13 marketing lessons from Taylor Swift

13 marketing lessons from Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift has built a strong brand using creative marketing strategies. Here are 13 lessons you can use as you develop your marketing plan.
October 13, 2023
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Dear reader, whether you're a "Swiftie" like us or simply someone who appreciates good marketing, you know that Taylor Swift isn't just an artist, she's also a mastermind. If you're anything like us, you've likely been enchanted by her clean marketing approach. Taylor Swift has been crushing it ever since she started her career, and today, we're going to look at 13 lessons she's been quietly teaching us all too well.

1. Authenticity always wins

Taylor Swift’s music is a reflection of her true self, and that authenticity connects deeply with her fans. As marketers, we should take notes on keeping it real with our audience to help build trust. Now, let's apply this lesson to marketing.

Imagine you're running a marketing campaign for a skincare brand. You could go the traditional route by creating polished (or even photoshopped) ads featuring models with perfect skin. Or, you could take a page from Taylor's book of authenticity.

In your campaign, you decide to tell the story of someone who struggled with acne for years, just like many of your target customers. You showcase their journey, the highs, and lows, the frustration, and the ultimate triumph of finding a skincare routine that worked. You highlight the real person behind the flawless skin, complete with imperfections and insecurities.

This helps build relatability, genuinity, and an emotional connection with your target audience.

2. Roll with the changes

From country to pop to alternative/indie music, Taylor Swift made genre-hopping look effortless. In marketing, staying adaptable and open to change is a must. Let's be as fearless in adapting our strategies as she is with her music.

Just a few years ago, Facebook and Instagram dominated. Now, TikTok and Youtube Shorts have taken center stage. Marketers who adapt quickly to these shifts, experimenting with new platforms and formats, often see better engagement from their audience.

Take a fashion brand, for example, that traditionally focused on Instagram starts to notice its audience migrating to TikTok. They decide to experiment with TikTok marketing, creating short, engaging videos advertising their products. This adaptation allows them to reach a trendier demographic while improving brand awareness.

3. Engage on social

Swift's active engagement with fans on social media platforms strengthens her fan base. An example of this would be whenever Taylor Swift would tease a new album drop by posting a certain amount of pictures on Instagram that hint the theme of the next album. This allows her fanbase to guess what the next album might be titled and what topic it covers.

Another recent example is Taylor Swift’s Midnights Mayhem With Me. This was a series of TikTok videos that were short and sweet. Each video revealed the title of one track on her, at the time upcoming album, Midnights. She would release one video per day at the same time and place, but wearing different outfits. This sent her fans into a frenzy and anticipation. 

Marketers should follow suit by actively interacting with their audience, responding to comments, and fostering a sense of community. This engagement builds brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

4. Compelling storytelling sells

Swift's music is celebrated for its storytelling. You can see that in all her songs and music videos. Famous examples would be like Love Story, which is a song about Romeo and Juliet, and like Cardigan, Betty, and August, which are three separate songs that feature the point of view of three different characters in the “Swiftverse.” 

Let’s not forget about the fan favorite, All Too Well, which originally was a five-minute song but is now a ten-minute song after the fans’ demand to release the raw uncut version. This song is full of imagery and Swift’s personal and relatable experiences.  

Marketers can learn to create emotional connections with their audience by adding compelling narratives into their content. Whether through blog posts, videos, or social media, storytelling can make your brand more relatable and memorable.

5. Surprise and delight your audience

Swift's knack for surprise album releases and planting easter eggs for her fans generates buzz and excitement. 

Her most recent interaction with her fans was the 1989 vault that would pop up whenever you Googled Taylor SwiftFans were excited to see that whenever they clicked on the vault, a puzzle would show up on the screen. Taylor Swift announced that she would reveal the titles of the unreleased vault tracks (tracks that were supposed to be included in her previous albums, but were not) if her fans solved 33 million puzzles.

Little did anyone know that Swifties managed to solve the puzzles in less than 72 hours making Taylor Swift the most searched person in the world on Google. 

Marketers should occasionally offer unexpected promotions, exclusive content, or limited-time offers to keep customers engaged and eager to explore what's next.

6. Data-driven decision-making

According to Ghostery, Swift uses data to understand her fans better, whether it be through her social media accounts, official merch website, or music platforms. 

Marketers should employ analytics tools to gain insights into consumer behavior and track campaign performance. Data-driven marketing ensures that efforts are efficient and effective.

7. Strategic collaborations

Taylor Swift's collaborations with various artists have expanded her reach. She not only has unexpected features in her albums, but she also invites famous athletes, actors/actresses, talk show hosts, supermodels, and other singers up on the stage in her concerts as surprise guests. 

Marketers can leverage strategic partnerships and collaborations to access new markets, audiences, and enhance their brand image.

8. Personalization matters

Swift sends personalized gifts to her fans, from Christmas gifts and graduation gifts to paying off student/medical debts, which creates a sense of connection. Another example of her special connection with her fans is how Taylor Swift starts “traditions” with her fans and also embraces new ones that fans start.

Marketers should utilize data to personalize marketing efforts, making customers feel valued and understood.

9. Create FOMO

Taylor Swift's “secret sessions,” where she invites fans to her house, bakes her famous cookies, and gives them a sneak-peak of her upcoming album, generate excitement among fans. You are only invited to these sessions if you meet a certain criteria, such as being interactive on social media with Taylor Swift or if you are one of her “most listeners” according to the music platforms.

Marketers can create a sense of FOMO by offering exclusive events, early access, or limited-time promotions, encouraging customers to act quickly.

10. Consistency in branding

Taylor Swift has maintained a consistent visual brand throughout her career, such as making sure she writes or co-writes every song in her albums. Another example of consistency would be her style. She got that red lip classic thing that everyone recognizes. And let’s not forget about her fringe, or bangs, call it what you want.

Marketers should ensure that their brand identity remains consistent across all channels, reinforcing recognition and trust.

11. Embrace controversy positively

Taylor Swift is no mad woman and has handled controversies gracefully and delicate-ly, often using them as opportunities to reinforce her brand values. This is shown throughout her entire musical career, but more notably in her songs Blank Space and Look What You Made Me Do. She uses self-satire to portray the media’s remarks about her being a “serial dater” and a “snake,” respectively.

Marketers should be prepared for controversies and be ready to respond positively, aligning with their brand's principles.

12. Engage in cause marketing

Swift supports causes she's passionate about, such as women empowerment, mental health awareness, gun control, disaster relief, cancer research, artists’ rights to own their music, and the list goes on. Marketers can engage in cause marketing to align with social issues, connect with socially conscious consumers, and make a positive impact.

Let’s take the example of a make-up brand. This make-up brand can announce to its customers that it will be donating the sales of a certain day to a certain cause. The brand can also survey its customers to choose which organization to donate to at the end of that day. This will help promote the brand’s products and image. It will also allow it to connect with its customers. 

13. Stay resilient

Taylor Swift has faced public scrutiny and challenges, but she remains resilient and untouchable. One of her discussed challenges is owning the masters of her first six albums. Even though she requested from her record label to purchase the rights to the recordings, they were sold to someone else without her knowing.

She decided to take the matter to court and ended up with the decision to re-record her first six albums after a long battle. The media was skeptical of her decision to do so, however, Swift ended up breaking more records than she did when she released the albums the first time.  

Marketers should take inspiration from her ability to shake it off, staying focused on their long-term goals even in the face of adversity.

Long story short

These are just some of the gorgeous marketing strategies we can all learn from Taylor Swift. Whether you’re looking to increase your site’s brand awareness or capture new customers, you can try these lessons and apply them to your own marketing program. You know, there’s a place in this world for good marketing.

No bad blood to other marketing agencies, but Jell Digital is the one. We can fill the blank space and achieve your wildest dreams. Contact us today to get your free marketing plan and see the growth you can expect from our digital marketing services.

Are you ready for it?

Image credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/ Getty Images

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