60 years and still going strong: what the pop charts can teach your business

The official UK singles charts are 60 years old this week, and it's fair to say the pop business is as resilient as any - it has survived shoulder pads, pedal pushers and a shed-load of Peter Andre after all.

So we've looked at the biggest pop acts of the moment so you can learn from them how best to connect with an audience.

Use your personality to drive your brand

Sometimes it doesn't matter if an artist lacks a unique voice - they'll still sell records as long as they're marketed correctly. One Direction aren't the only boy-band around, but they're the hottest on the planet right now because they're marketed cleverly. They wear the right clothes, say the right things, have the right faces. Pop stars create a brand and story around themselves and use it to sell records.

It's the same when it comes to products. Sometimes your product doesn't have to be completely unique to succeed. Just look at King of Shaves. It's not the only shaving product out there, nor does it have the biggest marketing budget. But it is likeable and creates an image that customers can buy into.

Founder of the company, Will King, made himself central to the business' brand. In doing so, he created a free source of advertising. He has branded himself the King of Shaves, has his own blog and his @kingofshaves Twitter account has almost 7,000 followers. King has made himself the face of his own product and created a more personal approach to his company that customers buy into.

This is a tactic used by tons of great entrepreneurs. Richard Branson has used his personal brand to astronomical success. He appears in most of the adverts for his businesses, and when people decide to use Virgin, they are buying into him as a brand.


The pop world has kept itself strong for over six decades by constantly diversifying and expanding into other industries. More modern stars have taken the trend to a whole new level of marketing magnificence. Diddy has a vodka brand, Britney has a perfume, Dr Dre has his Beats by Dr Dre headphones and Jay-Z owns the Brooklyn nets Basketball team, among a large number of other ventures.

Diversifying their product range helps to keep them relevant and can make them even more famous - not to mention the huge amounts of extra revenue these extra products pull in.

Although the opportunity to diversify on such a big scale may seem a long way off for your business, it's important to at least have a plan. One business that's done this expertly is EasyJet. Founder Stelios Haji-Ionnou has used the initial success of his first business to enable him to expand into EasyCar, EasyBus and EasyHotel, among other brands.


The next strategy from pop stars isn't new - it's one they've been using for years. Collaboration.  Coldplay have introduced themselves to younger fans by teaming up with Rihanna. Jay-Z and Kanye West saw their worth sky rocket (even further) after they collaborated on this year's Watch the Throne album.

In business, teaming up with another entrepreneur can elevate both of you to higher success levels.  Working with another business on an offer or event means your business will have its services promoted to customers of another brand, by that brand.  Find a partner with a similar target market to you, who can offer complementary services or products. For example, if you're a party planner you could partner with a caterer. Use each other's services whenever you can, and tell your clients about each other. Cut costs by doing contra deals with each other, and refer clients to each other - making the client's life more convenient while benefiting both your businesses.

Keep the conversation going on Twitter

Fans want contact with their heroes 24-7 across all time zones. It's not enough for Justin Bieber to pop up only when he has a new single out. If this were the case then fans would forget about him and move onto the next doe-eyed crooner.

The same goes in business: you shouldn't just speak to your customers when you want them to buy something. If you interact with them regularly you will build a relationship that means people feel a connection with your brand.

Pop stars master this by being in constant discussion with their fans through Twitter. It's very rare that a day passes without a surge of tweets, usually around the time school finishes, featuring #marrymeJustin, #canihavealocketofhairJustin, or something along those lines trending everywhere from London to the Outer Hebrides from followers known as the 'Beliebers'. At time of writing, this constant interaction with fans through Twitter has Beiber boasting 30,204,919 followers whom he can influence. That's more than Barack Obama, David Cameron and the British Monarchy put together.

If you want an example of a business nailing this marketing strategy right now, then check out Innocent Smoothies. Innocent have 89,000 followers and can be found discussing things such as how many calories can be burnt watching a scary film? And why do hedgehogs like bonfires? The brand isn't plugging its products, just keeping up an informal, welcoming conversation with its target market. That means that when they do send a tweet or message about a new product or offer, customers are more likely to read and buy it without feeling over-sold to.


So the pop charts might be cheesy, and sometimes you might look back and cringe, but it has developed and redeveloped to stay in business for over 60 years. With start-ups doing all they can to stay afloat, it could be time to try a few of the tactics that have helped the Beatles, Madonna and now Justin Bieber keep the pop chart alive.

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