What Lollapalooza Can Teach Us About Marketing

One-to-one marketing doesn't work, and we should probably stop pretending that it does.   The fallacy of one-to-one marketing is that a brand can speak directly to a consumer in a targeted, efficient manner, and be successful.  The fact is, you can't.  You cannot be efficient talking to a target of one. 

What is true is that community marketing works, and leveraging your community to evangelize your brand is an effective, efficient model, which has been proven in this age of social media.  What's more, marketing with a community-oriented message that packages offerings together can work very well!

Marketers love the phrase "word-of-mouth," which was previously defined as "the stuff that we can't track, but hope our customers are saying about us."  Word-of mouth was the Moby Dick of marketing land until the Internet, which provided true avenues for witnessing this process in action.  Social media has taken word-of-mouth to new heights by providing a scalable way for small groups of consumers to speak to one another about the brands, services and companies they enjoy.   These days marketers can suggest a message and then watch the sentiment and tone of consumer reactions, thereby understanding if that message resonates and drives action. 



Marketing to communities works. The entertainment industry does it well, with books, movies and music consistently tapping into influencers and targeted groups of like-minded individuals.   In the music space, festivals are the hot trend, providing a pre-packaged way for consumers to find artists they like alongside artists they may not be familiar with but might find of interest.  That is why brands like Lollapalooza, Coachella and Bonnaroo are successful  -- as a highly merchandized and profitable solution for reaching a targeted audience. When will we see this model applied to other kids of goods and services as a way to save time and money and leverage marketing relationships?

Is it inevitable that we'll see authors start to sell their books in packages?  Amazon already tries to upsell you in this way, so why wouldn't the authors do it themselves?  A digital book festival where consumers can purchase any of nine or 10 prepackaged book combos for use on their iPad or Kindle could be successful. 

What about in CPG?  Some brands do co-op marketing partnerships with other related brands, but why not offer a special aisle in the grocery store that specifically offers like-minded products in packages at a discount to a consumer?  If I can buy a can of diced tomatoes with a package of pasta and some sauce from brands I may not have bought on my own, is that worth it to me? What if some garlic bread were packaged in as well?

I've often wondered why car companies don't do this as well. Why not offer me a brand new BMW 3-series with three new iPads for my family, along with a three-piece suit from Neiman Marcus?  Why not package together the image of a BMW with technology and fashion?  At the price you pay for the car, you'd think an extra bump in costs for these additions would be acceptable. This would also help car companies to better understand consumer motivations -- by seeing what prepackaged items pushed buyers over the hump from consideration to purchase.

Marketing to a community with packaged offerings is not necessarily a new idea, but it is one that's gaining steam in the era of financial conservatism coupled with social sharing.  People like to save money, and they love to tell people about it.  That's why there are videos of teenage girls on YouTube with their post-shopping "hauls" and a thousand "deal of the day" services emerging every week.  Everyone wants to hear about price and value.

How do you handle community marketing?  What tactics do you see that work well?

4 comments about "What Lollapalooza Can Teach Us About Marketing".
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  1. Rick Monihan from None, May 18, 2011 at 11:41 a.m.

    I've always viewed "word of mouth" and "viral" to be roughly similar. You don't really know how to make it work for you, but you sure know when it does!

    Marketing to communities, of course, isn't too dissimilar to how TV is bought and sold. Demographic breaks are very imprecise "communities". Luckily, these imprecise measures can be made more precise through a variety of means such as marketing to moms, the spanish speaking community, men, etc. by purchasing programming that is geared toward them.

    Everytime I hear how imprecise and impractical TV advertising is - I will remember this article. I know you've outlined concepts beyond basic advertising, but the point you make is applicable.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, May 18, 2011 at 12:07 p.m.

    Packaging: Deconstructing menus, dressing on the side, have it your way, paying for things you don't want or need or available in your area. WOM: On a local level on the streets, I usually found that those who counted on WOM and did not want to invest in public messages were the first to advertise going out of business. Then again, I cannot begin to tell you how many Edward Jones offices swore they would never advertise because they didn't believe in it. (It was for a major financial promotion.) WOM.

  3. Pamela Tournier from Focus: Productivity, Inc., May 18, 2011 at 12:53 p.m.

    Shared tastes do not necessarily make a community. What makes marketing to communities work is shared experience. Lollapalooza works because it creates a group high from the community experience. It's as much about discovering new friends as it is about discovering new artists.

    Hard to duplicate that group high in an end-aisle display, or even online (although MMOG does it well). Simply packaging some pasta sauce with wine and cheese, or bundling a new car together with some shiny toys liked by other owners of that car or its close competitors -- nice idea, but won't do the trick. Word of mouth is all about unpredicted discovery, being first to find out and first to spread the word. It's that "Who knew?" element that sends it viral -- and no amount of pre-packaging will produce that.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, May 18, 2011 at 5:56 p.m.

    After I reread this, my comments should have said that businesses have suffered that adhere to WOM only. Recommendations are the bomb.

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