Blog Feature

By: D'Amelio Network on July 6th, 2015

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Grateful Dead’s Content Marketing Strategy


The Grateful Dead capped off their amazing career in Chicago this weekend with three record-setting sellout shows that were also broadcast to scores of sites around North America.  Financial estimates for the weekend (including merchandising) have ranged from $40-45 million. Talk about going out with a bang!

DAVID MEERMAN SCOTT, who co-authored Marketing Lessons of the Grateful Dead, was on hand for all three historic shows.  David’s a huge fan (obviously) and filled me in on the amazing experience.

Last week David published a commentary on the Dead that looked at their success from a marketing perspective.  In the end, the Dead were much more than a just a successful rock outfit; they were a cultural phenomenon that owed their success to a counterintuitive marketing philosophy. What can we learn about growing business from the legendary Dead?  “Make it free,” says Scott who added “The Grateful Dead used free content to build a social network of fans before Mark Zuckerberg was even born. They pioneered many of the ideas we now use in social media and had a content marketing strategy long before the term existed.”

Want some fascinating reading on the subject?  Here’s a link to David’s enlightening commentary Make it free: 50 Years of Content Marketing Grateful Dead Style.  In it David looks at the band’s astounding success and how they managed to capture the hearts and minds of millions of loyal fans who followed them everywhere.  At a time when bands and venues confiscated recording equipment and cameras, the Dead gave their fans free license to record pretty much at will.  There are without a doubt more bootleg recordings of the Dead than anyone from their era. You’d think all those recordings would have cannibalized their record sales and undercut their success but the exact opposite was true.

In his speeches David Meerman Scott draws on several examples from the Dead — showing how the Dead were years ahead of the marketing and influence curve. David is a master at showing how content marketing and a real-time mindset can turbo charge sales and boost interest in your product, service or ideas.

The Dead may be gone – but their marketing lessons live on, and on!

Oh – and this just in: here’s David’s post-concert commentary for your reading pleasure.