This week on my ‘things to achieve’ list, I included watching Never Say Never, a documentary film exploring hair flipping heartthrob Justin Bieber. It wasn’t a social experiment to see how many people would gather around the boardroom table to watch The Biebs, as much as it was a study in social marketing of people. The movie explores the branding and creation of the teen music sensation that rose from relative obscurity to household name through careful, targeted marketing execution. Here are 5 things that I learned from watching the movie.
1. You’re only as good as your team.
Who is Scooter Braun?
Scooter is everything to Justin. Scooter not only discovered Justin after seeing a YouTube video he quickly realized that the only way Justin could become a star was by surrounding him with great people. Scooter connected Justin with a superstar, a vocal coach, a stylist, a dance crew and a social media director. All of the people around Justin helped to make him this successful.
The takeaway from this: surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. If you’re an A employee, hire an A+ player. Innovation and growth in your company will only happen when you begin to change and challenge the things you do every day. For this to happen you not only need motivation you need a challenge. Justin’s was selling out Madison Square Gardens.
2. Work smarter, work harder.
Whether you’re a brand or an artist to gain success you need to go out and work for it. This was one of the biggest preconceptions that we all had going into the screening of this movie. We believed that Justin’s star rose quickly: from YouTube to contact in mere weeks. Wrong.
Justin attended 143 different venues, going to radio stations, high schools, charity events, water parks and shopping malls. Then after all that he went on tour and did an additional 84 stops, living in a bus. He became a superstar because he and his team were relentless workers who believed in a common goal.
3. Social activation transforms listeners into lovers.
There are numerous times in the movie where you see Justin tweeting and interacting on social media with no guidance. Before watching the movie I thought that there would be more control over the daily things he did online. But instead, Justin is much more authentic and real than many other brands on Twitter. He gets sick, he says mean things and he is going to make mistakes and he’ll say sorry more than once over his career.
Every CEO and every business owner needs to be more social – truly, authentically social. If you were the head of company wouldn’t you want to know what people actually thought of your brand? Wouldn’t you want to engage with them where they are? A connection on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Path, Foursquare or YouTube is worth something to the person you’re connecting with. It means that you’re listening and engaging with them on their terms.
4. Stay hungry. Stay open.
Justin listened. As we get older and gain more experience we struggle at times to remember how we got there. Sometimes it’s important for us to act more like 16-year-olds and be open to change. Our experience is valuable, but it tends to be coupled with doubt. This is when we hear ourselves say “we’ve tried that before,” or “they’ll never go for that.” Be open. Know that the world is changing so radically that new ideas and innovative problem solving are the best ways to be successful. At the risk of being too punny: Never Say Never.
5. Be human.
Justin makes extra effort to connect with people whether it’s on social networks, at concerts or during his off time. Him and his team give out free tickets to fans before every concert and make an effort to connect with fans one to one as much as possible. He respects the fact that millions of people care for him; therefore he returns the favor and thanks them for their loyalty.
One of the most interesting takeaways from the movie is the notion that he was successful because each fan had a personal connection with him. They believed that they discovered him first – before the record companies and before the marketing machine. He belonged to them. This is the difference between push and pull. This is what forms emotional connections with brands that go beyond reason.
Concluding, I want to end with a quote from Guy Kawasaki who was the first innovation director at Apple. “As a brand ask yourself; do we own the segment that were going after as well as Justin Bieber owns the segment of 9-16 year old girls?”