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#70: Product Marketing (Taylor's Version)

Launch lessons from the tortured product marketers department

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This week belongs to Taylor Swift.

She launched her 11th studio album — The Tortured Poets Department — which turned out to be a surprise double album!!! Sleepless nights, indeed.

Taylor was also the subject of this week’s Ready for Launch podcast episode (IYKYK). And so I thought it was only fitting she be the topic of this newsletter, too.

Yes, I’m a Swiftie. BUT I’ve also been studying her marketing strategies with a fine tooth comb the past few years. She’s an absolute master in building demand, driving community-led growth, and launching products.

In today’s edition, I’m going to make my case for why Taylor is the best marketer of our time.

(Plus, read to the end for a fun marketing spin on the album’s song titles).

Are you ready for it?

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Product Marketing (Taylor’s Version)

I am dying for a documentary about Taylor Swift’s marketing tactics. She’s cryptic. She’s clever. And she’s an all-out mastermind.

Her most recent album launch is a perfect representation of many of the different techniques she’s used over the past few years. Here’s what I loved about this launch 👇🏻

She Highjacked a Marketable Moment

Taylor owned the Grammy's this year; she masterfully turned the world’s attention her way.

First, the morning of the event, she changed all of her social media profile pictures to black and white images. This immediately drew attention and made fans think that an announcement of Reputation (Taylor’s Version) was on the horizon.

Then, her website went down. But, it wasn’t actually down. Instead, she hid an error message that was actually a word puzzle. When solved, it said “red herring”.

So now the entire Swiftie universe is buzzing. Something. Is. Happening. By the time she hits the red carpet, fans are on the edge of their seats.

She wins an award, and instead of giving a regular acceptance speech, she announces her new album. Within 24 hours, her post on Instagram sharing the album cover gets 13 million likes and the album surpassed the first hour pre-orders for her last album Midnights in less than half the time.

What I loved about the Grammy’s event takeover was she anchored her new product to her past success. She basically said, “Love this Grammy-winning album? I’ve got another masterpiece ready to go.” It was the ultimate testimonial.

She Created Buzz Before and After the Announcement

Every detail of Taylor’s launches are intentional and intended to drive fan attention. Or, at least, they feel that way. Here are a few examples:

  • The album dropped April 19th. That’s exactly one year to the date when her best friends Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds unfollowed her ex Joe on Instagram

  • The name of the album has been said to hint at Joe’s old WhatsApp group, The Tortured Man’s Club

  • The theme of the album — literary, dark academia — has driven constant conversation (she calls the music files, rather than songs)

  • She announced four special editions of the album, each with its own artwork and exclusive song. She dripped these out over a series of weeks to keep the drumbeat going

  • The color scheme of the album has even been talked about. If Reputation was the beginning of her relationship with Joe, then Tortured Poets is the end. They are two bookends, and she plays off their similarities (they are both black and white)

She (Over) Delivers on Value

Many companies can build hype ahead of time, but fall flat on launch day. Taylor delivered, and then some.

The day of launch (Friday) the album drops at midnight. Then at 2am she announces it’s actually a double album with 31 songs. Talk about over-delivering.

She also uses the attention and energy of launch day to drop her first music video for the album. This allows her to tap into a channel (video) that her music can’t do on its own, driving even more conversation and social shares.

Whether you love her or love to hate her, there’s no denying Taylor Swift is a marketing queen 👑 And, with Tortured Poets, she isn’t just launching a new album — she’s launching a new era (see what I did there 😉).


My friend re-wrote all of Taylor’s song titles from Tortured Poets, but in marketing speak. Which one’s your fave?

  • 1) Legal Approval Took a Fortnight (feat. Post Malone)

  • 2) The Tortured Marketing Department

  • 3) My Boy Only Breaks After Procurement

  • 4) Organic LinkedIn Reach Is Down Bad

  • 5) "We're leaving EMEA" So Long, London

  • 6) But Daddy The CEO Loves Unrealistic Pipeline Goals

  • 7) Legal: "Who Approved This??" — Fresh Out the Slammer

  • 8) Florida!!! (feat. Florence + The Content Machine)

  • 9) Overbudget in Q2 Already: Guilty as Sin?

  • 10) Salesforce: Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?

  • 11) I Can Optimize Him (No Really I Can A/B Test)

  • 12) loml (lots of manual labor in Marketo)

  • 13) "Re: last edit" I Can Do It With a Broken Heart

  • 14) "Make the Logo Bigger: The Smallest Who Ever Lived"

  • 15) The Alchemy: "Just make it go viral"

  • 16) Clara [From Legal] Did Not Bow To Our Asks

  • 17) The Black Dog from Finance

  • 18) Retargeting ads: imgonnagetyouback

  • 19) The Albatross of Vanity Metrics

  • 20) Hey FNAME! Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus

  • 21) How Did This Campaign End Up a Disaster?

  • 22) Who even measures NPS? So High School

  • 23) MS Teams: I Hate It Here -- Buy Slack

  • 24) DMing your marketing bestie: thanK you alMee

  • 25) I Look in People’s Browser Windows Every Zoom Call

  • 26) The Prophecy: Your Budget Will Get Cut

  • 27) Bad Data Make Cassandra a Sad Panda

  • 28) Poor Leadership Choices for $500, Peter

  • 29) The Bolter: "Can I pick your brain?" RUN

  • 30) Sales Keep Robin' My Marketing Budget

  • 31) The LinkedIn Pitchslap Manuscript: "15 min call?"

Now excuse me while I go listen to the album again for the 10th time. Promise we’ll get back to our regularly-scheduled programming next week.

Tamara Grominsky

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