Book Review: “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead” Part 1

[tweetmeme source= “brennels” only_single=false]In 1986 friends of mine tried to talk me into going to see the opening tour date of the Grateful Dead in Alpine Valley Wisconsin. They didn’t have any tickets, no place to stay or even a way to get to the concert 3 hours away. They tried to convince me that it didn’t matter and that there was plenty to be had for free. Growing up on a farm the only think I knew was free was hard work and the reward of getting it accomplished. I didn’t go and they made it up, saw the concert and had a great time. This could be one of my long list of regrets but it isn’t because I don’t go anywhere without a plan and that philosophy has worked well for me throughout my entire career, especially when creating a social media marketing plan from scratch.

However, the book ‘Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead” makes a great case for free and letting yourself go to take chances, much like the Grateful Dead did when first launching their career thirty some years ago. I had the chance to briefly meet David Meerman Scott a few years ago at one of Chris Brogan’s New Marketing Summits, and used many of his concepts of “free” to help shape my own marketing strategy. This concept wasn’t exactly understood by my executive team but they understood my passion for the concept and let me run with it. The result 3 years later was a tremendous brand recognition and loyalty from our appreciative customer base.

The book is broken out into three parts. “The Band”, “The Fans” and “The Business”. So today I will just touch on the band. The Grateful Dead wasn’t successful when they first started and weren’t exactly good at what they did but they hung in there and continued to work and ultimately that work paid off in dividends. This is just a great life lesson in general, don’t give up! When I was first creating our social media community, I constantly wrote and published content day after day for 8 months. During this time I felt like I was banging my head against the wall and often questioned the path I was on. But then it happened. The community grew organically, and all the sudden customers were answering questions from other customers and partners were engaging with product management on solutions and ultimately the usergroup community I started became an entity on it’s own with little need for moderation. This is the ultimate goal with any marketing program and Scott and Halligan are successful in relating this concept to the trials and tribulations the Grateful Dead endured during their journey.

The first few chapters talk about the beginning of the band and how they created the Grateful Dead brand through diverse backgrounds and constantly experimenting with new concepts. I appreciate the music of the Grateful Dead but would never consider myself a deadhead but the lines drawn between “The Dead” and today’s new online marketing strategy makes it very clear how the two are related.

Stay tuned for part 2 and 3 about the fans and the business.


About bracerennels
Retired from corporate. Previous experience assisting companies implement disruptive engagement marketing strategies to evolve community, collaboration and corporate communications. Provide strategic and executive leadership to transform traditional marketing programs into modern social engagement and improved customer experience. Currently scheduled to speak at the Argyle Executive Forum NYC Nov 5th and will entertain other speaking, advisory or consulting opportunities as time allows.

2 Responses to Book Review: “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead” Part 1

  1. Too bad you didn’t go to Alpine Valley. The Dead usually stepped up the shows there. Thanks for reading our book and writing about it here.

    • bracerennels says:

      Hi David, thanks for the comment on the blog and good job with the book. Sounds like the book signing show was a good time – take care

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