Let me confess, I’ve never been infected with “Bieber fever” let alone been a “Belieber.” However, having recently watched his documentary, Never Say Never, I’ve come to realize how much startups and small business owners can learn from this under-aged, pop hearthrob. Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and even Charlie Sheen are all masters of marketing themselves and their own personal brands. What’s their recipe for success? Of course luck is a crucial factor, but they all adhere to some underlying principles that we entrepreneurs and business owners should pay attention to.
1) Know Your Audience and Connect
Just like any startup, Bieber started from scratch: no industry connections, no millions of dollars in capital at his disposal, not even U.S. citizenship (he’s actually Canadian). Yet, he was determined to prove himself and worked his little tail off to get noticed by people that could help rocket his career (think of Usher as his venture capitalist). Bieber found his audience, catered to their wants and built their support. His success largely came from his use of social media – one of the cheapest and most effective ways a startup can build brand awareness and engage with customers. Social media gives a voice to anyone who has something to say, and allows those who successfully market themselves to gain more buzz within the community. The beauty of using social media as an entrepreneur is the lack of filter; there are no layers of management permission that one might come across in a well established company. With over ten million followers on Twitter, “the Beebz” keeps his fans engaged by constantly updating them and maintaining very close, sometimes even one-on-one, contact.
2) Customers Come First
Before every show, Bieber’s team has a tradition where they go out on the streets to give away leftover tickets to unsuspecting fans. During the show, they select random audience members sitting hundreds of rows back, and invite them down to the VIP section by the stage. His team even picks a random girl from the crowd to come onstage to be serenaded by Justin during a certain song. Little gestures like these show J.B.’s fans that they’re appreciated, without incurring high costs along the way. Lady Gaga has also been known to order pizza and donuts for her fans while they camp out in line for her concert tickets. Whether it’s excelling in customer service or revving up a better product, remember that your customers are your lifeline and the reason you exist – not to mention your greatest marketing asset.
3) Focus on What Makes You…You
For Bieber, the big buzz on his pre-fame Youtube videos caught the attention of his first manager. Once you’ve pinpointed what makes your business unique, run with it! Market it like crazy. Taking risks and always stepping outside the box are essential to make yourself stand out. After all, no one ever got attention by being timid and passively waiting for someone to notice them. Case in point: Charlie Sheen. Remember to always keep your core values and long term goals in mind, as they’re the heart of your business.