You may love Kanye West, may hate him, or even love hating him. No matter what your position is on the artist, you can’t deny that he is powerful force that helps shape popular culture. Between Kanye West’s random outbursts, interesting music, and controversial fashion endeavors, we can find example after example of ways great marketing is happening from the rapper.
We decided to examine 4 great marketing lessons that we can all learn from Kanye West that every person or brand can benefit from. Below are some Kanye West marketing tactics to help you grow your personal brand or business:
1. Learn from your mistakes.
Remember when Kanye West jumped on the stage and stole the microphone from Taylor Swift? It was one of the rappers most notorious mistakes and he rightfully got a fair amount of flack for what he did. Kanye almost did the exact same thing at the 57th Grammy Awards when he stood up and walked towards stage when Beck won album of the year. However, this time instead of getting on the stage he turned around and sat back down. While the disrespect to Beck had already occurred, at least Kanye realized that going on the stage and not letting Beck finish would be a mistake.
2. Be true to yourself.
If there’s one thing that Kanye West does better than almost anybody, it has to be how he has no issue speaking his mind. If Kanye truly believes in something he is going to let you know it.
While you probably shouldn’t always be as aggressive or unfiltered as West, you’ll notice that most successful brands take on a somewhat similar attitude. Great brands that are true to themselves and call things as they are tend to find the greatest successes. A great example of this is an old Nike ad with Lance Armstrong. While Armstrong did end up doping, the sports brand addressed the issue during the cyclists prime years with ads such as the following:
Brands that sacrifice who they really are in the name of success are ultimately going to lose out. They lose out by purely focusing on the bottom line because when all you care about is the monetary part of your business, you’re not always going to do things the way that you want to do them, but the way you think they’re supposed to be done in traditional “good business” fashion.
3. Concentrate… then diversify.
To be a successful marketer, it’s vital to concentrate on what you’re good at, and then get really really good at it. Once you have succeeded at that one thing you do best you can start to diversify your professional (and personal) intellectual exploration.
This is something that Kanye West has been really good at. He focused on being an amazing music producer before he became a successful rapper (his ultimate dream). He was able to achieve success as a producer, which ultimately allowed him to make a name for himself as a rapper. Once Kanye became a successful rapper he was able to start exploring his other business ventures and creative ideas. Kanye has now highly diversified what he does well beyond the music industry and is now making a name for himself in design, fashion, and other industries.
Marketers should do the same. Focus on the one skill you posses best and earn your success using it. Once you’ve earned your success with that one skill you can take the time to explore other opportunities and building a business empire.
4. Respect your artistry.
Respecting your artistry is a fundamental part of being a successful marketer. This is because if you understand your talents and recognize your weaknesses, you’ll be able to focus your expertise and ask for help when necessary.
Kanye is a great example of this notion in action. When West was just getting his career off the ground he wanted to be a rapper, but he couldn’t get the record executives to take his rapping seriously. Kanye took the opportunity he had to produce music with established artists and forged forward on his quest to become a legendary rapper. He maintained a respect for his artistry and figured out a way to build a team around him that would help him release his highly acclaimed The College Dropout album in 2004.
The key marketing takeaways we can learn from Kanye West are: learn from mistakes, be true to yourself, concentrate and then diversify, and respect your artistry. However, an overarching theme in all of these lessons is the ability to recognize what you’re great at and focus on that. Once you’ve achieved success by focusing on what you’re great at you’ll have the opportunity to experiment and achieve even bigger business accomplishments.