I was standing in the Marketing book section of Barnes and Noble, when a brightly coloured book caught my eye. Not the typical obnoxious bright orange, but a familiar colour spectrum. It reminded me of an old Grateful Dead poster. It was called Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan. Not thinking too much of it, I picked it up, flipped through it, smiled and put it back on the shelf. I mentioned it to a friend whose response was “that book is perfect for you! It’s a good book to have on your shelf.” I continued shopping but right before I left I thought, “well they really nailed the cover. It reminds me of the old concert posters.” So on my way out, I added it to my pile of marketing books and left the store.
I read this book in a single day, which means a lot. It worked for me on so many levels. What I loved was the simple structure of the book. It would discuss nostalgic aspect of the band band or the culture, and follow it with a marketing lesson. And occasionally, a light-hearted photo from the past. I’m fairly new to marketing and so I’m in an absorption phase, soaking up ideas and information like a sponge. About 1/2 way through the book I flipped it over to the back and read a few of the supporting references. There was a familiar name. Seth Godin.
“I miss Jerry. And I wonder . . . is your brand iconic? Why not? Hint: it has nothing whatsoever to do with hemp brownies. Becoming iconic is a choice.”
Seth Godin, author of Linchpin, blogger, Deadhead
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of Seth Godin’s books. I can’t believe I haven’t done a full post about what I’ve learned from his books but I plan to. So far, I’ve read Linchpin, Permission Marketing, The Icarus Deception and All Marketers are Liars. Next up is Tribes, which talks about how important leaders are. I liked that he points out that leaders aren’t always in management positions. And it’s the chief members in a company who should be keeping an eye out for the leaders.
Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead continued to entertain me till the very end. There was a little joyful emotional spike before wrapping it up. And, as someone who works with database engines and software, I really appreciated the part about the MySQL database engine and how they gave away their software for free and still made a profitable, highly respected business.
The book mentioned tape trading, and I reminisced of my old tape collection, which I still have in a custom wooden box I had a friend build using the barter system. This book had me thinking of my friends, family and adolescence, because it was around those years (I was 15) when we lost Jerry Garcia. Fortunately, the music of the Grateful Dead continues to expand. The remaining member have continued to play in bands like Furthur. And we’re in for a special treat this July in Chicago, as the Dead will be playing with Trey Anastisio (Phish) for 3 nights
Now, this book is not for everyone, and that’s the point. Only a specific group of people, such as myself, will truly appreciate the lessons learned. As Seth points out, it’s better to find your target audience and treat them well. They will spread your ideas like a virus and bring in more like-minded people. So, I’m posting this blog to help share their message. Proceeds of their profit go to a good place, too. I sent David and Brian a thank you letter, and I was pleased to find out they they are friends with Seth as well. The more I learned about Brian, the more impressed I was. He is founder of a company, Hubspot and they have an annual conference called Inbound. I heard a general rule of blogging is to keep videos to a length of 3-4 minutes so I’m not going to post it here, but if you search youtube for “Inboud Brian Halligan” you will find some of his talks. Check out Inbound 2013 for a little Scarlett Begonias. I am not affiliated with Hubspot in anyway, I just like a good speech.
Thinking about this book got me thinking about Dead heads I’ve know that have grown up and have become successful. I meet a lot of Dead Heads on the disc golf course that work in trades, but I also know of a few popular celebrity dead Heads as well. Here we have 3 marketing geniuses. They are designing software book authors. Steve Jobs comes to mind for his hippie background and he definitely shaped the way we think about computing. There are some in the news, politics and even sports. They aren’t really nerds, these are a whole different class of intelligent, yet enlightened individuals moving our culture forward and optimizing use of the technology that is improving so fast. I’d love to hear comments from you guys about other successful hippies, whether they are famous or people you know in real life.