This Makes Me Laugh
A friend and fellow music lover shared an article with me last week about my favorite band — Pearl Jam. And the reason it makes me chuckle is that as a card carrying member of the Ten Club (their fan club) since 1992, I firmly believe that Eddie, Stone, Jeff, and Mike would cringe if they knew they were being written about as smart “business strategists.” Pearl Jam is the band that is soooooo anti-Big Business. Nevertheless, they have paved a path that draws comparison to the likes of brands such as Apple, Facebook, and Coca Cola. Let me explain.
One of the things I love about the band is that they are in it for their fans more than for themselves. And while that may seem cliché (or naive), I have experienced it first hand. About two years ago, I had the privilege of building a 100 x 50 Pearl Jam Museum, thanks to Evo Exhibits in Chicago. The museum was at a music festival celebrating their 20th anniversary. During that process, I and the guys from Evo were interacting with everyone — the roadies, the touring manager, the band manager, the fan club manager, and the band itself. All along the message was clear. As Ten Club Manager Tim Bierman said in the article below, “Respect for our fans is the guiding philosophy.”
Please take a moment to read this short article from The Build Network that summarizes Pearl Jam’s philosophy: http://thebuildnetwork.com/leadership/pearl-jam-business-lessons/.
Here’s a snippet:
Pearl Jam hasn’t released a music video in 15 years. It doesn’t do endorsements, commercials, or — heaven forbid — musicals. Yet its Ten Club is widely regarded as the most loyal and rabid superfan base in the music industry. Here’s what a 23-year-old grunge band can teach us all about building customer relationships that last.
Now think about your business and your customers. Do your customers merely buy stuff from you? Or do you have Superfans? And if you don’t have Superfans, then why? Why are your customers not brand zealots for you and your products or services?
While I am not suggesting that all Classic Exhibits customers are Superfans, I am willing to say that the lion’s share are, at a minimum, partners and friends. And that is something we are very proud of.
Just last week, Optima shared a story from a common customer. The basics are . . . The Distributor was a Classic Distributor, but we were their #2 vendor. Time after time, their long-term #1 supplier had let them down on service, quality, and delivery. The owner hired a new sales rep who had come from another Classic Distributor. After hearing her praise for Classic and then experiencing it himself, he realized he needed to reshuffle the order of his #1 and #2 suppliers.
But what tipped the scale? Yes, his positive experience with his first couple of orders, but it was our “fans” at Optima and the new SuperFan employee that got the ball rolling.
At the end of the day, as cliché as it may sound, the way you build fans, partners, or whatever you choose to call them is it make it all about them. Cater to their wants and needs.
Back to Pearl Jam. As a fan and in this case a service provider, you hope your client appreciates what you do. Pearl Jam, the roadies, and the managers all said to the guys from Evo Exhibits and to me, “The fans are gonna love this!” That’s what mattered to them.
Lastly, as PJ brand zealot, I would be remiss if I did not mention that Pearl Jam just announced their 2013 North American tour. So do yourself a favor and see them when they come to your town. You WON’T be disappointed. I promise.
Be well and have a great weekend.