Just an illusion – a marketing lesson from pop.

Bloggers are always writing about Lady Gaga and when I see the headline “Why Gaga is a marketing genius” or “How to  use social media like Gaga” I put my hands over my ears to block out the sound of  bandwagons rolling by.

But look – I confess – I have written about Gaga – it was a couple of years ago now, but I wrote the post because I was and still am a huge fan and am in awe of her genius. So with apologies all done I am going to do it again!

Gaga did a show at the Radio 1 festival in Carlisle at the weekend and I watched it go out live on BBC3. It was terrific of course, but quite self-indulgent in parts – with the big hits knocked off in a breathless medley at the start to make time for a much slower section in which she played jazz and latin and bashed about on the piano.

How do you sell that?

You sell it by calling on the relationship you have with your audience. Sat at the piano she was unapologetic – “my record company didn’t want me to play this” she says “but I’m going to anyway.”

Oh Gaga really? Just for us? Because you want us to hear it and you know best and you want to share this moment with us?

That’s right. She drew the audience into her confidence and allowed everyone to play hooky from the record company together. In an interview with her later, I read that she likes to mix things up a little at festivals and go with the vibe.

Do you know what? I don’t believe a single word of it – I think every note was planned in advance – she’d been there since 9 in the morning to make sure that it was all perfect but I was still charmed by the illusion that we were all in it together, just making it up as we went along.

So there you have it – the genius of Gaga – making her audience feel involved. It was like we were getting the good stuff, the stuff she keeps at the back of the cupboard for especially good friends – the best deal in the show room – the diamond studded real thing and not the plastic version.

To fall for it is human nature. As someone said on the radio this morning, we like to think we are rational beings but we are actually governed by our need for human relationships.

Take a lesson and apply.


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