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taylor-swift-singing.jpg Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

What Can Taylor Swift Teach Advisors About Marketing? Quite a Lot, Actually.

If you’re an advisor looking to grow your business, you can take a page from the Swift playbook.

Taylor Swift is one of the best-selling, most award-winning recording artists in history, with 95 songs in the top 100—and that stat is only going up. She also rather famously has a habit of dealing with the pain of breakups by writing songs that sell many millions of copies. Her die-hard fans go well beyond teenage girls (which makes sense since she’s almost 32). With over 186 million followers on Instagram, she’s doing something right.

When the Second Time’s Better Than the First

The rights to Taylor’s first several albums were swooped up by another producer. Instead of giving in and losing the ability to sing the songs she’d personally created or collaborated on, she decided to re-record each one. Would fans buy second versions of the same song they’d already downloaded?

They sure would. In fact, Taylor’s re-release of a 10-minute version of her song “All Too Well” is the longest song to ever hit number one—supplanting the previous record holder, Don Maclean’s “American Pie.”

Whether you’re a Swiftie or not, it’s hard to deny that Taylor has a strong connection with her fans—and people from all walks of life can learn from her example. If you’re an advisor looking to grow your business, you can take a page from the Swift playbook.

What did she do right? Everything. What can we learn?

  1. Connect. Taylor uses her famed Instagram account to stay connected to fans, posting about things she cares about, which, they, in turn, care about, too. Despite previously being too much in the public eye, she is now carefully striking a balance between keeping her fans in the loop and leaving them wanting more. She keeps up a regular cadence of communication on social media, and, though she doesn’t have to worry about compliance guidelines, she does need to ensure she is keeping content fresh and relevant. One thing that helps: being honest.
  2. Be Genuine. We’ve all gone through heartbreaks, and Taylor is singing for all of us when she bares her soul! Her fans connect with her because of her honesty and the fact that her emotions are out there. How does that translate into client relationships? Consider that in this new world of enforced distance, there are also areas of increased “closeness.” Topics that might have once been off the table are now a great way to stay connected with tight-knit clients; or, reach out to forge closer connections with newer clients. Talking about things you really care about resonates. You can’t fake it, but when you do it well, you reinforce tight ties.
  3. Get Personal. One of the reasons “All Too Well” resonates so deeply with fans is because it’s clearly so personal to Taylor (she wrote the song about one of her first big relationships, and it’s the only song that still makes her cry when singing on stage). Crying during client meetings is not a great marketing strategy, but being real versus sales-driven always resonates.
  4. Tell a story. And think about that story from a client’s point of view. Instead of presenting a plan filled with numbers, give a perspective on life goals with real-world examples. Tell some of your own story. What got you into the business? What messages about money stick with you to this day? What does financial wellness really mean to you? All of this makes you more human—someone people want to connect to. Taylor is certainly not personally acquainted with all those millions of followers, but they follow her story.
  5. Tell that story effectively. Why was there so much hype and buzz around the release of a 10-minute version of a song that had been out there for a while already? Because Taylor used all the multi-media channels at her disposal. She teased the song and video ahead of time on her social media accounts. She created a tear-inducing video to illustrate how she felt during one of the most painful times of her life, so we could live it with her and feel empathy. She used her influence and connections to star on Saturday Night Live several days after releasing the video, playing the song with the video in the background. She had Twitter buzzing with theories of why this breakup was so upsetting. In short, she put herself out there. Granted, creating an advisor-led video depicting heartbreak is a bit of a stretch, but keep in mind—video enables connection. Telling your story on video and teasing that story on social media is a great marketing strategy that is well within the bounds of an effective marketing plan.
  6. About that plan… The success of this re-release of old music is not a happy accident. Taylor’s career has been carefully thought out, and though the plan may have taken some twists and turns, she always had the goal in sight. A single element doesn’t typically work; standalone marketing efforts often fall flat. Advisors who commit to a plan can track results, while pivoting as circumstances arise.

There’s surely a lot more that we can learn from the venerable Ms. Swift—to stand up for yourself, to treat people well (or you’ll find yourself the villain of a love song)—but the marketing prowess she’s shown has instant applicable strategies that most advisors are not taking advantage of, but can, with a bit of thought and planning.

Meghan McCartan is Managing Director, Head of Marketing at Hightower Advisors, Sources for this article included her four teenage daughters.

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