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March 05, 2008

What a Bon Jovi Concert Can Teach You About Internet Marketing

By Li Evans

Jonbonjoviphillyconcert1 This past weekend, I treated myself as well as my sister and my friend to a rather sweet indulgence.  For anyone who grew up loving "hair bands", Bon Jovi was the ultimate hair band.  Now, some 20 years later, the band doesn't quite have that 80's hair (most of you probably are saying Thank God!), but they still put on a great show.  As I explain it, Jon Bon Jovi is the only man above 40 legally allowed to wear leather pants in public.

For some reason, I always find myself looking at things from a marketing perspective where ever I go.  I could be in the grocery store, at Cold Stone (shhh!), or even just driving and see a bill board and I get inspired.  Sunday night was no different.  I came home and jotted a few notes down that have turned into this post.

What a Bon Jovi Concert Can Teach You About Online Marketing:

  • Get Your Message Heard and Understood
    Is your message coming through, can your audience really hear what you are saying? 

    While we had awesome seats, near the stage, we found it really tough to understand anything that Chris Daughtry (the opening act) was singing, since he didn't use the same sound system as Bon Jovi.  The three of us knew maybe 2 of his songs from hearing them occasionally on the radio, but felt "lost" because we really couldn't understand the words to the songs he was singing, since all of his speakers were facing the front, and we were on the side.

    Bon Jovi was a little better, but both acts would have benefited from having another speaker or two facing the crowd that was "behind" the open stage.  Then everyone could have fully enjoyed the songs they sang.

    So, stop and think, is your audience understanding your message?  Is something hindering them from truly understanding what you are trying to relate.  If you have a high bounce rate on your website, you might need to "re-tune" that message so your visitors understand what you are trying to convey.
  • Can Everyone See the Show?
    While we had these truly awesome seats (like as almost as close as you could get to Matt Cutts at SMX West), and it was an open stage that Jon Bon Jovi did move around, there were parts that blocked our view.  The stage lifted up from the back, and they had these TV screens that dangled from chains and moved along tracks.  Those blocked our view of the show and really frustrated not only us, but the fans around us too.  At the time, the screens weren't showing what was going on stage, they were showing some cartoon like video, which frustrated us all a little more.

    What I take away from that is, can all your visitors see your website?  Have you tested it in Firefox, IE, Opera and any other browser out there?  If someone is running with images off, can they understand what your images are trying to convey?  Can someone who is blind and uses a reader, understand what your site is all about?
  • Distractions From the Real Message
    I just mentioned the "floating" TV screens that they had at the concert.  At times they would show videos or cartoon type videos during the songs.  Between my sister and my best friend, we looked at each other and thought "what does this have to do with the song".  Finding it rather distracting, rather than adding value to the song or show.

    Are there parts of your site or even your ad campaign that distract from your real message? Do you have annoying images that spin, or music that plays "on load"?  Just because you like it, doesn't mean that your audience will.  Run your site through user testing and see how the users react to it, are they really "getting" your message, or is all the "Fluff" distracting from it?
  • Get the Crowd Involved
    Jonbonjoviphillyconcert2If there's one thing that rock bands to well, it's getting the crowd involved.  Bon Jovi does this extremely well because they have a catalog of hits that spans over 25 years.  From "You Give Love a Bad Name" to "Who Says You Can't Go Home", the crowd sings the lyrics on queue, does the hand gestures, claps and screams.  There's no better way for a band to know they are relating to the crowd than when a stadium of 18,000 people sing back their lyrics to them.

    So how do you get your audience involved?  How do you get the feedback you need to know if the services you provide are meeting expectations? There are a lot of different avenues companies can take to get their audiences involved.  From contests to forums, email forms to asking for comments on blog, the key is to find what works best for your audience.  Are they passionate and fanatical about your products?  Do they rave about the service they receive?  Start highlighting your client's responses, thank them for the feedback and heck, even give them a coupon for being so honest.  That will get them involved!
  • Using the Familiar to Introduce the New
    When bands go out on tour, it's usually to promote a new album that they have released. There's a lot of new songs on that album that the audience might not have heard before, so they might not feel as "comfortable" with the new line up of songs.  Bands that have been around a while have a great advantage, they can use their older hits to help lead into the new music and warm the crowd up to the newer stuff.  Bon Jovi's "Lost Highway" tour has a few songs in their lineup, that unless you've listened to the album you might not have heard, but they meld it perfectly with "Blaze of Glory", "Runaway" and "Have a Nice Day".

    Brands that have been around have that kind of leverage too.  New products and services are always an expensive venture, even online.  But being able to leverage the familiar successes with the new items can help your audience warm up to the products or services.  You can also leverage that familiar audience, the established one, to attract a new one as well.  Don't throw away the "old" just because of something new, leverage it to your advantage.
  • Change is Good!
    "I'll Be There  For You" (don't know why I previously had "I Would Die for You" - doh! Thanks Sabina & Jon's Girl!) is probably one of my most favorite songs that Jon Bon Jovi sings.  It's probably a favorite of many women, as well.  I can remember screaming women falling at the stage when Jon still sported that long mane of hair.  At Sunday night's concert the scene was a little different.  Of course Jon now has shorter hair, he's a little older and his teeth are a little whiter.  That I already knew "changed".  What I wasn't expecting was a change in the lead singer of "I'll Be There For You".  This time out Bon Jovi guitarist, Richie Sambora, sang the lead on this song, and you know what - it was great!  It also gave Jon Bon Jovi, time to change into this really funky red shirt! (hey at least I didn't drool!)

    Sometimes we're afraid to change what works on our websites or in online marketing plans and strategies.  Rock bands are forever re-inventing themselves.  Putting new twists on old songs to see if they "work", they experiment constantly.  As marketers, especially online marketers, things hardly ever stay stagnant, so neither should our online marketing strategies - remember change is good!  Take a crack at putting a new twist on an ad creative, change the color on a display ad or even add some new content to a page, you never know until you try!
  • With Age Comes Experience
    The opening act for Bon Jovi was Chris Daughtry, who came from American Idol fame. What was interesting was when Chris came out and did a song with Bon Jovi.  There was a definite difference between the singers, but it went a lot further than tone, and style.  With experience, singers can learn to grade their voices - Jon Bon Jovi does this beautifully.  Chris Daughtry still needs a few years to be able to do this properly.  As a result, it was like Chris was screaming into the microphone, rather than just tempering his voice, and knowing that he didn't need to be "so loud", we really could hear him!

    Online marketing is still a very young business.  We are all still learning, but we also learn from mistakes we've made in the past.  The other places we learn are from our past experiences in older media forms.  Some of us have come from offline Public Relations, Graphic Arts companies, Madison Avenues advertising firms - each and every one of these fields (and more) have something to contribute to the learning process of online marketing. The wise online marketers knows to tap into those fountains of knowledge to help the new strategies succeed.

Bon_jovi_have_a_nice_day Sometimes I think it's fun to take something that is far removed from the online world and see how I can learn and relate it back to online marketing.  It certainly gets my brain thinking "outside the box"!  So now I ask you, is there something that you indulge in that can teach you even one thing about the job your do? :)


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I've always felt that jon Bon Jovi is the ultimate marketing genius. I am a huge fan of his, but I think anyone who looks at the bands history can appreciate Jon's marketing skills.

Love the comparisons - does that give me away as a Bon Jovi fan? :-)
On a serious side tho - great points that everyone needs to keep in mind when marketing! Regardless if it's online or offline.
As for learning a thing or two from the things I indulge in? Hmm...
Number One would have to be reading - never stop learning.
Number Two - Photography - look at things from all angles, you never know what you'll discover.


Just a quick note that the song Richie Sambora sang lead on while Jon Bon Jovi changed clothes was "I'll Be There For You." Bon Jovi haven't performed "I'd Die For You" in quite a while.

Completely agree on the differences in sound between Daughtry's equipment and Bon Jovi's. Also agree on the screens sometimes getting in the way. All depends on where your seats are; they can be annoying, but I still thought they were pretty cool!

richie didn't sing "i'd die for you". he sang "i'll be there for you". otherwise, good article.

Bon Jovi es una banda que sigue en pie pese a los casi 25 años de ruta, la verdad que no estoy de acuerdo con el comentario pero no lo juzgo, es la apreciación de alguien y no todos podemos opinar igual...lastima que en Argentina no tenemos la suerte de verlos tan seguido (los esperamos hace mas de 12 años) como para comentar ese tipo de cosas, suerte!


Woohoo! I love Bon Jovi! Err. I guess I should say Jon Bon Jovi :) Great analogies, Liana. It's fun to find useful application in our indulgences, as you call them. For me, one of them would actually have to be exercising (yes, I know you all hate me right now but it's true and it wasn't always this way!) Anyway, the lesson is - work hard and you see results. It's not always easy but don't give up! :)

For the record, I like most of Jon's older stuff better. You know, back when he had the long hair and duller teeth? I was really disappointed when I saw him in concert because he changed the way he sang all the old songs, and I just wanted to hear them the way I grew up listening to them! Still awesome, though. Good post. :)

Liana, we think this is a great post, and couldn't agree more. In fact we used your analogies and applied them to site search on our blog at http://blog.sli-systems.com/2008/03/what_a_bon_jovi_concert_can_teach_you_about_site_search.html

I like the comparison of Bon Jovi and marketing.

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