Lady Gaga leaves her hotel on Halloween wearing a Japanese inspired outfit and a huge seashell umbrella
Regardless of any opinions on Lady Gaga’s looks, fashion choices and singing, I believe her PR and Marketing teams are to be admired and their strategy used where it applies. She used to look rather normal, sing in clubs and have little to no audience. Then the people behind her image created this unusual, never seen before persona for her to use that took her to worldwide stardom in a few short months. She has millions of fans and followers singing her music, copying her dress code, but more importantly, buying her albums!
So what should you do to share in some of her PR success?
1. Differentiate wisely
It is hard to come up with something extremely new in the business world. Most services and products are already offered. Just as Lady Gaga is not the first woman to sing in unusual outfits. The key is to find something that appears unique, suits you and will in time be associated with you alone. Draw inspiration from a different culture, find a code that applies to your business strategy and build your presence and image around it. Just as Gaga did, as I am sure you’ve noticed there are a few similarities between her heavy make up and clothing and Asian theatre on one hand and circus woman-clowns on the other.
2. Build on the image you create
Just playing it wisely to get people interested is not enough. Everything new you add to the mix has to fit that initial tone you’ve set. Lady Gaga found something that works, the world seems to want it and keeps at it. I imagine her fans would disappear over night if she suddenly turned into a normal looking girl with lovey-dovey music videos. The identify with a certain set of symbols she promotes and they want them renewed with every song she releases.
A good musical example of change in style and appearance leading to losing all fans is Black Eyed Peas. None of their original fans is still a fan of the band. In their case, it was not a huge loss as they got replaced by a lot more mainstream music loving fans. But in most cases, rebuilding and entire customer base is extremely difficult.
3. Make your loyal customers feel special
Lady Gaga does a lot for her fans. They’re not just fans, they are “Little Monsters”. They have their own greeting code and one of them gets to go out for drinks with her after concerts. She even got a tattoo to show her appreciation, which is now copied by her fans who want to show their deep admiration for the music star. They definitely feel very special and important!
Loyal customers, like fans, are extremely important for any business. First, they are return buyers, second, they recommend your products or services to people they know and third, they will support what you do and help in any way they can: customer reviews, taking surveys, offering feedback, testing new products. All this leads to extremely valuable information for future development ideas.
4. When customers take the initiative, support them
Most fan powered actions remain at that level – they are fan powered, the stars rarely get involved or recognize the effort. But Lady Gaga reacted differently and on the spot when her fans dedicated her a whole day, celebrating her music and wearing clothes inspired by her outfits. She thanked her Little Monsters publicly and her team was wise enough not to try and take control, just let people act freely and gather the rewards and growing popularity. She does the same with all Twitter fan powered streams reporting her every step.
When user/customer groups appear, businesses fear they might lose control. These groups are not bound by any marketing restrictions, they will publicly announce issues and problems in an attempt to get them solved. And let’s face it, in today’s online world control is merely an illusion. Instead of going into technicalities and how they’ve used your logo on their fan page, it’s better to work with them. Help them when problems appear and they will help you promote and test your products and services.
Moreover, hard core users will reach out and help others if they’ve ran into similar issues, they will get involved in comparisons and debates describing their experience with your company. It’s all the free publicity you can take!
5. Recognize the power of social media and use it to your advantage.
Having a blog, Twitter account or Facebook page is not at all uncommon. The trend to be involved in the social media phenomenon made sure a lot of companies got on board. But few use it wisely. Social media is a place for real conversations with customers. Not for talking at them!
Lady Gaga is on Facebook and she tweets every time she gets the chance. She makes it about her fans, her appreciation to them, their problems and what they need. It only makes sense to care about those who make you who you are. Fans make her millions and win her awards. Customers do the same for your business. So interacting with them, listening to them and finding out what they need is not just a good PR move, it’s mandatory. How else would you know what to do next, how to take your products and services at a new level.
Lady Gaga and the PR and marketing experts behind her did not invent the wheel. They just took what was best in the initial mechanism and used it to their advantage. It is not voodoo or rocket science, it is a just simple, common sense way to give credit where credit is due, concentrate on what’s important and stay true to your values and image. So why shouldn’t small businesses apply this strategy and make it work for them?