image that Swift lives up to. So when Taylor says things like “I love you like I love sparkly dresses”, she’s speaking the language of her fans. When she writes songs about boys who mistreated her, she’s speaking the language of her fans. Do you know your fans well enough to speak to them about things they care about in words that they would use themselves? Are you brave enough, like Taylor Swift is, to talk about things like sparkly dresses?
3. Involve Yourself In Their Causes. In the same manner as speaking the language of their customers, great brands know about the causes their customers care about and they get invovled in them. Taylor Swift has immersed herself in campaigns to protect young children from on-line predators and to combat internet sex crimes.
4. Live Up To The Image. That seems to be so very hard for some brands. BP spent years working on an environmentally conscious image makeover before becoming the world’s environmental scapegoat with the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Taylor Swift has so far done a masterful job of living up to her image. She has never been accused of not being the clean-living person she presents herself as, and that further endears her to the fans (and parents) who love her.
Taylor Swift is easy to criticize for being fluff. She’s an easy target thanks to her lack of “edge”. She is, however, incredibly talented. Even the New York Times called her “one of pop’s finest songwriters” who is “more in touch with her inner-life than most adults”. Not bad for a kid who has yet to turn 21.
The girl with Ms. Swift and me in the picture above is my neighbor’s 10 year-old daughter at her very first concert. She was pretty excited to meet her idol in person.