Five Lessons of “Mandatory Fun” for Marketing Success

Published 7/29/14
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If I asked you to identify the music artist who released their first song in 1979, had a successful 35 year music career, and released a number one album in 2014—who would you name? If you came up with anyone other than Weird Al Yankovic you’re wrong. Despite having a successful and relevant music career over four decades, Weird Al’s new album—Mandatory Fun—is his first to top the charts. Who would have thought that Weird Al’s musical staying power would be more relevant today than Madonna, Sting, Prince or some of industry’s other major icons? But perhaps the more important question is, “How did he do it?”

Simply put, Weird Al has evolved and mastered the new world of content creation and distribution. And even better, you can learn from his example for your own marketing efforts. As quick background, Weird Al’s accomplishment this month began July 15. To promote the release of the album, he launched his #8videos8days project, which focused on releasing one music video from the album each day on a different content partner’s website.

The results over those eight days speak for themselves: •46 million video views •785% increase in his music streamed on Spotify vs. the previous week •104,000 albums sold to become #1 (really the most important objective, right?) So let’s circle back to how he did it and the five lessons you can use to follow his example. Embrace that marketing is changing The 54-year-old Yankovic managed to stay relevant because he not only embraced how his audience has changed, but he’s evolved and embraced the strategies and tactics that work to reach his desired audience. How often do we try to continue to do the same thing we’ve always done because it produced results in the past? It doesn’t mean it’s always going to work. Your audience is diverse; so are the channels that will reach them If you think Weird Al only appeals to a certain audience, and it’s not your audience, think again. Yankovic’s #8videos8days included partnerships to release the videos across a wide spectrum of sites to target a diverse audience. This included The Nerdist, Yahoo, College Humor, PopCrush, Vevo, Funny or Die, Reddit and The Wall Street Journal. You don’t need a big budget to create and distribute content Yankovic was able to get his videos made for free in exchange for providing the different websites with exclusive content. And, of course, the websites benefited by getting traffic and ad revenue. With creativity and beneficial partnerships impactful content can both be created and distributed. Being bold and innovating may be risky, but the rewards are plentiful Doing something different and new is never easy and requires an investment. But doing the same thing you’ve always done will end up costing you more in the long run. Whether it’s chasing down artists backstage at their concert to get permission to make a parody of their song or tapping into creative distribution models, Yankovic has been bold, taken chances, innovated or tried new ideas in order to find continued success and relevancy. Leverage effective partnerships to distribute your content If you want to market your message you need to create great content, but once it’s created how will you distribute it? Using your “owned” channels is one way. But through the power of Brandscaping you can leverage partnerships and other people’s audiences to get your message beyond your own content distribution walls. A quick overview of Brandscaping looks like this: •Identify key partners •Create content that inspires their audience •Develop a plan for ongoing efforts vs. a one-time approach For nearly four decades, Weird Al has created engaging content and shows no signs of slowing down. And his lessons for staying relevant are ones we can all pay attention to and learn from.