With the Eras Tour being released in theaters on Friday October 13th, there’s plenty of buzz going around. After all, Taylor has become a superstar in her own right. She’s come a long way from her early days as a country musician and branching out into other genres. She took shade from Kanye West in 2009 and handled the situation with grace and always focused on the things that mattered in her career. She never sank to the lows of Miley Cyrus for a while and kept her image classy, while having some charm for the fellas to admire too. Of course, she’s had some controversies, but she was always savvy enough to overcome such obstacles.
But that’s not the point of this post. I want to know if Taylor Swift is the greatest marketer of all time. Hear me out on this one. How else could she amass a fanbase of “Swifties” who are so devoted and passionate when it comes to her music? How was it that even I could get into several of her albums and gasp, like them? Folklore was great, besides that lame Bon Iver song, and I could not get tunes like “Out of the Woods” out of my head.
Songs I Constantly Reference from Taylor Swift
I still constantly reference it sometimes in conversation. Songs like “Shake It Off” offer much encouragement for those dealing with online haters. And even her earlier work, which I wasn’t into at the time has some merit. It’s a Pennsylvania-raised adolescent turned adult finding her place in the world, going through the motions and starting with a genre she felt most comfortable with and then gradually experimenting as she built more self-confidence.
Yes, even a jazz, funk, and R&B maniac can find value in the messages of Taylor Swift and her many tales of heartbreak, disappointment, and life experiences with the opposite gender and other human flaws. This is a very different post than the ones I’ve published here on the blog, but I’ve always wanted to do a deep dive on Taylor and her rise to stardom and what digital marketers can learn from her. You’d never expect someone like me to dig her music, but I’m looking at this from the perspective of a seasoned marketer first, and then a fan.
Case in Point: Taylor Swift’s Capital One Commercial
It’s just a Capital One ad on paper, but there’s more to it than that. When I see commercials like this, it gives me a chance to see the real personality behind the musician. Swift isn’t afraid to dress up, take selfies with fans, and seems like a super nice person to be around in real life. It’s not every day you have such a famous figure with tons of money to her name be this approachable.
I’ve heard stories that Taylor was delighted to bake for her fans and thank them in person. She has learned to set her ego aside and give her fans what they want: attention, praise, and dedication to making more music.
This ad kinda reminds me of this old American Express commercial with Mel Blanc:
Like Taylor, Mel Blanc was humble about his own talents when he was alive. He’s never trying to brag to you that he voiced some of the most iconic characters back in the 1940s and 1950s for Warner Bros. He’s even poking fun at the fact that no one knows him. This commercial was shot in the 1980s, during the last decade of Mel’s life. You would think someone of his magnitude would be showing off himself, but no, Mel is the same person he has always been in real life. And I get the same feeling with Taylor when I see media with her in it.
Tons of Viral Marketing for Taylor’s Work
Another cool thing about Swift and her discography is that she barely has to lift a finger, and everyone talks about her. She has a very devoted subreddit, too, where you can find fans from all demographics, genders, and ages discuss her albums in depth. Right now, this subreddit has nearly a million members and is ranked in the Top 1% on all of Reddit.
I haven’t seen this much enthusiasm for a musician in years, besides maybe Beyonce or for a brief time, Justin Bieber, who I barely know anything about to this day, but remember when his song “Baby” was popular in the early 2010s.
Unlike Bieber, Swift has continued to remain relevant for years, always reinventing herself and trying something new. It’s what got me interested in checking out her catalog deeper and not writing her off as just a country musician like I was doing before.
It’s not a coincidence even big companies like State Farm have taken notice and have tried cashing in on “Taylormania.” I found this article on MarketingDive, and they had this to say:
“State Farm capitalized on the mania surrounding a rumored relationship between Taylor Swift and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce at the Eagles-Washington Commanders game Sunday, according to details shared with Marketing Dive.”
Even Taylor’s personal life is media fodder and enough to garner attention. I don’t think she did this on purpose, but just goes to show how much staying power she has. I’m sure Marilyn Monroe had to put up with the mere mention of her name attracting massive attention from the press. I see the same thing happening here.
Speaking Out on Causes that Matter and Generating Even More Buzz Around Her Brand!
Another great thing Swift does is speak her mind on certain causes and motivate her fans to act, like when she made her opinion on voting heard. According to NPR, she made a post on Instagram telling her 272 million followers to register to vote. Vote.org was mentioned and said they received a 23% jump in sign-ups on National Voter Registration Day. This is unheard of by any musician I’ve witnessed in the modern day. It would be like Al Jolson singing a song about electing Harry Truman to be president, oh wait, he did!
Swift has become more than another entertainer, but a vehicle for social change. Yes, she’s in this to make money too like anyone else, but few musicians can claim to have had as much impact on real-world affairs as her.
Other Ways Taylor Swift Markets Herself
I can go on about the many other ways Swift markets herself to the public. She had the foresight to leave Big Machine Records and rerecord a lot of her older material to further control her intellectual property. This shows me that she has strong business acumen and is avoiding falling into the same trap Michael Jackson fell into. You probably know about that whole fiasco with Sony Music, but I’ll have to analyze that mess another day here on the blog. Let’s stay on topic and keep talking about Taylor.
Also, Swift is known for leaving many hints for her fans to go nuts over when it comes to potential album releases. Often, you can find these hints in her own music videos or on her talk show appearances. Swift was also smart enough to build a loyal fanbase from the start and continue to offer her audience content that speaks to them.
Whether they are long-time fans or people getting into her for the first time, she had the foresight to realize that she needed to record a variety of music. I even joked that one day she would pull a Lady Gaga and record a big band and swing album with orchestrations of all her greatest hits and modern takes on old standards like “Tenderly” and “All the Things You Are” to have even more cross-appeal. I honestly think she might be able to pull it off, but I can only dream.
Taylor Swift is more than just a musician. She’s a literal force to be reckoned with as a marketer. Whether she is the greatest marketer of all time, however, depends on your definition and is subjective to opinion and debate. I would think that she’s at least right up there with some of the other celebrities in American history who used their power and clout to champion social causes, like Elizabeth Taylor. She draws huge crowds to her concerts, and this is no accident. Swift has worked incredibly hard to get to where she is, and I don’t see any signs of her slowing down either.
Whatever path she takes with her musical career next, I guarantee the Swifties will follow. And that’s what you can learn from Taylor Swift and her marketing prowess!