Taylor Swift: Marketing Mastermind

I firmly believe that Taylor Swift is someone I could be friends with. Friends, or mortal enemies. Either way I love her, and would very much welcome an inclusion in her narrative. Just had to get that off my chest.

Despite the fact I have had Taylor’s album on pre-order since it was announced, and eagerly await its arrival on my doorstep later this morning, Tay’s songs aren’t all that draw me in. Sure, I will always have a special place in my heart for both ‘Fearless’ and ‘1989’ (especially Shake It Off, the drunk anthem of my 2014), but that isn’t the thing that has most stood out to me over the years. The thing that HAS stood out to me is simple, and often overlooked: the genius of her marketing. Despite googling many-a-time, I am none the wiser as to whether efforts are a result of the well oiled Taylor Swift machine/team, or are the ideas of the woman herself. Either way, it works. And, below, I’ve outlined what we can all learn from the lady that gave us, well, everything she has, lyrically speaking. All hail.

 

Own your narrative
As Don Draper once said, “if you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” And oh, Taylor has managed this one well. While the rest of celeb-dom was celebrating the ‘death of her career’ (as if) Tay took the opportunity to fade from the spotlight, first changing the narrative by causing everyone in her fandom to ask “where the hell is she?” And secondly by returning with a bang, flipping the core takedown message – one of being a snake – on its head.  Now, Taylor sells snake merch, she had snakes in her comeback video, she’s made snakes a part of her brand and is profiting from her haters. The sting in the insult has gone. And Taylor, as a brand and as a person, has won.

Understand the issue with overexposure
As I’ve said, I adore T-Swizzle. Her music is catchy, her lyrics outline many experiences I can relate to, and her brand is fun. But even I got sick of her for a while there, back when she was appearing on everything, at all times, for a long time. It was too much, and my admiration of her turned slowly to ‘ugh.’ This is a risk for anything popular – overexposure is a curse. The way to combat this, as a marketer, is to take a step back for a while. Which is exactly what Taylor did. You can even hear her on the infamous Kimye call saying ‘I’m this close to overexposure.’ And she was. And what did she do to get people back on side? Disappear. It worked.

Utilise your contacts
A hard and fast business rule is ‘utilise your contacts.’ Basically meaning, speak with those you’ve worked with, keep the connection alive, see what you can do to help each other out, and to bolster your reputation. Just as saying in an interview ‘oh I worked with x brand’ can sell you in to a company, writing a song that says ‘I dated x famous person and they did x’ is going to sell you into your audience (and theirs.) Loose interpretation, this one, but still… How many Harry Styles fans played 1989 repeatedly looking for clues? Contact = utilised.

Taylor Swift marketing mastermind. Taylor and Katy Perry

Do your competitor research
I say competitor lightly, because KP – as much as I like her – isn’t really any competition. But she thinks she is, and so she needs to be addressed. Thanks to a high profile feud, KP and Tay Tay have been at each other’s throats for years. Understandably, Katy (who dubbed Tay ‘Regina George in sheep’s clothing’)  took a lot of joy from Taylor’s take down. The glee was obvious, as were her attempts to ride on the Taylor wave by claiming she was ‘over’ the issues between the two, just as Taylor was set to make a comeback. Taylor remained quiet on all of this more recent drama, but she was paying attention. On the day Katy launched the video for a new song – a T Swift takedown – Taylor released her first single in years. And on the day Katy’s new album dropped? Taylor relaunched her entire back library on streaming services. Do your competitor research, and you’ll gain the tools to destroy them. Soz KP.

Don’t be afraid to cause a stir
The best campaigns cause a reaction. They cause a stir. They get people talking. Say what you want about Taylor, but she knows how to get her name out there. I mean, who doesn’t remember #Hiddleswift? On which note, bravo to The Sun for their fantastic headline when the story broke: Tinker Taylor Snogs A Spy will forever be my favourite piece of trash journalism.

Don’t be afraid of re-invention
Same principle, different label. Re-invention is the key to making people talk. And when people can’t stop talking about you, they’re more likely to become attached to your brand. Taylor is the queen of re-invention. From cowboy boot wearing country ballads to the catchiest of pop, long curly locks to a be-fringed bob, Taylor knows the power of reinvention, and she’s not afraid to use that power.

Show that you believe in something
Taylor Swift is a strong woman, amongst her other accolades. And when she was inappropriately touched by a radio DJ, she hit back about it. In a highly publicised court case, the singer took a stand against sexual harassment, never once backing down in her beliefs that she, along with all other women, shouldn’t have to put up with being treated in a way that made her uncomfortable. She sued for just $1, proving that the case was about her rights, not about money. In doing so, she aligned herself with a worthwhile cause. And while she may not have done so for commercial gain, it was still a smart move in marketing terms, as well as in terms of her rights. Bravo.

Promote brand loyalty
Fans and customers are loyal to a brand that gives back. Taylor gives back. She creeps on her fans on Tumblr, throws secret ‘listening parties,’ sends gifts, makes visits in person, allsorts. Taylor knows that her fans are what made her, and she shows gratitude for it. That goes a helluva long way, guys. Why do you think supermarkets have clubcards?

 

So there we have it, a delve into the marketing genius of Taylor Swift, pop music extraordinaire. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go drive around and play the new cd on repeat. Back in about 8 hours…