I just finished studying the fabulous Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead, by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan (Wiley, 2010). David Meerman Scott is my favorite industry writer, and I’ve mentioned his books here before. This is the first of several blog entries I’ll do to talk about concepts in the book, in addition to picking the brains of some Deadheads to discuss it more in depth!
One marketing lesson the authors discuss is to “give back” in the same manner that the Grateful Dead played charity shows, donated money, etc. For each lesson and each chapter, the authors include a present-day example of how an organization is currently marketing like the Grateful Dead did, and the “give back” chapter cites the Ronald McDonald House Charities as their example. Specifically, the authors say that the Ronald McDonald house is “a fascinating example of Grateful Dead-style corporate giving.”
The Ronald McDonald House holds a special place in my heart. My sister had surgery as a teenager for scoliosis at a hospital about 120 miles from our home. We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House near the hospital, and it’s an experience I’ve never forgotten. My birthday fell during the week my sister was in the hospital, and the lovely women who worked at the Ronald McDonald House went to the trouble of buying me a cake and gathering all the other residents to sing happy birthday. I wasn’t even the patient!
How often do we dig around to discover what philanthropy our favorite organizations and brands are involved in? Better yet: should we have to dig around, or should this be something that’s built into brand promotion?
Another marketing lesson here: if you’re an organization that has branches, offices or stores spread far and wide, the individual parts are often greater than the whole. Ronald McDonald House has a presence currently in 52 countries across the globe. A few individuals in one chapter of a large organization made me a lifetime supporter and advocate.
There’s power in one: and when it comes to branding and reputation building, as marketers we can’t forget two important things: one person can make a big difference, and often times it’s the small, grassroots actions that make the biggest impact.