Today’s post comes from Lori Lewis and a version of an article she wrote for All Access’ Merge. It closely connects to a post that appeared here earlier this month, “The Power of One.” How we view audience and brand growth in 2012 is different from the old school ways in which we were taught. Here, Lori showcases someone we all know who has taken a different approach to fan outreach – the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl.
As you may know, the tale of rock’s good guy got taller last week when Dave Grohl went out of his way to fill a fan’s empty beer cup – in the middle of a set.
This was just the latest cool move in a career of awesomeness that is Dave Grohl, a guy who understands that he can make an impact – one fan at a time.
Part of the reason fans love Grohl so much goes beyond just enjoying his music. It’s the sense of surprise and discovery that Grohl offers his fans.
Whether it’s during a Foo Fighters show, his care for other rockers, or his attitude towards fans – Grohl has built a selfless brand – one that Foo Fighters partisans have pride connecting to. They don’t feel “in the way” for being a fan.
Radio often thinks about audience growth in terms of cume – winning over thousands of fans at a time. This idea of impersonally touching fans in bulk via contesting or mass marketing, like TV and billboards, has traditionally worked. But in today’s connected world, it is possible to pull off great deeds that impact very few people on the surface, but grow in size to reach thousands – or millions. The real win is in creating unexpected moments for fans (or smaller groups).
The core philosophical tenets of brand building and fan strengthening have changed. It’s more about carrying the belief that every person counts and giving fans – one at a time – those “Holy crap” moments.
Dave Grohl gets it – and here’s why:
Grohl is genuine. His approach to connecting with fans positively is felt and displayed – even when you’re not looking. While this story is a few years old, this is how Grohl sees his fans. When he recognized a fan with cerebral palsy from a prior Foo Fighters show in the crowd at a Queens of the Stone Age show, he invited her to attend a video shoot the next day. He didn’t try to hide from her because he “already met her.”
Grohl is thankful. Gratitude (like his letter to fans after the Foo Fighters won five Grammy awards earlier this year) deepens the connection, while reinforcing and validating why we love the brand in the first place.
Grohl still relates to his fans. In spite of his superstar success, he never forgets what it’s like to be a fan – even when they break the rules to try and get closer to him at a show. (Warning: It is VERY NSFW!)
Grohl thinks “one fan at a time.” He doesn’t worry about the fans who will whine about how he didn’t “fill up their beer cup.” It’s not about the number of fans he touches – it’s his spontaneous coolness that builds on his brand as the nicest guy in rock.
Grohl keeps the fans involved. One of the most recent examples was when he and The Foo Fighters put together a “fan’s garage tour” that took them to eight different fans’ garages to perform songs from “Wasting Light,” which was recorded in Grohl’s garage.
Grohl’s approach can translate to radio IF the station is a “social brand” – one that is willing to offer acknowledgement, unique experiences, and great moments of unexpectedness.
It’s tough to do.
The key is not letting traditional thinking or the frenetic energy of each day distract you from creating those moments where you could be “filling up the beer cup” – one fan at a time.