“Word-of-mouth marketing is only effective if people actually talk.”
Contagious: Why Things Catch On
Earlier this month, Iron Maiden released their seventeenth album Senjutsu. It has not only garnered worldwide critical praise, but commercially, it is one of the best performing albums of the year, and their highest-charting ever.
Interestingly, it’s mostly thanks to CD sales.
Who would’ve thought that CDs still matter as much when streaming has taken over the music business? According to Rolling Stone magazine, 90% of Senjutsu’s sales were pure album sales. And of those sales, 70% came from major physical retailers such as Target and Walmart, and also independent record stores.
This tells us that surprisingly, a physical-driven market is still alive and well. And also, we might have overestimated the effectiveness of online marketing.
Marketing courses like to hammer in the idea that online marketing is the real deal — that if you haven’t jumped into the online marketing boat yet, then you’re hopelessly falling behind. After all, it makes sense, right? — people are spending a lot of their time online nowadays.
What they fail to mention is that there’s a caveat here. We must consider the possibility that because people are spending a lot of their time online, they are becoming more desensitized to online marketing efforts. Because everywhere they click, they’re annoyingly inundated with ads.
In fact, based on a research done by the Keller Fay Group, only 7% of word-of-mouth happens online.
Not only that, we also tend to forget that people spend a lot of their time offline as well.
To quote Jonah Berger in his book Contagious, “We tend to overestimate online word-of-mouth because it’s easier to see. Social media sites provide a handy record of all the clips, comments, and other content we share online. So when we look at it, it seems like a lot. But we don’t think as much about all the offline conversations we had over that same time period because we can’t easily see them.”
Iron Maiden understood this well and planned their launching strategy accordingly. They took advantage of the decreasing retail space, because they knew their fans would flood them. They’ve built strong relationships with retailers — offering exclusive deals and collectibles such as special edition CDs for Target, limited edition red vinyl for Walmart, and free posters that came with the album for independent retailers.
Going the alternative marketing route isn’t exactly a new thing for Iron Maiden anyway. They’re used to not having mainstream airplay, and as I’ve mentioned in a previous article, they’ve grown their brand by catering to fans who are nuts about their work — and not merely one-time listeners.
Staying relevant isn’t always about going with the tide.
Sometimes, it could mean setting your anchor and rediscovering right where you are.