What The Beatles Can Teach You About Marketing

The Beatles are the greatest rock band of all time. You can debate that, but you’d be wrong.

Check their stats:
1.6 billion singles sold in U.S.
600 million albums sold worldwide
1,278 weeks Beatles music was on Billboard charts
19 #1 albums in U.S…

I could go on, but I’d sound like an actuary, which I do 26.76421% of the time.

Now, you could make the case popularity does not equate to greatness, and you would have a valid point, but in this case, unfortunately, you’d be wrong again. Sorry.

The Beatles are the greatest of all time, and they achieved their success before the age of 30. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel like a loser.

Here are some thoughts about what attributed to their phenomenal success.

1. They were passionate. Loving what you do is critical to making it in any field. People can tell when you’re faking it, and as a wise one once said, “All you need is love, love is all you need.” True, that.

2. They immersed themselves in the subject. The Beatles, like Bob Dylan, were artistic sponges. They were open to many musical styles, analyzed them, digested and allowed their insatiable grazing to influence their creative process. No great work happens in a vacuum.

3. They worked their asses off. First and foremost, The Beatles were a great band because they were great musicians. As Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his bestseller Outliers, the magic number for greatness appears to be 10,000 hours. If The Beatles had never gigged incessantly in Hamburg and Liverpool, they never would have become The Beatles.

4. They got help. What you know is important, but knowing what you don’t know may be more important. At some point, you should check your ego and seek assistance from others. A different viewpoint from an expert is essential. When the band signed with manager Brian Epstein, he had worked his ass off making NEMS music stores a success in Northern England. He had a feel for the industry, and when he discovered The Beatles, Epstein sensed there was something there. He watched the band play live, talked with them and signed them. They were impressed with his professionalism and knowledge he was impressed with their talent, humor, and charm. A respectful relationship began, and the band was open to his suggestions.

5. They built a brand. Over time, Epstein would persuade the boys to wear suits instead of jeans and leather jackets, and not smoke, eat, or drink booze while they performed. Their suits matched, the haircuts were similar, and the band even bowed after performing. It was quite a transformation from the rowdy teddy boys style of their early days. They had a specific font for their name, it became their logo. Their logo appeared on Ringo’s bass drum head. Branding, babe. Branding.

6. They changed to get better. The band’s original drummer was Pete Best. When legendary producer George Martin heard the band, he thought Best was the weak link. He suggested a session player, but the band preferred a drummer they knew and admired––Ringo Starr. They made a switch to improve.

7. They persevered. Being a visionary is never easy. Epstein had a difficult time securing The Beatles a recording contract. The band was rejected time and time again; industry leaders didn’t hear greatness, they heard a flop in the making. However, Epstein persisted.

8. They formed partnerships. George Martin was responsible for making the band sound great on vinyl, and he was critical to their success. He patiently worked with Lennon and McCartney and experimented to find the sound they were after, always striving for something new. In 1966, Geoff Emerick joined the team as recording engineer, and The Beatles changed the sound of rock ‘n roll forever.

9. They were never satisfied. The Beatles evolved because they wanted to. While many bands find a sound and stick to it, this one didn’t. Their songs were empathetic to being human and the fragilities of emotion. Musically they took chances and challenged themselves, and their fans went along for the ride. The band’s album releases were always an event because they were real artists, always exploring and evolving.

10. They enjoyed the ride. When The Beatles finally disbanded, their fans felt like they’d lived through a testy divorce. They were that invested in the relationship. But while it lasted, the band were friends who looked out for each another and enjoyed the success and fame mortals rarely achieve. The Beatles were young men who matured and learned hard life lessons in the harsh glare of the limelight, but they left behind the soundtrack for millions of lives worldwide, and a legacy of artistic achievement for the ages.

The lesson here–– when art meets marketing, the world changes.