Our increasingly meta society has developed a critic's eye for the marketing of entertainment. It's commonplace to hear the newest number-one album decried as no more than a product of effective promotion.
Well, even if you don't jump on the hip-hop bandwagon and join the millions who have made the genre the nation's dominant cultural force, you can easily learn valuable marketing lessons from these contemporary entrepreneurs. And if you're able to apply them to your brand, you might, to paraphrase 50 Cent, get rich and not die tryin'.
1. Be proud of your roots
We're a culture that loves underdogs. Knowing that Nelly came from the St. Louis ghetto makes his fans more than happy to support his lavish lifestyle; they appreciate the hard work he's put in to make it.
Your brand may have a similar rags-to-riches story. Whether it's staying active in your home city (right down to adopting a highway or holding a bake sale for a local school), opportunities abound to leverage your brand by tying it more closely to its hometown. Doing so will put a premium on your brand in the eyes of your most loyal customers.
2. It's not just about the music, yo
A generation ago, singers and songwriters who valued pure musical ability over appearance were abolished from the mainstream by MTV. Today, rappers are better than anyone at acknowledging every facet of their being as an opportunity to market their core product—their music. Fans know what kind of car Ludacris drives, what kind of clothes he wears, even that he prefers Burberry cologne.
Everything your brand does presents an opportunity to market. Are your delivery trucks, your packaging and your point-of-sale materials driving your key marketing message? Are your sales reps indicative of your core customer—do they live and breathe your brand or merely the act of selling? Audit your entire organization for marketing effectiveness.