Radiohead - The King of LimbsEvery industry has it’s pioneers, the original thinkers who question old-school practices and successfully strike out in a new direction. In the music industry one of those pioneers is the band Radiohead, not just for their music but for their business practices.

Radiohead are fantastic inbound marketers. Sure, they rose to fame during the 90’s under a traditional record label model, but in the last decade they have thrown out the rule book and redefined music distribution.

In 2007 the band announced they were releasing their next album, In Rainbows, online via their website. The stunning news in this was that we could name our own price to download the new songs. Many took the songs for nothing but reportedly the average purchase was around AUD$10.

The concept created massive world-wide interest and coverage and ensured that the music was in global circulation overnight. The band also packaged up a CD and vinyl offering which could be ordered online for a set price or later found in traditional record stores.

A few months later the band released a new single and invited fans to mash-up the song themselves.

Last weekend Radiohead did it again, launching their new album King of Limbs online via their website. This time there was a set price, only AUD$9.60 (coincidence?) for the MP3 download, with a higher priced package including vinyl record and artwork that could be pre-ordered for May delivery.

The pre-order concept is brilliant. The band will likely generate millions of dollars in sales prior to pressing and releasing the packages in a few months, minimising stock wastage and maximising profits.

But how does this apply to your business? Many will argue that Radiohead are a very famous band with enormous following, so its easy for them to do, but I believe this applies to most businesses large or small.

Firstly, Radiohead have been longtime users of modern web technology. They have had innovative websites for a long time now. Crucially, they keep fans up-to-date with a steady stream of information. Their main site is a blog of comments, observations and information to engage visitors and promote discussion. They use video, images, off-the-wall banter, message walls and social media. The site is an open dialogue with their fans (customers).

Secondly,they use permission marketing effectively. If you have purchased or signed up via the Radiohead site in the past you are on their database. As a result you receive important information such as new album release or tour dates first. But the band doesn’t over-use the privilege of having your details, email updates are rare but very effective.

Thirdly, Radiohead understand the need to convert traffic to transaction efficiently. In just a few clicks you are able to buy /pre- order the album. This can be done from the post they used to announce the new offering, from a button in the navigation or the email you receive announcing the release. It’s quick, easy and efficient. Radiohead know that frustration equals lost sales.

Finally, this is a band who love to surprise and delight. After announcing the album would be available for download from Saturday, they decided to release it a day earlier to the delight of millions of fans. Smart.

Bands just starting out could build an audience and distribution network by following Radiohead’s lead. Its really the future of the music industry.

But business owners can also do the same. Post plenty of useful information, build a subscriber list of interested people and offer goods and services online through efficient e-commerce models. Taking control of your inbound marketing is the future of your business.

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Here at Sticky, we love Radiohead almost as much as we love effective inbound marketing. If you’d like to learn more about how your business could benefit from a professional inbound marketing strategy, contact us…we might have King of Limbs playing in the background.

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