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Unless you’ve been living under a rock (no pun intended!) for the past 36 years, you’ve probably heard of Metallica, a heavy metal band that is one of the “Big Four” credited with bringing heavy, thrash metal music to the forefront of the music industry.
Despite ever-shifting music trends, drastic changes in how music is consumed and infinite competition, the band still manages to top charts and sell out tours year after year. And, since many of the challenges they have faced are similar to what most small businesses have to face, here are some lessons that your business can learn from Metallica.
1. ” . . . And Justice For All”
Small businesses often think that they need to broaden their product or service offerings to appeal to many different demographic groups and types of consumers. But, it’s much better for your small business to follow Metallica’s example and make sure your offerings appeal to a particular niche. It may seem counterintuitive, but capitalizing on a specific niche allows you to create a sense of deep sense of community and brand loyalty.
It’s always easier to get customers that already love you to buy more than it is to court and convert new customers.
So, Metallica doesn’t try to capitalize on the various music trends and release dubstep or rap songs, in addition to their albums and tours. Instead, they sell products that shape a full lifestyle for their target audience, offering complementary products for their fans like shirts, wearable merch and posters . . . they even license their brand for pinball machines.
2. “All Within My Hands”
Small business owners often feel they have to do everything themselves. They think they have something to prove and help is the bad kind of four-letter word. But, there’s no way Metallica could create their songs, drive their tour bus, set up their elaborate stage show, sell their tickets, create their merchandise, do their PR scheduling and more all by themselves. Understand when you need help.
Just as importantly, recognize when you have operational problems and address them head on. When lead singer James Hetfield had addiction issues and the band had all kinds of struggles, they didn’t know how to handle it on their own. So, they brought in a life coach and worked together to get through it. There will be issues in your business that will invariably arise and you could benefit from having an expert in that particular arena look at it with fresh, objective eyes.
3. “The Struggle Within”
Another common struggle for businesses is changing and growing with the times. When Metallica was first gaining widespread success in the 80s and early 90s, they were known for their, uh, “understated” image marked by dirty t-shirts, ripped jeans and long hair along with their super heavy music style. So, when they released Load and Reload in the mid-90s and the cover featured the band with short, slick-backed hair, sunglasses and fancy suits along with songs that were much more rock-oriented, they were almost unrecognizable.
So, while change and growth are a necessary part of business success, you don’t want to alienate your existing customer base in the process. Striking that perfect balance can be a challenge, so consider offering a separate variation or twist on a fan-favorite offering, rather than completely changing or replacing it outright.
Learn from Metallica and “Carpe Diem Baby!”