What Josh Groban can teach us about marketing

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Josh Groban, the master marketer

If you also follow me on Twitter or Facebook — odds are you know that I have an 18 year old daughter who loves Josh Groban and his music.

This past summer was all about Josh for the McLellans.  We saw his concert in 3 different states, culminating in front row seats, backstage passes (see the picture of my daughter and Josh) and him wearing a t-shirt that she gave him on stage during the encore.

I tell you all of this because as we’ve done our family Josh Groban deep dive, I couldn’t help but notice something:

Josh Groban is a brilliant marketer.

You may not like his music (seriously, what’s not to like?) but you can take emulate his marketing prowess, no matter what you sell.

He has build a solid marketing foundation: Josh has all the usual things you’d expect a singing sensation to have these days.  A robust website, an active fan club, lots of Josh Groban personalized items (Yes, we do have a pair of Josh Groban flip flops at our house), and plenty of ticket giveaways on radio stations etc.

Lesson for us: While the marketing foundation might not be sexy — it’s necessary.  You can’t start off in the middle.  Build a rock solid foundation and then grow from there.

He gives his best customers exclusive content/access: He gives fan club members exclusive access to front row seats.  He also offers $25 tickets for all students at every show, which is not advertising anywhere but on his fan page.

For every concert, he selects one local fan club member to be his “road reporter.”  That person gets back stage passes, a press pass (to sit with the media during the concert and have special photo taking opportunities) and gets to write a review of the concert — which is posted on Josh’s website.  As you can imagine…every road reporter includes the photo of themselves with Josh.  Do you think that drives some traffic to the page?

Lessons for us: Rewarding your best customers transforms them into fans.  Fans who brag and spread the word.   That’s marketing you can’t buy, but you sure can influence and encourage.

He uses social media to be a real human being, not a robot: His tweets are his own and often, not about his music or singing.  (One that amused me was when he was trying to imitate the sound of a train)   He hosts webinar/chats with his fan club members and he really does just hang out and talk with them.

He does some crazy stuff on YouTube like this cooking show video.  He also did a couple where he interviews himself.  He’s goofy.  Which makes him very real and very likable.


Lessons for us: I don’t care if you’re a huge brand like Nike or a local shopkeeper — people want you to be real.  They want to like you.  But they can’t do that if you hide behind corporate speak or “official statements.”

He shows his heart: Josh launched a foundation years ago, but really has sharpened the focus of it to raise money for arts organizations for kids.  It might be a youth symphony, buying instruments for a disadvantaged elementary school or a theatre camp.  At every concert, he talks about his Find Your Light Foundation, offers his fans a chance to text in a donation and introduces a group of kids from that local city who are benefiting from those donations.  It’s all very nicely handled.

Lessons for us: Your customers want to know that you stand for something.  And if you truly show them your heart, they’ll join you in the fight.  Look at what Avon has done for breast cancer.  That’s not the company doing it — it’s their loyal customers.  Who are even more loyal because they share a passion now.

Bottom line — if a 30+ year old singer can launch a marketing tsunami mostly through gile and technology — so can you.  What Josh reminds us is — if it’s real, people gravitate towards it.

Thanks for the lessons Josh…and for the summer that will live in Mclellan infamy!


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11 comments on “What Josh Groban can teach us about marketing

  1. Good observations, and I totally agree, but you missed something I thought was a brilliant marketing move. He gave away a down load of a song from his Illuminations album before it was released. And he kept his fans in the loop via twitter throughout the making of the album with both tweets and videos. And picked 5 songs from the album and allowed visitors to the website to listen to the all for free on his website. He really does love and appreciate his fans, and as you said, he definitely finds innovative ways to show it. But I think the best part is that it is not just driven by a desire to market, he is actually looking for ways to connect with and give back to his fans.

    1. Sandy,

      I didn’t know about the free sharing of his music (although I am sure my daughter did). He gets it. And he gets it for the right reasons. It’s not about making money, it is about making connections.

      Yes — those connections eventually make him money but he’s doing the right things for the right reasons.

      Smart guy!


  2. Loretta says:

    I’m not sure what to make of this. Are you complaining about the money you put out to attend 3 concerts? Josh puts his heart out there simply because that is who he is. Yes he is real. I don’t think he could be anything else and I admire Mr and Mrs Groban for the lessons they have instilled in their children. I attended my first Josh Groban concert in Orlando. I have made so many friends because of Josh Groban… great friends! When Josh sang that first note I got chills, I ran back to get a closer look at the man. When I looked up I saw the face of a familiar friend. That is how Josh makes you feel. He welcomed us with an embrace that was felt with the heart rather than the body. He gave his all and left us smiling yet sad it was over. I will treasure the experience of that one night the rest of my life. I didn’t see a lot of marketing in this area. I subscribe to the Orlando Sentinel but never saw an add until the day before the concert. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place? I listen to the radio a lot but did not hear them giving away tickets until a week before the show. I never heard the first Josh Groban song played on the radio. When I mention Josh Groban, most don’t know who he is. I discovered Josh Groban after he did a funny duet with Ellen Degenerous… and I watch very little TV so it’s really a lucky thing I was watching that day. I don’t see the marketing master you claim Josh Groban to be. I see a man who has a heart that is bigger than life and just keeps giving and giving. I’d like to say thank you Josh Groban for just being you!

    1. Yikes Loretta — I think you’d better re-read what I wrote.

      I am complimenting Josh on how brilliantly he has connected with his fans by being accessible, real, funny and not always talking about himself and his music.

      Then, I go on to applaud him and his foundation.

      So no….I am not complaining about what I paid for the tickets. As you might know, Josh is very generous in allowing his fans who are students a shot a very inexpensive student rate seats. I’m not even complaining for the expensive front row seats I bought.

      He brought a lot of joy and laughter into my family’s summer. And to call someone a marketing master is a compliment, not a put down.

      My point is that people who do marketing for a living could learn from Josh’s example.


  3. Oh my, I love Josh Groban, and it’s more than because of his music. I like his music, but I am enamored more with his personality. He’s just such a happy, light person.

    Anyway, I do salute celebrities to take time to tweet. Besides harnessing the power of social media for promotions, they’re making themselves more reachable and endearing. It reduces the wrong notion they’re high and mighty.

  4. I see your daughter’s really dragged you in to the world of this Groban guy.

    I would say that the fact I’ve never heard of him does say something about his ability to market himself internationally 😉

    1. Andy,

      I’m surprised you’re not at least familiar with his name and his big hit — You Raise Me Up. He spent 6 weeks or so doing concerts all over Europe, including London, I think. Maybe we need to get you out more…. ;-}


  5. David Reich says:

    When my daughter was in her late teens, she spent a good part of a summer following The Grateful Dead up and down the east coast and as far west as the Mississippi. Now there’s a band that had an unusual marketing concept… giving their music away by encouraging fans to tape their shows and trade the tapes.

    1. David,

      Have you read David Meerman’s Scott’s book about how the Dead were great marketing gurus? If not — might be a good holiday gift for your daughter! It’s a fun read.


  6. I love Josh Groban and his music! Kudos on his foundation. At least he knows how to effectively market this.

  7. Very significant article for us ,I think the representation of this article is actually superb one.This is my first time to visit your site.

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