Beyoncé may be one of the greatest icons of our time, but she’s done more than create phenomenal music. She’s all but disrupted the traditional album release cycle.
The Queen and her team are some of the fiercest product marketers in the entertainment industry. She plans album releases with razor-fine precision and each one is more successful and more buzz-worthy than the last.
Entertainment marketers can learn a lot about what it means to launch a product from Beyoncé’s album releases. We’ve distilled it into five distinct steps.
1. Develop a rock solid brand identity.
For a public figure like Beyoncé, brand identity encompasses everything from her aesthetic to her music to her choreography to all her public facing interactions with the press, on her website, and via social media handles. There’s an inimitable “Bey” quality of everything she does. Beyoncé’s brand is so solid, her fans know exactly who she is.
Having a clear brand identity evokes a certain emotion among your target user group. Whatever you’re trying to sell has to contribute to the overall sentiment of your brand and delight your audience. That’s how you get brand advocates: when your audience loves your brand, they’re on their way to being lifelong fans.
2. Understand your community.
When you get to Beyoncé’s level of mega-stardom, you don’t have to worry about attracting a new audience or retaining the one you currently have. But if you’re a new entertainment brand or product, you have to find ways to understand your current audience. This could be through qualitative means -- surveying or interviewing your customers, for example -- or through quantitative means like leveraging user behavior analytics. If you study what’s working well among your current consumers, you can use those insights to inform marketing campaigns targeted at a different audience.
3. Engage with your community.
Products and brands -- especially in the entertainment industry -- do not develop in a vacuum. You have to develop and constantly reinforce your relationship with your audience. You have to inspire brand loyalty through engagement and communication.
Beyoncé acknowledges her “Beyhive” with subtle references to them on social media and during concerts. She’s present where her audience is: on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. And when she dropped her sixth solo album, “Lemonade,” she couldn’t have achieved the virality that she did without the help of her fans and their dedicated hashtag. By developing a relationship with your audience through social media, you can turn them into loyal fan-advocates who can spread your brand throughout their networks.
4. Build momentum.
If you have a product launch in the near future, don’t just rely on press releases to spread the word. Start upping the interest in your brand by building momentum in creative ways.
If you had paid attention, you would know that Beyoncé didn’t drop “Lemonade” without warning. She had been setting up for this release almost six months in advance. Instead of going with the conventional album release cycle, Beyoncé took her marketing campaign to the next level.
She released the “Formation” music video the day before the Super Bowl, and on the day of, she blew away the audience during the half-time show and announced the Formation World Tour. A month later, she announced her new clothing line and a month after that, “Lemonade” premiered on HBO--just one day before one of the most anticipated TV season premieres, Game of Thrones.
Importantly, Beyoncé chose to build momentum for her album release around events that her audience already cared about.
5. Take risks.
Sometimes the best way to surprise your brand’s existing audience (and catch the attention of a new one) is to do something unexpected. When Beyoncé released her first “visual album” back in 2013, without any PR, both the unconventional form of her album and its unconventional released stirred so much interest that Billboard ranked it best album of the year, despite being released in mid-December.
Sure, not all of us can be world superstars like Beyoncé. But the next time you launch a marketing campaign for a new product or to build awareness for a new entertainment brand, take a page out of Beyoncé’s book and focus on your fans.