What Marketers Can Learn from The Beatles
I have been a Beatles fan my entire life. And yet a few months ago I was having a glass of wine with a colleague when he asked me, “Why do you like the Beatles?” I was baffled. Nobody had ever asked me why I like them. Doesn’t everybody? The question haunted me and sent me on an exploratory mission, helped greatly by the launch of SiriusXM’s “The Beatles Channel”.
I have immersed myself in the Beatles for the past 3 months intensely listening to real experts on Beatles lore give their spin on “Fab Four” fanaticism. After hours of listening to interviews and commentary about their music and the origins of their songs, I now have my answer. And I have reframed the question to, “What makes them so good that I never get tired of listening to them, never stop getting inspired by them and always find joy in their music?”
This is my Fab Four:
1. Their words are simple.
2. Their emotion is brave.
3.Their messages are relatable.
4.Their vulnerability is magnetic.
All together now.
Simple words: The most popular word in their lyrics is YOU followed closely by ME and LOVE. Now it’s possible that this would be true for all songs ever written, but I am struck by how the Beatles never made a simple idea complicated. They got their point across with “Take a sad song and make it better.” “In my life I loved you more.” And “She loves you and that ain’t bad.”
Brave emotion: They stir our souls with ideas that make us smile, cry and think. “Take these broken wings and learn to fly.” “Living is easy with eyes closed.” “Although she made me mad, I still love her.” “If you’re lonely you can talk to me.”
Universally relatable: They tell beautiful stories about experiences we all have, making us feel like we are not alone.
Why she had to go I don't know, she wouldn't say I said something wrong Now I long for yesterday
I've just seen a face.
I can't forget the time or place. Where we just met.
She's just the girl for me.
And I want all the world to see. We've met.
Magnetic vulnerability: They first performed on Ed Sullivan on February 9th, 1964. Men just didn’t wear emotions for the women they love on their sleeves. No wonder girls were screaming while the Beatles were singing:
Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you
tomorrow I will miss you
remember I will always be true.
Oh please, say to me You'll let me be your man And please, say to me
You'll let me hold your hand
Now I have a question—Why can’t marketers be more like the Beatles? Especially now when simplicity is lost in a sea of data that is making strategies more complex; bravery is stepped on in the face of competitive threats; relatability is set aside for the company point of view, and vulnerability is hidden behind sales pitches about product features most people don’t care about.
We once presented a purpose statement to a client that was about fear. It could have been a lyric from a Beatles song. After rounds of management approvals and research the word fear became uncertainties. Another client looking for a brand campaign was presented with an idea all about love, but this specificity would require giving up a broader platform of “emotional connections”. And we had a client with a platform about curiosity that was dumped in favor of a “harder hitting” message to drive brand linkage.
By contrast take Honey Maid’s bold stance to be “wholesome” and the brave campaign that celebrated all families as wholesome. And look at Oreos, whose mission is simply to “put more wonder in the world.” And Allstate’s Mayhem campaign focused on protection from Mayhem. Or, rewriting the rules about being a girl from a maxi-pad. These are ideas the Beatles could do a little yeah, yeah, yeah about. And they are ideas that created truly social brands.
My guitar gently weeps at their simplicity and the emotions they provoked.
So how about this for your data checklist:
Simple words a 9-year-old can understand
Emotions brave enough to wear on your sleeve
Ideas everyone can relate to, and,
A magnetic vulnerability that people want to scream about.
And…ask yourself…What would the Beatles do?
-Nina Abnee | Professional Coach/Adjunct Professor/Board Member/Creative Leader/Ad Woman