Recently, international singing sensation Beyoncé made headlines and upended the entire music industry by taking a huge risk. She dropped a surprise album with absolutely no marketing, single releases, or even an accidental leak beforehand. Not only did she release a complete 14 song album that no one expected, but she also created 17 music videos to accompany each of the songs (and then some) on the album. Despite the fact that this album received no marketing other than a “Surprise!” on Beyoncé’s Instagram account as it was released on iTunes, it still managed to sell a record 365,000 copies on just the first day. Read on to learn about the four marketing lessons that you can learn from the success of this non-marketing strategy.
The first lesson that we can learn from the success of Beyoncé’s surprise album is the power of social media. This album was introduced to the public entirely through the halo effect – one person posted about it, then two more, then four more, etc. Even celebrities such as Katy Perry and Lady Gaga helped promote the new album by talking about it on social media.
Beyoncé also used her own social media presence on Instagram, complete with over 8 million followers, to announce the release of the album the moment it happened. This is an example of a brand using social media the right way – Beyoncé herself stated that her goal with this surprise album was to “speak directly to my fans.” Rather than shamelessly promoting her work, Beyoncé relied on her engagement with loyal fans to sell her new album.
Another lesson marketers can learn from the success of Beyoncé’s album is that the element of surprise works. A surprise release, especially when it is only announced on one social media channel, makes customers feel as though they have access to something exclusive. Furthermore, surprises create buzz. While it can be difficult to keep a major new release a secret, following through with such a campaign will pay off in the end.
From the release of this album, we also learn that not marketing is a viable marketing tactic. In the music industry, a new album is generally preceded by a strategically executed marketing strategy, including the release of singles, radio interviews, commercials, and more. With her new album, Beyoncé went against the grain, actually drawing more attention by not going along with the typical marketing strategy style.
Another lesson that the success of this album teaches us is the fact that visual content draws consumers in and keeps them engaged. When Beyoncé posted her “Surprise!” message on Instagram, she provided a short video clip from the album that generated a ton of excitement amongst her fans. Furthermore, Beyoncé herself stated that she created these videos because “I see music. It’s more than just what I hear.” With this statement, Beyoncé perfectly explains why visual content is such a powerful tool.