Beyond the Music: How Taylor Swift Redefines Marketing Excellence

by Debra Andrews | June 1, 2023

Who comes to mind when you think of the best marketers? Names like Seth Godin, Ann Handley, Marcus Sheridan, and Neil Patel often top the list—not surprisingly, since their expertise and insights have inspired countless professionals in the field.  

But what if I told you that one of the most remarkable marketers of our time isn’t on that roster? In fact, she isn’t even a marketer by trade. 

This prodigy doesn’t talk marketing, isn’t a Chief Marketing Officer, and hasn’t penned a book on the subject. Instead, she spends her time captivating audiences with music sets of 3+ hours, filling the world’s largest venues to capacity, night after night.  

Meet Taylor Swift, the marketing genius you probably don’t think of as a marketer. She’s effortlessly built an iconic brand and stands as a G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) in entertainment. Far from being a conventional marketing hero, you might call her the anti-hero of our field.   

“Ready for It?” – Taylor Swift’s Brand Stats 

  • Her latest Eras Tour, with its 44-song set list, is expected to smash records to become the highest-grossing tour of all time. 
  • Her Eras tour release crashed Ticketmaster, with 14 million people hitting the site as soon as tickets went on sale. 
  • She’s sold over 50 million albums worldwide, won 11 Grammy Awards, and spent 49 weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. 
  • Some 53% of US adults say they’re Swift fans and 16% call themselves avid fans. 
  • Swift, 33, was the only woman to make Forbes’ list of the top 10 highest earning entertainers, raking in an estimated $92 million in 2022. 

The average resale price for Swift’s concert tickets has nearly doubled since her 2009 Fearless tour, despite the fact that she’s now performing in venues with four times the capacity. For someone who didn’t attend college and probably didn’t study marketing or branding formally, how has she achieved incredible growth in fame, adoration, and fan engagement for 15 years?   

“Love Story.” – Mutual Adoration 

Like any successful marketer, Taylor Swift understands her fans—known as Swifties—and cherishes her bond with them. It fills her up, and you can tell.  Fans lucky enough to score tickets to Eras have been posting TikTok videos of themselves crying along with heartbreaking songs and bopping to the beat in colorful outfits. And much to their delight, Taylor has been “liking” those videos.  

You rarely get this level of personal engagement from celebrities, especially when they’re busy in the middle of a successful tour.  But Swift never loses sight of why she’s so popular.  Sure, her songs have to be good, but it goes well beyond that.  

Recently, she spotted a security officer manhandling a Swiftie who was getting too close to the stage.  So she stopped mid-song to tell the security officer to stop. Of course, the moment made headlines.  But I very much doubt that Taylor had publicity on her mind when she chose to speak out and support that fan. Her love for her fans is fierce and legendary, and it’s evident even during high-stakes performances.  

Just like Taylor Swift, great marketers understand their target market and always deliver experiences consistent with their brand promises. 

“Me!” –  The Human Element 

Taylor Swift’s music is highly personal, typically reflecting what’s happening in her life at that time. And that makes her songs much more interesting.  

Is she in love? Is she heartbroken? Does she feel betrayed?  

Her songs become puzzles for her fans to piece together. Through engaged listening and lyrical analysis, they feel like they’re part of her special life moments.  

Simon Sinek has written books on how brands need to deliver beyond the “what” and tap into the “why.”  And that’s exactly what Swift does. The “what” is just a song, but it’s “why” she’s written those lyrics and chosen those melodies that makes each piece extra special.   

Just like Taylor Swift, exceptional marketers understand what transforms commodity products and services into memorable offerings and turns customers into evangelists. 

“Cardigan.” – Consistently Good 

I have a cashmere sweater that’s seen two decades of regular use. I’m always reaching for it, for many different occasions. Why? Because people are creatures of habit. 

While an element of surprise is okay every now and again, we crave consistency. And Taylor Swift gets that. 

Have you known any other artist who consistently delivers music at the pace and quality of Swift’s work?  At the ripe old age of 33, she’s already released 10 original studio albums, two re-recorded studio albums, five extended plays, four live albums, and 21 other minor works. Whether or not you like her songs, you have to admit that’s an extraordinary feat. She’s a high-quality production machine. 

For 15 years, Swifties have never had the chance to forget their beloved performer. And if she finds herself with a short musical gap? That’s the perfect time to reach out to her large social media following, numbering 260 million on Instagram alone.  

Like Taylor Swift, highly effective marketers get that while marketing feels like a complex discipline, its core premise is consistent, on-brand communication and engagement.  

Many marketers, including me, strive tirelessly to remain at the forefront of their field. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift seems to transcend conventional marketing effortlessly. She possesses an innate understanding of her target audience, adeptly humanizes her product through captivating storytelling, and consistently delivers unparalleled quality year after year. It’s almost awe-inspiring, defying the boundaries of fairness.  

Yet, there’s no “Bad Blood” between professional marketers and Taylor Swift. Whether by design or serendipity, she’s a testament to the profound impact of our craft.

When it comes to consistent, on-brand communication and engagement, Marketri has the expertise to do it right. Schedule an introductory call with me to learn how we can drive marketing impact to help you meet your business goals.