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#14: 3 Launch Lessons from Taylor Swift

I’ve been waiting for this week for 122 days.

On Friday, I head to Las Vegas to see Taylor Swift’s new Eras Tour.

And whether you’re a Swiftie riding high on the release of her most recent Midnights album or someone whose own personal version of hell is listening to 10 minutes of All Too Well, there’s no denying Taylor Swift is a marketing genius.

In today’s edition we’ll look at her latest stint and how it led to a sold out tour before tickets even hit the public market.

Generating Demand

Launching without demand is hard. Marketing messages fall flat; only a trickle of leads come in.

This is why as product marketers, we know it’s so important to seed the market ahead of a large product launch. It increases our chance of success on launch day, and leads to more buzz.

Taylor Swift is building the ultimate playbook on how to leverage existing advocate support to build future demand. The Verified Fan pre-sale for her recent tour is proof of this.

Hear me out.

Ticketmaster required all Swifties who wanted access to early tickets to pre-register for the chance to receive a code, that would then give them the chance to purchase tickets. That's a lot of steps to just get the opportunity to buy tickets, but fans jumped at it.

The waitlist opened the day Taylor announced her tour dates, and instantly generated buzz among fans. People were asking their friends to sign up just to increase their odds of having access to a code (guilty as charged 🙈).

The result? Swifties crashed the internet in late November trying to buy tickets.

Now, one could argue that Taylor Swift tickets would sell out regardless, but the level of free publicity and awareness she drove from this strategy was priceless, and went well beyond ticket sales.

3 Launch Lessons from Tay Tay

Unfortunately, we’re not all superstars with a large fanbase. But, I bet you’d be surprised by how much hidden value is just waiting to be unlocked in your customer and brand advocates.

So, what can we learn from Taylor?

Identify your true fans

Think of this as a very specific segmentation exercise (like Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 true fans). Who are your brand or product’s biggest advocates? These may be customers, influencers, employees or someone else entirely. Figure out who they are, and how to reach them. Brainstorm creative ways you can leverage their support to drive awareness with others in their network.

Build pre-launch buzz

You can't expect to open the doors on launch day and have an overwhelming response if we haven't properly primed the market first. This is why I'm such a fan of the rolling thunder approach to product launches. Work alongside your advocates to drip feed them value days, if not weeks, ahead of launch. And make sure you’re giving them plenty of opportunities to share their excitement, and feedback, publicly.

Launch with a waitlist

Building a waitlist of warm leads ahead of launch is an underused launch strategy. But, the benefits of a waitlist are massive. First, it will help you size the current level of demand for your product. If engagement with your waitlist is low, you can probably expect launch day engagement to be low as well. But, at least now you have time to fix it. Second, a waitlist gives you a group of highly engaged fans you can nurture to amplify success on launch day (meaning you’ll have buzz right out the door). Bonus points if you add gamification that allows them to skip up the line.

I’m curious - have you used any of Taylor’s tactics successfully in the past? DM me with some of your favorite techniques to generate buzz ahead of launch, and I’ll feature it in a future edition.

Now, excuse me while I go read through the 44-song set list ahead of this week’s concert.