If Jerry Garcia was alive today he’d probably be laughing (and probably lighting a spliff…yes, those of you my age will agree) that a business marketing book is hailing Grateful Dead’s decisions asmarketing lessons to learn from. HA! Grateful Dead! So anti-business, anti-establishment in the 1960’s!

We thought their music was ahead of its time. Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History by David Meerman Scott points out their marketing methods were also ahead of their time. ReadWriteWeb’s blog post highlights the marketing lessons with great videos of the band (c’mon – it’s a hot August day, take a minute to listen & learn).  Libraries particularly, take heed.  Mind you, public libraries probably shouldn’t tell their boards that these ideas are from Grateful Dead, unless of course some board members were rockers in the 60’s/70’s.

Consider these marketing lessons:

  1. Rethink industry – and, I’d add here, – profession assumptions; assume NOTHING
  2. Use a memorable name and logo; not just for the library, but for services
  3. Turn customers into evangelists; we’ve encountered library members who’ve asked to go door-to-door telling people about the library
  4. Build a diverse team; different perspectives make a difference
  5. Free your content
  6. Experiment; ask, what’s the worst thing that could happen? usually, it’s pretty minor, so take the risk! that’s how we learn.
  7. Partner with other entrepreneurs; and not just cultural or educational agencies — technology shops! Tax accountants!
  8. Take your customers on an odyssey; something they’d never ask for or that would be identified in a “needs analysis” but that is conveyed by their behaviours & lives
  9. Do what you love; always always always

Thanks to Audrey Watters for a great blog post! It has me thinking (and I love the videos – great tunes).

Brian and I think Jerry would be laughing too. We’ve met several of the band members and they sort of grin when we ask about marketing.

But truth is that they treated fans with respect and made decisions that benefited fans rather than their record labels. That led to success. And as we write in the book, any business can learn from their ideas.


Comment by David Meerman Scott — August 4, 2010 @ 4:45 am