Lose control of your marketing messages. A Grateful Dead concert was about having fun, meeting friends, checking out great music, escaping the everyday, belonging. Each person defined the experience a little differently, and the group defined the whole. There were interesting subgroups wandering along as part of the larger odyssey that was the Grateful Dead experience.
In building a community, the Grateful Dead were willing to give up a large degree of control over how they were defined and instead hand it to their fans. While this approach is highly unusual, it is also often very successful. When organizations insist on operating in a command-and-control environment with mission statements, boilerplate descriptions, messaging processes, and PR campaigns, their strategies can both hamper growth and backfire in execution.
Let your community define you, rather than trying to dictate what’s said – and how – about your company. When you let others define and talk about you, it is more likely that a community will develop.
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About the Authors
Since his first Grateful Dead show when he was a teenager in 1979, David Meerman Scott has seen the band perform over 40 times. David is a marketing strategist and a professional speaker. He is the author of the BusinessWeek bestselling book The New Rules of Marketing & PR and several other books. He speaks at conferences and corporate events around the world. He loves to surf (but isn’t very good at it), collects artifacts from the Apollo moon program, and maintains a database, with 308 entries at this writing, of every band he has seen in concert. He is a graduate of Kenyon College, where he listened to a heck of a lot of Grateful Dead in his dorm room.
Brian Halligan has seen the Grateful Dead perform more than 100 times. He is CEO & founder of HubSpot, a marketing software company that helps businesses transform the way they market products by “getting found” on the Internet. Brian is also coauthor of Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs and is an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at MIT. In his spare time, he sits on a few boards of directors, follows his beloved Red Sox, goes to the gym, and is learning to play guitar.