For reasons that escape me now, I found myself watching the Graham Norton show on the BBC last Saturday. One of the guests on this particular show was Lady Gaga, who after singing her latest single Judas came to sit on the sofa and (without trying) thoroughly upstaged Gwyneth Paltrow. Anyway, the bit that got me thinking came roughly a minute into the interview when Norton read out some impressive statistics:
Here are the stats: along with the 69 million single and 23 million album sales, the highest earning debut tour ever, over a billion views on YouTube, and being the most downloaded recording artist in history, TIME magazine ranked her as the 5th most powerful person in the world in 2010.
I don’t propose to go into whether or not Lady Gaga deserves this level of success based on a dispassionate assessment of her musical talent. However, one thing which surely everyone can agree on is that she (or her handlers) has hit on – and consistently played on the strength of – a winning strategy. She is shamelessly different.
So Manu, where is your tenuous link to what can be learned from this by healthcare communications agencies, you may be thinking. Well, I would say that Lady Gaga is an excellent case study in support of the core thesis of a book that I read a while back called Bright Marketing by Robert Craven:
Trading on the old tag lines on longer works. If all your competitors are competing on the strength of the usual banners (faster, smarter, better value) then why should people bother to buy from you if you are all just the same? On your gravestone they can write: ‘Here lies another businessman; His business did okay, but not great. No-one will remember him that well, but at least he looked like everyone else.’
Lady Gaga is successful because she is unique – she is doing things which we have not seen before in the music scene. For me, the lesson for healthcare comms agencies (or any business for that matter) is clear – it’s not enough to be excellent at what you do, to be truly successful you need to stand out in the crowd.
If this makes sense to you, then ask yourself: how does your company rate on the Gaga Scale…?