Marketing Advice from a Basketball Legend: Bill Walton

    by Magdalena Georgieva

    Date

    August 11, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    "The Grateful Dead—they made me care; and that is what you have to do with your company,” said basketball legend Bill Walton at yesterday’s HubSpot webinar, How to Market Your Business Like the Most Iconic Band in History . The event was held in connection with the launch of Brian Halligan and David Meerman Scott’s new book, Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead .

    As a big Grateful Dead fan, Bill shared with us some thoughts that reiterate valuable marketing lessons:

    “Always be willing to experiment, always be willing to explore.”

    Intellectual curiosity, Bill noted, is what takes people to places no one has ever gone. He encouraged entrepreneurs and marketers to embrace innovation and try out new technologies without fear or too much hesitation. “Don’t just sit there and wait for things to fall into your lap,” Bill said. “Go out there and chase it down,” he added.

    “The whole spirit of creating and building is the same for a company, for a basketball player and for a band.”

    Bill emphasized the idea that different entities use the same approach to achieve success. As a marketer, Bill suggested, your goal remains to “sell a hope, a dream.” So, next time you doubt there is anything good to blog about, think about the dream you want to sell, not your product.

    “Assume Your Audience Is Brilliant.”

    One behavior Bill finds especially irritating in media is companies talking down to him. “Treat your audience with respect,” he emphasized. Building a trustworthy relationship with your audience provides a strong incentive for visitors and fans to return. “It is what keeps you coming back,” Bill said.

    “Encourage Eccentricity.”

    The Dead became a successful band because they developed a unique business model that contradicted popular notions of profitability. Eccentricity characterizes successful marketing initiatives, setting apart the truly creative ones. Social media, for instance, has been used by thousands of businesses but has proven beneficial for the ones who take unique approaches . How are you encouraging eccentricity at your company?

    Don’t Follow the Competition

    One of the lessons Bill learned in basketball reiterates a point that Brian and David make in their new book: Watch the Competition But Never Follow Them . Though you need to learn from emerging trends and adapt to the changing marketing environment, you shouldn’t bury your distinct voice. Instead, question common assumptions and reshape the boundaries of your industry.

    These are just a few of the insights Bill shared with us—for the complete discussion, visit our on-demand webinar . If you want to draw more inspiration from the unorthodox branding of the most iconic band in history, check out Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead . As Bill put it, this book demonstrates “the ability to capture the message, the hope, the joy of the Grateful Dead and to put it into the business context.”


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