unexpected marketing from abraham lincoln to beyonce

Unexpected Marketing Lessons from the Unexpected: Abraham Lincoln to Beyoncé

You may not realize it, but almost everything can be a marketing tact. You can find inspiration (or even a muse) anywhere! And, you can do almost anything to put your company out there. There are several celebrities and figures from our past who can teach us a lot and give us some marketing lessons. When you’re talking about storytelling and getting people engaged in your content (pathos) you have so much wiggle-room to be creative and expand the way you handle marketing. Maybe somewhat unexpectantly, there are a couple of people that we can take a few cues from.

Marketing Lessons from the *Very* Unexpected

We’re diving straight into Kanye West, Abraham Lincoln, Beyoncé, and Eleanor Roosevelt. It’s an eclectic group of people, but they all teach us something different when we look at what they are doing, or what they did, from a marketing perspective.

Resonate with your audience and pick a platform that will spark conversation.

Thanks, Kanye.

Kanye is not on every social media outlet. He’s on Twitter (following only his wife) and that’s it. He knows his audience isn’t on Facebook, so why bother with it? This is important when you’re deciding to create social platforms for your company. Though many businesses want to launch every social platform to post on, the smart thing to do is use the ones that your audience is using. If your audience isn’t on Twitter, don’t spend time posting on there. Maybe they’re on LinkedIn or Facebook instead.

Sure, Kanye has the upper hand of being a celebrity and taking his fans to whatever platform he chooses, but when you think about what’s smart for your brand, your audience is the main consideration. Another lesson to take from Kanye is having a creative, rule-breaking way to get across to your audience. Kanye has created content that people are excited for. He announces the dates for his merch and music releases and does things that rile people up. We’re not saying to go full-on Kayne, but think about what will excite your audience and how to convey messages differently. You don’t have to be so stiff.

Preparation will save you a lot of “(wo)man hours”

Former President Abraham Lincoln can teach us a thing or two about planning and preparation in marketing. Ever heard of the Gettysburg Address? That’s because Lincoln was known for his oratory skills and that speech in 1863 became the most quoted speech in U.S. history. He also once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the ax.” Whoa.

What does that mean though and how can your brand use that? When you’re thinking of starting your ad campaigns—or anything to do with your company—it’s all about the hours of prep. The more time you put into solidifying your plan and going over what you want to achieve, the less time you’ll spend on the actual execution. Having those millions of (dreaded) meetings and hours of prepping and talking everything out will be beneficial in the end. Your message and your goals are more likely to be clear. And, instead of running a ton of ads, you can run ads that will achieve more and be more impactful to your audience.

Don’t underestimate the element of surprise

She dominates everything she touches and has 24 hours in a day just like the rest of us. We can learn a lot from Beyoncé. We’ll start with a marketing tactic that she’s now popular for the element of surprise. This one may be a lot harder to achieve, depending on where you are as a business—but it can be done!

When Beyoncé released her album “Lemonade” there wasn’t an announcement. She left no hints as to what she was doing or when you could expect something new from her. Why did this work? Well, for one, the music industry is so used to publishing release dates. You can pre-order an album on Apple music and know exactly when something is coming. But, Beyoncé reversed that and did the unexpected: she released her album (and visual album) and just let things happen.

This can work on any level—you just have to be creative and really innovative. Think way outside the box. This of course also requires excellent timing. But, you can excite and surprise your consumers by doing something completely opposite. You have to have an understanding of what your audience and other consumers in that industry expect and then flip it.

Practice creative innovation as much as you can

We owe this last lesson to Eleanor Roosevelt. She was a woman who completely redefined the roles of a First Lady during 1933-1945. That took incredible foresight and innovation. It also took her strong will to not follow in the footsteps before her and create a First Lady brand she believed in. And essentially, that’s what she did—she created an entirely new brand for the First Lady.

Your marketing team or ad campaign can (and should) redefine expectations. This goes along with Beyoncé’s lesson. Notably, you have to remember that great marketing is always looking to disrupt. While Mrs. Roosevelt was challenging her post with broadcasts and press conferences, your brand can challenge the industry (or yourself) to redefine the ways your message can be portrayed.

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