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5 Lessons from Justin Bieber: How to Show Your Audience Love

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Guy Kawasaki made me do it. In a recent PRO seminar, The Art of Enchantment, Guy recommended that folks watch singer Justin Bieber's flick, "Never Say Never," to see a marketing machine in motion.

Guy piqued my interest, which made me add the movie to my Netflix queue, which made my family learn much more about Justin Bieber than they ever wanted to know. And I learned 5 awesome  tips for treating your audience well, thanks to the pint-sized fabulously coiffed wonderboy.

1. Know where your audience is. Everyone knows that Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube. But when opportunity came to him, it didn't immediately force him into purple baseball caps and toss glittering bags of money at him. Sure, Justin had the ear of some important people, but heneeded to find the earbuds of his target audience. So, when the radio stations refused to play Justin's music (they didn't know how to categorize him), he hit the venues all around him, from a water park to a high school gym to just playing acoustic songs on morning shows. He kept posting videos of his singing on YouTube  and kept playing at malls and wherever his target audience was. He didn't wait for them to come running to him, he went running to them.

2. Continually engage your audience. Justin maintained interest in his gigs (no matter how small) by telling people about it. One of the most effective ways he reached out was by using Twitter. Just a little tweet about where he was singing helped pass the word along, and the number of people showing up kept increasing every time. In the movie, Justin is shown tweeting often to tell fans where he will be, what the latest news is, or just to thank fans for caring about him. With 10,474,859 Twitter followers (at the time of writing), Justin maintains a steady stream of communication with them, which means he answers their tweets, retweets their comments, and appears accessible to everyone who follows him.

3. Single out your most devoted fans now and then. A trademark of a Justin Bieber show is the "One Less Lonely Girl" event. A girl is plucked out of the crowd to be on stage with Justin. The girl is guided backstage by Justin's people then ends up on stage during the song. She sits on a bar stool, receives a bouquet of flowers, and is serenaded the song "One Less Lonely Girl" by Justin. Sure, he does it for every concert; sure, the freshness might wear out at some point, but then I'm not Justin Bieber's target audience. The girls with "I'm a Belieber" bedazzled on their shirts and crying from joy at the sight of him? Those are his target audience members, and they adore him. So, he shows them some mutual love by putting the spotlight on them. And you know what? I bet you that every single girl who shows up to his concert must, on some level, hold a secret hope that she will be chosen for the "One Less Lonely Girl" number.

4. Reward loyal fans with spontaneous acts of gift-giving. Justin Bieber's people often have a handful of concert tickets that they give out to loyal Justin Bieber fans. They will check out the throngs of girls hanging out near concerts, girls who want to attend but cannot afford the tickets. And his team just gives them to the girls there. They will also check out the nosebleed seats at his concerts, and they hand out tickets for seat for the very front. Every fan matters, and Justin Bieber's team lets the fans know this.

5. Show your fans the human side of  your business. Justin isn't perfect, and he doesn't come off that way. (Well, maybe his hair is.) In the "Never Say Never" flick, Justin is shown in a full light, not flattering, not shadowed. He comes off as a regular boy with an amazing talent, and his life has been a mix of highs and lows. The scenes of arenas filled with screaming fans are interspersed with scenes of Justin being restless backstage, getting scolded by his voice coach, hanging out with his friends, and so on. And when Justin's throat gives him major problems, the film shows how annoying and isolating it is for him. A poignant shot is of Justin lying in bed and tweeting his fans to let them know he is grateful for their thoughts and prayers for his throat condition. He does not look like a major teen hearthhrob in the shot. He looks like a kid who is feeling down about being silenced, about not being able to perform, about not even being able to chat with his friends. It's this glimpse of the other side of the sparkling purple-clad teenager that endears him to his fans. The girls get a sense that Justin is very real, very human, and completely accessible.

Whether you're indifferent to Justin Bieber's music, a huge fan, or the fan of a raging "Belieber," you can still a learn a lot about the boy who sells out venues.

What's your take? Do you have any pop figures that inspire you? I'd love to hear about them! Just let me know about them in the comments.


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Veronica Maria Jarski is the Opinions editor and a senior writer at MarketingProfs.

Twitter: @Veronica_Jarski

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Comments

  • by Jana Bennett Tue Jun 21, 2011 via blog

    Thank you for the insight. I new light on a subject I've only been other wise exposed to by young niece and 7 year old replaying "Baby" over and over on his DSi. I may just add "Never Say Never" to my rental wish list.

  • by Aman Basanti Tue Jun 21, 2011 via blog

    Great post Veronica. Is it safe for a man to admit that he likes some of Bieber's songs? lol...

    Really liked your point about singling out your most devoted fans now and then. Like they say, 20% of people will end up doing the 80% of your word-of-mouth service. By finding them and rewarding them, you help retain and motivate those select few people.

  • by Kirsty Wertz Tue Jun 21, 2011 via blog

    Isn't Gaga a marketing machine also--she seems to have quite the following in her sub-culture known as Monsters.

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Tue Jun 21, 2011 via blog

    You're a brave, brave man for admitting that, Aman. ;) But, yes, there are good lessons to be learned, even by a teen heartthrob.

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Tue Jun 21, 2011 via blog

    Kirsty,

    Yep, she's supposed to be an amazing marketer as well. You can read about her here:
    http://www.marketingprofs.com/short-articles/1987/five-new-branding-lessons-from-lady-gaga

    But Justin's got some killer marketing moves himself. :)

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Jun 21, 2011 via blog

    Interesting story about Bieber, Veronica. But, you neglected to include the most important fact. Bieber is a Canuck! :)

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Tue Jun 21, 2011 via blog

    Oh, my. How forgetful of me! Thanks for mentioning it, Elaine! (grin)

  • by Local Search Tue Jun 21, 2011 via blog

    Gaga is a pretty good marketer and actually has more followers than Biebs, but Bieber's fans are more interactive. It was estimated that at any moment Bieber and his fans take up about 3% of twitter's servers. http://www.theclixgroup.com/4-things-justin-bieber-can-teach-us-about-socia...

  • by Local Search Tue Jun 21, 2011 via blog

    Veronica, this is an excellent article. I am a bit of a Belieber (though I'm just recently coming out of the Bieber closet). You might be interested in a similar post I wrote about three weeks ago on what Justin can teach us about social media. I certainly didn't put as much time into it as you did on this post, but I'd like to hear what you think.
    http://www.theclixgroup.com/4-things-justin-bieber-can-teach-us-about-social-media/

  • by Peter D Tue Jun 21, 2011 via blog

    It was funny - I was just thinking on the train yesterday that there is a lot that business people can learn from the Justin Bieber film. I agree with all of the points. To add to Point 1 - persistence and hard work ie 'pounding the beat' pays off. I am in the midst of starting up a new business and I am constantly reminding myself that the hard slog of finding out where my clients are, calling / engaging them will pay off. Never Say Never !

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Tue Jun 21, 2011 via blog

    Yes, exactly! Until I saw the flick, I thought he was just some kid who got on YouTube and then everything worked out like a Disney film for him. The movie made me see that the guy actually worked pretty darn hard. You get a sense of how much he has sacrificed of his time, childhood, etc. to follow his dream through. That could probably be another post, too ... The fact that you need to stick to your dream. Never say never indeed. :)

  • by SubhakarRao Wed Jun 22, 2011 via blog

    Excellent Article Veronica!

  • by Ann Handley Wed Jun 22, 2011 via blog

    Veronica: I was "forced" to watch "Never Say Never" by my 14-year-old, and came away totally impressed with Bieber, even though I had dismissed him previously. Two things that also struck me about him (with obvious lessons for marketers!) were:

    1. His incredible empathy for his audience. He really wants them to have a good experience, a good time, and to enjoy his music or concert. He understands inherently that his audience is paramount - not his producers, or event managers, or guests, or even himself.

    2. At the same time, he has a willingness to be less than perfect, which sparks his audience's empathy for HIM! This is consistent with your "human side" point above... but there were a few moments in the movie when he flubbed up on stage or had a technical issue or whatever, and he didn't freak out or worry that he was coming off as something less. Instead he appealed to the audience for understanding... and you could almost feel every heart in the room melt.

    Nice piece! Thanks Veronica (and Guy!)

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Wed Jun 22, 2011 via blog

    Ann,

    I know! It's not a flick I would have chosen for a rockin' fun evening ... but I got hooked in. I found the little guy's determination, hard work, and focus to be quite inspiring. There's a lot of work involved in achieving one's dream.

    Thanks for your points ... and for sharing your transformation into a Belieber. ;)

  • by Harry Hallman Thu Jun 23, 2011 via blog

    Justin Bieber is a very talented young man and he deserves a lot of credit for his sucess. But there are three factors that assisted him in his success.

    1- He has a quality product. If you don't have that you can market all you want, but you will not see the sucess he has obtained.

    2- He had great support in his early years. His mother and family supported his efforts and pushed the Youtube postings.

    3- USHER. This is a guy who did not have YouTube or another USHER to guide him. He had a mother that believed in him and gave him the tools to build on his talents (quality product). He has the foresight to recongize Bieber's talent and the compassion or business sense to help him expoit it.

    I also saw the Bieber movie with my Granddaughter and I agree it was excellent and an example to today's youth.

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Fri Jul 15, 2011 via blog

    Harry:
    Excellent points indeed. Thank you!

  • by Greg Brent Sun Jul 17, 2011 via blog

    Enjoyed the article. It's a great reminder that all audiences, whether in music or something else, want 2 things. To be entertained and engaged. The combination of those provides the "experience".

    I highly recommend all musicians to think about and plan their shows out. Have a pre-production meeting to go over ideas. Get feedback from mentors, venue staff, other bands. Continually work on the show. I've seen quite a few bands that have great music but lack the interaction side of their show. By combining both you enter into the realm of true entertainment.

    Thanks again,
    Greg

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Tue Jul 19, 2011 via blog

    Greg:

    Good points! I think what I admired is that Justin goes beyond just playing music and really seems to care about his fans. I don't need all the hoopla and special screens and everything when I see live music, but I like to feel connected to the music. The bands that seem to reach out and engage with their fans are the ones with the greater longevity in the industry.

    Thanks for commenting!

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Tue Jul 19, 2011 via blog

    Thanks! Hope it inspires you to see the movie ... ;-)

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