I came across this video of David Grohl (Foo Fighters/Nirvana) in my Facebook feed giving advice to aspiring musicians and bands. The implications for a startup business are undeniable. If you're offended by profanity, do not watch this video. Let's just say the Rock & Roll vernacular includes a few four-letter words. However, don't miss out on his incredible advice. I'll break down his message into some bite-sized nuggets below. But, watch the video first.
1. JUST GO PLAY LIVE
- excellent performance trumps product placement.
Application: If you can really deliver an excellent product or service, you will find an audience.
2. YOU HAVE TO BE BADASS.
That doesn't mean you have to be perfect. Dave talked about being entertaining as a drummer by playing really hard, even though he'll be the first to admit he didn't have the most technical chops. He made up for it with his incredible passion. Passion trumps perfection every time!
3. IF YOU'RE DOING IT AS ITS OWN REWARD, YOU CAN'T NOT BE SUCCESFUL.
Dave was having a blast getting to do what he loved to do, regardless of the size of the audience and despite his musical shortcomings. Do you honestly feel the same way about your company? your culture? your team? Are you doing it because you're passionate about it? Do you believe in it that much? Or, is success defined solely by a revenue goal? Is your ultimate goal to sell out anyway? Or, do you really believe in the product or service you're providing to your customers? What's your mission? If you don't have a clear mission statement, vision, and defined values for your company, you might make some money, but you'll never be truly successful.
4. IF A BAND BLOWS YOU AWAY, YOU'LL FOLLOW THAT BAND.
Sports fans are a little different than music fans. When you're a fan of a sports team, it's almost an invitation for misery in your life. At some point, they might have done something great to win your loyalty, but sooner or later, the team is going to struggle. These seasons of hardship will separate the casual fans from the die-hard fans. Music fans are a bit tougher to win. But, they provide a better metaphor for your business. A band needs to blow you away and consistently deliver. I'll paraphrase a Bono quote, "You can't put out 2 crap albums, at least in a row. Your fans will forgive one, but 2 and they're done." That's probably more accurate for your company. Your customers are a bit more fickle, and you probably have some competition. How do you build customer loyalty? I know firsthand, bands only succeed and grow by making fans. So does your business. At SYRUP MARKETING, we call them champions. Not only do they love you themselves, but they become sales and marketing assets by telling their friends about you too. Here's the truth. If you're really awesome, you'll attract fans, brand evangelists and champions, and that should be just as much a part of your marketing plan as any PR initiatives. Need advice on how to do it? Call me. I'll help. (Seriously, my phone number is in my LinkedIn profile.)
5. YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO ON A SINGING SHOW.
Just as Grohl is encouraging bands to go build their own audience, you should too. Are you going to give up because you didn't land that 1st, 2nd, or 10th Angel investor? Are you going to quit because your series A funding fell short? Or, are you so committed to what you have to offer to the world that you're going to make it no matter what, even if you have to forge your own path? Go blow people away. Hustle! Maybe you don't fit the normal format. Go do it anyway. Do you think Taylor Swift would have won American Idol? Not a Chance! Do you think U2 or Bob Dylan or The Foo Fighters would have made it on The Voice? NO WAY! U2 could barely get signed.
Now, they've been the biggest band in the world for 30 years. But, they made their own audience and have won raving fans by doing it, with passion, on their own terms.
Every band starts out as a startup. Maybe your startup needs to start acting more like a young, hungry band!