Marketing Lessons from Lollapalooza

Aug 08, 2019 • Aaron Goldman

Back in May I shared marketing lessons from NOT watching Game of Thrones after the finale aired. They were awesomely alliterative – metaphors magnify, live lives, social spoils, TV tilts, convergence crows – and, if nothing else, showed that inspiration’s infinite. This past weekend another event took place that I didn’t experience firsthand but managed to draw marketing insight nonetheless.

For the 15th straight year, Lollapalooza was held in Chicago’s Grant Park and for the 5th straight year I didn’t go. As my kids are hitting teendom I’m sure my streak will end soon. In the meantime, I’m sticking to watching highlights on YouTube and publishing marketing lessons. Here’s my top 5 of the latter…

  1. There’s wisdom in every crowd. Lolla may be getting older but its audience is getting younger. When your customers’ average age goes down, you might assume they’re less sophisticated and, therefore, your marketing doesn’t need to be as clever. But the inverse is actually true. The younger your audience skews the harder you have to work to capture their attention and inspire them to action.
  2. Audiences are not one-size-fits-all. The Lolla starter pack may be standard issue but you can’t judge a person by appearance only. Sophisticated segmentation and tailored targeting require deep insight. You have to get in the heads of your customers and connect with their core values.
  3. You can’t keep all your content gated. Once you have a keen understanding of what your audience wants and create compelling assets to engage them, you have to make that content accessible. In the case of Lolla, posting highlights to YouTube is one way to give people a flavor of the festival. For the stuff you do want to keep behind a paywall, though, you’ll want to make sure it’s not easily breached.
  4. Brands must evolve or perish. Lollapalooza was formed as a farewell tour for Jane’s Addiction. In its early years the lineup was heavy on alt rock but it’s expanded to many other genres of music and added comedy, dance, crafts, and more. You’ve got to hand it to Perry Farrell for finding a way to continually innovate and stay relevant. As a marketer, you can gain an upper-hand on your competition by anticipating the needs of your customers and being willing to reinvent your brand.
  5. Everyone is on a journey. I took some flak from Jonathan Bouquet in The Guardian for my quote in last week’s press release about how video enables storytelling throughout the “customer journey.” While I may have deserved said flak for being a PR flack I stand by my use of journey to describe the winding road people go down when deciding which brands to buy. Hey, at least I didn’t call it a funnel! When it comes to Lolla, despite there being tens of thousands of people at any given stage, each attendee experiences the show individually. The event is truly a journey and the imperative, especially for those going all four days, is to pace yourself. Oh, and stay hydrated. That’s good advice for marketers too.

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