What The Grateful Dead can teach health brand marketers


Zig (meaningfully) when others Zag.

This is the one big lesson for health brand marketers to take away from David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan’s book “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn From the Most Iconic Band In History.”

Early on in their careers, The Grateful Dead decided the best way to grow a religion-like following and legacy was to jettison the traditional rock band business model. While others focused on selling albums, they made their money from concerts. This led to a cascade of business-model breaking/money-making decisions: unique concerts each night, fans wanting to experience this uniqueness on consecutive nights, approval to make tapes of the concerts and freely share them (and more concerts equaled more tapes, more people exposed to the music and more people paying for concert tickets).

According to David, The Grateful Dead let their audience define the Grateful Dead experience. Concerts were a happening, where all 20,000 or more audience members were actually part of the experience. Making fans an equal partner in a mutual journey, The Dead teaches us that our community defines who we are. By studying the competition and doing the exact opposite, they created a brand that has stood the test of time and has outlived the competition.

It seems the Grateful Dead saw the value in “community and co-creation” long before the rest of us, along with the importance of zigging (meaningfully) while others zag.

Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, a brand and marketing firm specializing in creating momentum for businesses across the health + wellness continuum. The common threads are consumers who want to get well, stay well and play well, and brands that fulfill these aspirations and goals.

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