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Marketing lessons with John Legend | My Metro

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Marketing lessons with John Legend

If there’s any vocalist who can sing his way through his audiences’ TV sets and subsequently credit cards, it’s John Legend. On Saturday 1st of November, the singer delivered what could only be described as a legendary performance on the UK talent hunt show, X-factor. The live performance which aired during the 2nd intermission showed the velvet-voiced singer delivering his perfectly pitched notes with such ease that even an active 8-month old baby was held spellbound throughout 5-minute performance. When Dermot O’Leary, the host asked where viewers could get “more of that” John replied, “We’re planning a UK tour next summer” with such nonchalance that you could be forgiven for not realising that the show had been booked, with tickets being offered for sale.

That ladies and gentlemen, is how you sell out a show in 10 minutes.

Additional Marketing Resources

According to The Chartered Institute of Marketing, this is the combination of activities under a company’s control that can be manipulated to achieve marketing objectives.

Marketing is the ability of an organisation to provide the right product, at the right price, via the right outlets (place) and presented in the right way (promotion). This is also known as the 4Ps. However, in addition to product, price, place and promotion.

More educational resources:




While many like me luxuriated in enjoyed that X-factor performance, what we were actually experience was a carefully orchestrated marketing dance with two distinct features:

  • Product. Ensure your product is bullet-proof. Confidence in ones product is vital, and this confidence can only be built by putting the hard work into building the product. Mr Legend’s performance suggested that a good number of practice hours must have gone into perfecting his craft enough to deliver such silky vocals effortlessly.  If you’re marketing a technical product, it might not be as simple as waiting until the product is completed to perfection as this can take a considerable length of time. Proponents of the Lean Startup ideology suggest using a minimum viable product method to release a series of premature, yet functional versions of the product out to the market to gain customer feedback which then drives the next level of innovation. This popular diagram clearly explains it, and this blog does a good job of explaining how to get there:


  • Promotion. Don’t just tell them, show them. Using the age-old open market stall technique where sellers would allow shoppers try out products (usually food) for free, Mr Legend offered prospective show attendees a free sampling of his rich voice on TV.  This was the modern day equivalent of my first marketing lesson, aged 9. Shopping with my mum in Aguda market, Lagos, we found ourselves drawn to a crowd gathered around a thickset woman who made a point of jumping up and down on an overturned plastic “basin”. She has so much faith in her products that she declared the basins indestructible, and invited anyone who dared to take the jumping challenge. As you probably guessed, the crowd responded in a frenzy with each person begging the jumping woman to please accept their ₦250 pittance in exchange for the indestructible Ughelli-manufactured plastic basins. No further pitch necessary. In fact, that was the first time I heard of the place called Ughelli in Delta state, and it had in my mind become synonymous with indestructible plastic basins. The basin celebrated its 21st birthday with us last year.Print

Back to John Legend. X-factor, the show where his performance aired is the equivalent of marching one’s family in a single file,  sitting each person in front of the TV and gluing them to the sofa. And then getting them to call their friends to do the same. Ok, probably not, but at its lowest audience count, X-factor had 7.22m viewers. Not bad, considering that the classic movie “Beetlejuice” aired an hour earlier, and only attracted 1/10th (780,000) of the number of viewers.

With tickets selling between £19 and £42, one can only watch and wait to see if the pricing was right enough to sell out.



About Zima Meli

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