Marketing Lessons learned from “The Voice”

Voice ChairOver the years, there’s one TV show that I make a point of watching and it’s “The Voice.”  It has nothing to do with me fashioning myself as a singer and secretly wishing I was up there performing. In fact, I’m not a good singer at all. When our family goes to our annual vacation spot and the karaoke machine comes out, and I do my couple of songs, people just wince at how bad I am. Not to put too fine a point on it but when I was a kid, I was asked to leave (read: kicked out) of the kid’s church choir. Yeah, I’m that bad.

Anyway, as I was watching the show last week, I started wondering why I had come to like the show as I have. Was it the way that show was setup – from blind audition to knock-out rounds, or was it that the judges could steal a singer that was dropped by another coach, or was it the celebrity coaches, or the singers themselves, or something else.  And in doing so, out of the blue it occurred to me that there’s a few things that as marketers we could all learn and begin to apply to our individual marketing activities.

  1. The coaches’ (or prospective customers’) chairs turn around for a number of reasons, but the main one being that they’re listening for something that’s new, different and genuinely moves them. They’re looking to be fascinated with what they hear in order to push their button (buy the product). Alternatively, the singers (the product) don’t get to reveal themselves (the packaging) and only have their voice and song (message) to get the coaches to say to themselves “I like what I’m hearing.”
  2. The contestants/singers (the product), the one’s that get chosen to move ahead from the blind auditions forward, perform (do things) and have that “it” factor from the unchosen . They don’t sing similarly to the other contestants (the competitors). No siree… they have their own exclusive sound…voice …style…message. It’s distinctive…captivating… and sometimes magical.
  3. The best singers have a confidence that grabs the audience by the lapels and says, “listen to me” (my message). They show their range (their product line) by singing different types of genre’s to broaden their audience appeal. They want to be chosen (get the order) and they make sure you know that they want it. There’s a distinctive attitude with how they deliver the song that draws you to them like bees to honey. Their attitude.. their creativity… well, you’re almost envious of it.
  4. As well, these very talented individuals present their song (the message) with a high level of energy. They’re not timid nor do go through the motions. No, instead they use the stage (the channel/medium) to go for it!  They want the judges and the voting public to care about them.  They sing (present) from their hearts and guts so you can feeeeel them!
  5. And lastly, these singers have an amazing voice (the product attribute). It’s real…it’s who they are at their core…it resonates with their audience (their customers). There’s no pretense about what kind of singer they are or want to become.

So what lessons are to be learned in order to connect with your audience:

  1. When you make the pitch for people to hear your voice, it has to be impressive. It needs to make people stand up and take notice that you’re not like all the competitors. This can take place in creating marketing that is first rate….not as an after-thought. Marketing programs that are interconnected and build off one another. Messaging that makes people say “I’ve not heard that before,” or “Now that’s what I want to hear!” because it’s important to them.
  2. Connect in ways that shows your company understands what the customers want to hear. Make them want to listen to more of message in ways or through channels they haven’t in the past. How are you getting them to tell others about you? Is your social media presence what it should be to help them do that? Is your content (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) interesting, informative, or creatively communicated so that people will want to share within their own network’s network, i.e. your fan’s friends?
  3. Know that getting someone to initially like your “voice” is just the beginning. Reward these new fans by providing them with new offerings (products, services, information) that they don’t see or hear from your competitors. It takes more time, effort and financial resources to find a new fan than it does to keep them. So, to turn that new relationship into a lasting one, you must continuously remind them why they turned their chair and cast their vote for your brand in the first place.

While I can’t tell you who will win this season’s competition, I can tell you that the singers who have strategically given thought to the songs that they should sing and how they should perform those songs, will likely be the last ones standing. They understand that in order for people to buy into who they are and what they can become, they need to connect with the coaches and audiences in ways more powerful and moving than those they’re competing against. WOWing them is a must.

Because at the end of the day, what you tell prospective customers has to fascinate and captivate them – in a way that keeps them engaged and wanting to know more about you, which will lead to increased sales and revenue.  As advertising legend, Bill Bernbach, said: “The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you, and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting, and you won’t be interesting until you say and do things imaginatively, originally, freshly.”  (NOTE: Now read it again but this time insert the name of your company every time you come to the words “you.”)

Those who always wish to sing will find a song.


Rolf Gutknecht is vice president, director of account services for LA ads. To discuss your thoughts with Rolf on this blog or any marketing matters, email via this link, or visit  You can also connect with Rolf on LinkedIn.

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