Photo Credit: Featureflash / Shutterstock.com
This time of year is when I start to reflect on our annual goals and determine if we had a successful year or not. I also look at our franchisees and do a review of their performance and review if they reached their goals we set in January. As I began t.....
Photo Credit: Featureflash / Shutterstock.com
This time of year is when I start to reflect on our annual goals and determine if we had a successful year or not. I also look at our franchisees and do a review of their performance and review if they reached their goals we set in January. As I began to do my review I started to think about patterns I see over and over again with underperforming businesses over the years with the hundreds of franchises I have helped ramp up. And then it hit me! What did Taylor Swift do in 2014 to reach her goals that underperformers did not? Swift’s new album, 1989 sold almost 1.3 million copies in its first week. It is the only album of 2014 to go platinum, a milestone that is increasingly difficult to reach in the music industry.
So, what are the biggest differences between the "genius" of Taylor Swift and small businesses that struggle year in and year out?
1. She Has "Team Taylor" and you still need to hire staff-One of the biggest difference between successful and struggling small businesses is in regards to having a full team/staff on hand to run the business. Often the mentality I have seen is "I can't afford more people" or "I'll hire staff when I'm making money". Taylor literally has an army to help drive her organization. From managers, publicity teams, tour logistics, finance, it goes on and on. Taylor had a big label support from the start and without a team on board there's a good chance she would still be playing acoustic guitar singing songs at a local coffee shop. Taylor has a team and without it she wouldn't have hit her goals in 2014.
2. Taylor Swift Invests in Marketing and You Want to Argue about ROI- She not only has sold more than 26 million albums but also has 43.6 million followers on Twitter and 11 million followers on Instagram. Swift also comes up with creative ways to tease album releases and keep her fans on their toes. All while maintaining an approachable, down-to-earth personality. Over the last 90 days it's hard to turn on a TV and not see Taylor Swift. All of this costs time and money. Most small businesses underestimate the time and financial investment that it takes to build their brand. Taylor invested big time in marketing and it paid off in 2014. She gets the importance of marketing and ROI.
3. Taylor Sells on Value Not on Price-I can't tell you how many times I have heard this comment "My market is different than any other part of the county.People here are cheap!" When sales staff can't communicate the true value of their product or service they go to the crutch: price discounting. This often can result in not only unprofitable business but can jeopardize their livelihood. The first week Taylor’s album came out, you could only get it in a few key places: i-Tunes, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, and Target (where it was priced at $14/high on the average sales price of a CD). But the tools Swift didn't use are as important as the ones she did. By refusing to release her singles on Spotify, or any other streaming site, she pushed her fans to buy the album. Spotify pays the artist pennies on the dollar. Taylor Swift skipped it. Taylor Swift is absolutely right: “Music is art, art has real value, and artists deserve to be paid for it”. She “gets selling on value which helped her reach another goal in 2014.
4. Taylor Swift Has a Great Personality and You Don't- The older I get the more important I find a positive attitude is in predicting business success. Very rarely do I see a negative/glass half empty guy who is a success. People are attracted to positive, happy, fun people in life. Footage emerged last week from Taylors “1989 Secret Sessions” campaign, wherein she hosted exclusive listening parties of her new album for fans that involved having them come over to her house, baking them cookies, dancing around with everyone, and then dispensing hugs like they were going out of style. Even the YouTube comments on the video are a veritable love fest (minus some debate over how many men she’s dated, in typical YouTube fashion), with "Swifties"gushing over what a “normal” and “down to earth” person Taylor is. Not that this is the "real" person but she has done an amazing job of producing a girl-next door persona who relates to a large demographic. Both customers and employees are turned off by “Debbie Downer.” A negative attitude is contagious and it isn't something that will be a building block for success. Taylor is someone who is likeable and relatable which helped sell her brand globally in 2014.
5. Taylor Swift is “All In” While You're Still Part-Time- Often you will hear about people who want to find a business they work part time or is an absentee model. This rarely works. Full time profits typically require full time efforts. One of the biggest causes of business failure is not putting in the required time and effort. Taylor has an incredible work ethic and there is probably a reason she is single at 25. She is laser focused on her career and works harder than the bulk of the entertainment field. When I see people who don't have passion for their business they rarely succeed and generally won't put in the time and energy needed. Taylor was “all in” in 2014 and got results from her passion and work effort.
6. Taylor Responds to Change and You Are Paralyzed-In business there are times when you will experience change and must adapt. Whether the model changes, the economy, world events, you must be able to adapt to survive. Taylor Swift got her start in fairly traditional country and her music has evolved continually. Her latest album is a departure from country-pop to a pure pop music which has a much broader consumer base. Her audience is growing up and embracing other genres like rap and this has helped spark sales. Businesses that don't stay current with the most recent changes to their industry and future trends often will fail.
Her music may not be for everyone, but the marketing/business genius of Taylor Swift should not go unadmired. If more of my franchisees had these six traits our sales would sky rocket. In 2015 think about how you can change your focus to reach your goals and how you can be more like Taylor. And I’m kind of shocked that I wrote that last sentence…