Inbound Marketing Lessons from Phish

Adam Mavrikos



Marketing Lessons from Phish

Maybe it's a sign that I've become a total geek, but lately I keep spotting inbound marketing in unlikely places. 

Most recently, with one of my favorite bands: Phish.  After a five-year break from playing music together, the band finally reunited, and did so with a three-day concert in Hampton, VA. 

I went to their website to check out the show reviews, as millions of others did, and was surprised at what I found: a free download of the entire three-day concert!  

Obviously, I was pumped.  But I also couldn't help thinking what a great inbound marketing strategy this was.

Love the music or hate it, you have to respect Phish as one of the top revenue producing bands of all time  -- and you can't deny the role inbound marketing played here. 

With that in mind, here are 4 inbound marketing lessons from Phish:

1. Provide some value for free and results will follow

As I mentioned above, Phish is publicly allowing a free download of their reunion concert.  Although the band could have made some money selling the recordings, they let their fans have it for FREE. 

In fact, Phish (and the Grateful Dead) have been doing this for years!  It's a great strategy. By allowing people to easily experience and share live shows with one another, it helps build exposure to their music, i.e. their "brand." Ultimately, this will lead to ticket revenue from the band's relentless touring.

Marketing Guru (and Dead Head) David Meerman Scott talks about creating a Worldwide rave, and how it is necessary to create triggers that get people to spread your ideas

That's exactly what Phish is doing, and you as a marketer or business owner shouldn't be afraid to do something similar.  If you're a consultant or coach, give some free tips on your blog. If you're a software company, offer a trial. 

HubSpot's Website Grader is like our own version of the free Phish download.  We could charge for it, but over half a million people have been exposed to our company and brand because Website Grader is free and offers great value.

2. You don't have to reinvent the wheel, but you do need to stand out

The similarities between Phish and The Grateful Dead are many. Musically, philosophically and even right down to their marketing strategies, as noted above in their distribution of the "brand." (There's a good breakdown of the Dead's marketing strategy here ).

As a marketer or business owner, it's important to study other successful marketers. Phish learned it from the Dead, so the question is: Who in your vertical is doing something outside of the box and getting great results?  Learn from them and put your own twist on it.  If there isn't someone, well, maybe it should be you!

3. Inbound Marketing only gets you results if you're persistent

Phish was a touring machine, playing concerts in different cities all over the world for month and months on end.  Their relentless touring resulted in a loyal fan base and nearly unparalleled ticket revenue.

Just like Phish's dedication to touring, your inbound marketing strategy will only be successful if you are regularly creating great content. 

By blogging frequently, you'll improve SEO, traffic, and if done correctly, sales leads.  BUT, you must be persistent.

This type of persistence is how Phish built up an enormous following, and it's how you'll build one too. (Plus, it's easier to follow someone on Twitter then a band up and down the East Coast!)

4. Interesting content will help you build a following

In addition to regularly creating content, you must be fresh and interesting to your market (not just to you).  Phish will play a different set list of songs every concert, and often throw in something theatrical to keep it interesting.  (One time I saw the band fly over the audience in a giant hot dog!

Fans love them for this because we never knew what to expect.  It's interesting, and it keeps people coming back. 

Just like Phish, you need to promote your products and services by publishing new, fresh ideas about your business and your target market. 

Many people ask me why their blog subscriptions have plateaued, and it's often because the content they produce has become very familiar, almost jaded.  This kills your following, and doesn't help you attract inbound links for SEO.  Look at your blog, are you doing this?  If so, don't be afraid to change things up, keep it fresh, and be borderline unpredictable! 

Phish was able to recognize a unique but successful strategy, apply it to their own brand, and effectively market it over time by providing free value.  The result was one of the top grossing bands of all time, and they never even had a hit on the radio! 

Applying this inbound marketing approach, especially to a B2B business, is becoming increasingly effective, and now there are ROI numbers to support this

Can you apply these Phishy lessons to your inbound marketing strategy?


Photo credit here .

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