Steely Dan as business marketing model?

I recently had the pleasure of taking in a Steely Dan concert at New York’s Beacon Theater. They are on tour performing alternating sets of their final three classic albums.  I opted to see “The Royal Scam,” one of their finest and most muscular records from 1976.

I was fortunate to have an excellent seat, where I could see the band, and enjoy their music.  When the band first took the stage, I was quite surprised to see the legendary guitarist Larry Carlton taking up residency on stage right. And not just for the first song…he played the entire set.

There was no mention that Carlton would be performing with the band.  But it made absolute sense, since he figured such a prominent role on “The Royal Scam,” playing memorable guitar solos throughout, (including on this night, a note-for-note reincarnation of the classic “Kid Charlemagne” solo,) all with the distinctive Carlton hollow-body sound.

This is an excellent lesson for business and consumer marketers, and how to go about your communications strategies.  A key element to connecting with an audience is relevance;  putting a message that has context in front of someone that likely wants to hear that message, while using a medium that appeals to his or her sensibilities.  But the truly memorable connections are made when you can add an element of the unexpected, some surprise or aha! moment that catches the consumer off guard.

When you deliver marketing messages that are both relevant and unexpected, it usually resonates  – right on the bottom line.

One thought on “Steely Dan as business marketing model?

  1. Joe Sacco August 18, 2009 / 4:11 pm

    I appreciate the connection to music as marketing… because it is! We need to take lessons from all businesses… even if they seem like “hobbies” to us. And music can be so relevant as an analogy, because it evokes so much passion in its followers. Relevancy is about “passion” and “connection” if you seek to create true advocacy. Whether it’s Donald Fagan or Ronald McDonald. More marketers are signing that tune… good for them. And us.


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