What Taylor Swift Has to Do With Your Business

Did you hear Taylor Swift pulled all her music from Spotify? (Bet you never thought I’d start a post with a Taylor Swift reference…)

It turns out that, if the industry’s projections are correct, Swift’s new album, 1989, will be the only album to sell over 1 million copies this year. Compare that to over 100 albums that were released and certified platinum in 2004—just ten years ago.

For my own part, in my former life as a Borders Books & Music manager, I remember when music sales made up a solid part of our bottom line (also 2004 for anyone who’s keeping track). Then I remember music becoming a pretty low priority in terms of sales, marketing, and merchandising. Finally, I remember when we stopped. selling. music.

I can’t tell you when I bought my last CD but I’m sure it was while I was still working for Borders and probably well before I left the company in 2008. But the point of this post isn’t to bemoan that no one buys music anymore. I love watching giant industries evolve and adapt—even if the music industry is one that’s done it incredibly poorly.

The point of my post is this: big artists just aren’t as big as they used to be.

And yet, there are still plenty of successful people making an impact with their music, creating work for legions of loyal fans, and living the lifestyles they dreamed about as kids.

Taylor Swift might just be the last success story of the traditional “get big” machine. It’s just not how the industry works anymore. Bands who know what’s good for them don’t wait around to get picked by some A&R guy from a big name label. They make their success happen organically.

They play shows in people’s living rooms, they develop connections with promoters, they find fun new ways to engage with their budding fan base. And they do it all little bit by little bit, putting the emphasis on the work & the fans, not on the waiting.

The good news is that plenty of musicians are still making a living from music. They’re just doing it in different, more creative ways.

Now, what does this have to do with your business? I wonder how long you’ve waited to have your big idea picked up by someone with the clout, connections, and audience to help you make it big. I wonder how long you’ve sat on a great idea because you wanted to take it to the big time instead of starting small. I wonder how long you’ve told yourself that your business model would work when you got big instead of figuring out an abundant model for being successful at a smaller size.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “anti-big.” I’m very, very pro-big. But I have also seen time & time again how big starts much smaller than we want to believe. We want to believe that someone will pick us. We want to believe that our big break is just around the corner.

But more times than not, the brands that are big today were functioning at a much smaller size just a few years ago.

It’s not a matter of putting in your time, it’s a matter of putting your work in the hands of people who help you get better, bigger, and more abundant to facilitate your growth. And those people aren’t taste-makers, they’re customers.

If that sounds like the right strategy for your business, I want to invite you to join me for The Living Room Strategy. It’s a bootcamp on taking your idea to market in a creative way that starts making an impact and putting money in your pocket… now, not later.

Click here to find out more and to register.

How Wedge15 Used The Living Room Strategy to Make an Impact and Make Money Fast, Too

Your goal is simple: take your big idea to market.

But do you ever feel overwhelmed with the idea of putting your ideas, your aesthetics, even a career’s worth of expertise into a product or service offering? For many, it can be paralyzing. Instead of figuring out how to make money fast, you’re stuck on a mental hamster wheel that may or may not pay any kind of dividend down the road.

Couple that with the images of content marketers, startup founders, and idea people crushing it with big launches, fancy websites, and [potentially] crazy price tags; it only makes it worse. You want to do your ideas justice. You want to pay your bills. And, if you’re anything like me, you feel your competitive spirit starting to morph from helpful to harmful.

How to Use the Living Room Strategy to Make Money Fast

The good news is that big ideas don’t start big. They start small. Their creators tap into the essence of the idea—the very reason people need it to begin with—and create the minimum.

Creating the bare minimum is a great way to make money fast in a way that’s sustainable, honest, and strategic.

Businesses you know and love started this way. Think Facebook, Dropbox, Google, DailyWorth, Mailchimp … the list could go on and on. They turned the a simple “make money fast” strategy into big impact and long-term revenue growth.

Yet, time and again, we try to do better and go big right out of the gate.

During my last CreativeLive workshop, I introduced the idea of the Living Room Strategy. In other words, you don’t need to fill a stadium full of customers with your new idea for it to be a success, for it to impact all the right people. You can start by filling a Living Room.

Even better, filling a Living Room first can give you the experience, feedback, and stories you need to fill that stadium when you’re ready. The Living Room Strategy is the process by which you make the first set of invitations to your idea, host your intimate dinner party of an idea, and then gather feedback on how to make it better next time.

After my CreativeLive workshop, Gloria Roheim McRae put the idea to the test. Gloria had a decade-long global career but left her last position in 2010 to launch her entrepreneurial journey in digital strategy. In 2013, she and her husband merged their businesses to become Wedge15 Inc. and enjoyed great success. They’ve served hundreds of clients individually, self-published a best-selling book, and been featured throughout the media.

But they still faced familiar dilemmas when it came to taking their ideas to scale:

  • When do you create the content?
  • How do you ensure it sells?
  • How much time and energy do you need to put into marketing it?
  • How do you push your next big thing to live up to the reputation of your tried and true big thing?

Inspired by what she saw on CreativeLive and with fellow Living Room Strategy user Marie Poulin, Gloria constructed a plan. She says, “we created a landing page, a wait list and mentioned we would launch in October 2014. Our intention was to sell out the BETA program at half price to help us pilot the full priced program with customer feedback and reviews in 2015.” She acted fast and with focus. Gloria and her husband Ricardo honed in on what values would shape the program (“intimate and interactive”) and decided to do things very differently than they’d done them in the past.

Here’s a sample of what they did:

  • Didn’t wait to be done creating the program but instead let the program grow around the participants. Gloria says, “You made it look easy and fun, and it was.”
  • Focused on personalizing the launch to a small wait list instead of generalizing their marketing to their full list.
  • Invited prospects to a free in-person private dinner event to find out what their pains were, in their own words.
  • Tailored the program to exactly meet their pain points where they were instead of trying to push them 10 steps ahead.
  • Wrote their sales copy using customer-centered pain points instead of expert-centered ideas of what’s going wrong and what they need to fix.
  • Highlighted their own expert’s perspective to formulate a clear statement of value (their hypothesis).
  • Delivered great content that gave their wait list a taste of their offer but didn’t try to sell it.
  • Opened applications at the end of their series of content.
  • Reviewed applicants and only those that we thought would be an ideal fit were sent the registration link to pay and secure their spots.
  • Followed-up individually with successful candidates to keep the momentum going and confirm the sale.
  • Maintained the energy of the initial invitation period through a variety of content marketing and posted until the very last minute.

In the end, Wedge15 had a $7200 Beta launch that sold out their Branding School program. They were able to welcome a small group of the perfect customers into their “living room” for an intimate and interactive experience of great material, tailor made for them.

Maybe this example applies directly to you in your business right now. Or maybe you’re considering a new service offering and wondering how you can get the first 5 clients to try it out before you unleash the offer to all of your prospects. Or maybe you’re thinking about a new collection of home goods for your textile business and wondering how you can ensure the first 10 wholesale orders to recoup the initial expense of production.

The same concepts apply. Start small with the very essence of the idea and the core values that influence how you want to deliver it. Know who you want to invite to purchase, who you want to create for. Devise a way for those people to find out about the offer—personal invitations work great—and then create a way for them to RSVP with a yes.

She says that without this approach, “I would have let the process defeat me and delayed launching again until things ‘felt perfect.’” Instead, Gloria’s customers are enjoying the benefit of her knowledge, experience, and brilliant ideas. And now Gloria is primed for a much bigger launch the next time around—if she wants to make it bigger.

Have you been letting the process defeat you? Have you delayed taking your idea to market because of a fear of everything you have to do to “crush it?” Do you fear that making money fast now could hurt your chances of making good money down the road?

It doesn’t have to be this way. Follow Gloria’s example. Or, join me in Kick Start Labs where you can find the official Living Room Strategy training & workbook, plus plenty of other training for maximizing your business with minimal effort.

Kick Start Labs is where creative entrepreneurs go for training, support, and a good kick in the business pants. Click here to learn more.