Marketing Without Marketing

By: Ben Okun


That’s the message that Beyonce sent out to her fans on December 13th. She posted that on Instagram, accompanied by a short music video telling all her followers that her new visual album, “Beyonce,” was available on iTunes. The immediate aftermath of Beyonce’s Instagram post was remarkable. Out of Beyonce’s 8.3 million Instagram followers, 569,090 liked her post (and counting). On Twitter, Beyonce’s new album generated approximately 1.2 million tweets during the initial 12 hours. On the first day alone, her album sold 365,000 copies in the United States. Apple noted that “Beyonce” was the fasted selling album ever, reaching 828,773 copies sold after the first three days and over 1 million after the first week!

The surprise release of Beyonce’s album on iTunes was a smashing success and shows no signs of slowing down. Music traditionalists would say that Beyonce took a big leap of faith by releasing her album with no marketing or publicity campaign. However, social media is so popular nowadays that Beyonce may not have really taken a risk at all. With her surprise release, Beyonce flipped the music industry upside down and revealed a new marketing strategy that could be the beginning of a new trend: the value of marketing without marketing.

Normally when artists are promoting albums, they appear on talk shows, leak singles online or on radio stations and build up anticipation on social media. Beyonce and her team did not allow any songs to leak, did not mention anything on social media prior to the “Surprise!” post and ultimately did a tremendous job of keeping everything under wraps. Her fan base was caught off guard, but this was a good thing! By informing her fans via social media, the news of the album was amplified and allowed Beyonce to have a direction connection with her audience. Instead of being bombarded with commercials, ads and other traditional marketing strategies, Beyonce was able to speak directly to her fans. You didn’t have to be in front of a TV, listening to the radio, or hunched over in front of your computer to learn of the release. Since social media is available on mobile devices, a fan literally could have been anywhere and received the awesome news by their favorite artist.


However, I don’t think any artist could have pulled this off the way Beyonce did. You have to have a large enough following to know that a mass audience is seeing your message. 8.3 million is definitely a mass audience and anyone can tell you that Beyonce fans are extremely dedicated and loyal. To go along with the 14 songs that are largely electronic R&B, there are 17 additional music videos on the album. In an age where consumption is content driven, Beyonce gave her fans more than enough material to consume. The videos have been described as seductive and racy, something that we’re all too familiar with from Beyonce, but something that we can’t get enough of! Simply put, Beyonce gave her fans everything they could’ve asked for on this video album. Best of all, Beyonce released it just in time for Christmas!

With so many potential means of exposure through digital and social media, artists marketing campaigns are sometimes overblown and overwhelming. By the time the album is finally released, everyone knows everything about the album, which can severely limit the excitement. Beyonce overwhelmed her audience in a completely different way, with no promotion or official announcement. An Instagram video was all that was necessary to create a fan frenzy and media firestorm. The rest was history. Could this be the dawn of a new age of marketing? Only time will tell. What we can conclude is that if done correctly, marketing without marketing can be extraordinarily successful.  

As always, I welcome any and all comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

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