12 Marketing and Sales Lessons from a U2 Concert

Last weekend I danced and sang out loud at Twickenham Stadium along with thousands of others including my partner — an unabashed, raving U2 fan. The 2017 Joshua Tree tour was my first U2 concert (I really like U2 but my attendance at their concerns always gets trumped so that my husband can go multiple times…fair enough!)

I loved the show but I couldn’t help being fascinated as a marketing and sales advisor to businesses. Like every day, I saw a lot of lessons that we could all learn to better reach, connect with and serve our prospects and customers.

Here are the 12 lessons from my U2 concert experience:

1. Reward your best customers.

I wasn’t kidding when I said my husband was a major U2 Fan. This was his license plate when we lived in Arizona and now it decorates our house in London.

He has been a paying member of the U2 fan club for years and, consequently, he gets first access to tickets. In fact, not only did he get early purchase power, we were in a section full of other fan club members with AMAZING seats. I mean, we even had a TABLE for my drink! He never misses a concert and usually attends each show at least twice. He buys every album. He is a perfect customer!

LESSON #1: Don’t get so caught up in new prospects and leads that you forget your best customers.

What special perks, rewards and recognitions are you giving your best customers?

2. Plan your ass off.

We have been married for about 17 years and I have planned every vacation we have ever taken. It turns out, that I didn’t need to. When it came time for this concert, my husband was ALL OVER IT. He checked train times, tube options, parking lots (and parking lot hours), traffic patterns…heck, he might have even downloaded some satellite data. It was impressive! He did it all to make sure that he there on time and ready.

LESSON #2: Be early and be ready for your prospects and customers.

How can you improve your planning and organization to get the most out of a meeting or event?

3. Surround yourself with passionate people.

It’s pretty obvious that in my marriage, I am the sales/marketing/strategy nerd and my husband is the music buff (hard to believe that I used to be a radio DJ). But, when I go to a concert, I can’t help but get caught up in the energy of the audience. All that passion and spectacle sucks me in and, for that 3 hours, I am a FAN.

LESSON #3: Use passion and enthusiasm to draw your prospects and customers into your tribe.

Are you ‘playing it cool’? Or are you showing your customers that it’s okay to be impressed and excited by what you’re selling?

4. Do good and make money.

The concessions were packed at the concert! I probably wouldn’t have even bothered to get a drink except that I had a TABLE and desperately wanted to take advantage of it. I saw a sign saying that Twickenham was trying to reduce waste and then I saw how they were doing it. Instead of the usual cheap, disposable cups — they were serving beer in concert-branded, reusable plastic pint cups. They were charging more for the beer but they discounted refills and everyone took home their cups. Including me.

LESSON #4: Find ways to be socially responsible and profitable.

How could you leverage your products and services to help others besides yourself? Perhaps reusing your facilities and donating them for use by charities? Maybe you could encourage and facilitate recycling of your products? Be creative but make it happen!

5. Have strong beliefs and be okay with it.

U2, especially Bono, has always been vocal about his beliefs. At this show, he dedicated a song to a time when “HIStory would become HERstory.”

During the song, they showed images of women who shape our world. After the show, as we traveled home, I said to my husband that I was so impressed. He questioned if I would be vocal about my beliefs even if it meant that certain companies or people wouldn’t want to do business with me. The answer was YES.

I believe in equal rights regardless of color, religion, gender or sexual orientation. If that bothers you, don’t call me. I am happier without your business.

LESSON #5: Don’t sell your soul along with your products.

Are you selling a product that hurts your heart? Stop doing it. Are you selling to people that you wouldn’t want your kids to be like? Stop dealing with them. Sometimes it really is that simple.

6. You are always being seen.

I am not sure if I’ve mentioned the amazing seats we had (LOL) but we just above one of the VIP areas. Noel Gallagher opened for U2 in London and afterward, he watched U2 perform from that VIP area. Now, I was never an Oasis fan but after watching him for 3 hours, I might be willing to try. I observed him patiently shake hands with dozens of fans and pose for photos. I saw him high-five his youngest son and flirt with his wife. He wasn’t even aware of me (sad, but true) but I left liking him more.

LESSON #6: Always present yourself as you want to be known.

From meeting receptionists to having a drink at the bar, are you always presenting yourself in a way that you’d be happy for your clients to see?

7. Recognize your support team.

U2 are really famous. I imagine that anyone would work with them and be glad for the chance. But what impressed me was that Bono acknowledged his support team from the stage with genuine gratitude. And it wasn’t a generic “thank you” but rather calling out by name including people that are rarely given kudos like the stage designers.

LESSON #7: You don’t sell alone, make sure you recognize your team.

When was the last time you shared the glory or even a simple thank you to your support team? And I don’t just mean the obvious candidates but also the Whole Company Selling contributors like support or delivery. Share the love!

8. Find and keep a talented team.

I got a lot of U2 education from my husband on the way to and from the concert. Turns out that U2 is incredibly loyal and often brings back the same support team concert after concert. For example, Willie Williams has been responsible for every U2 stage design for the past 35 years!

LESSON #8: Find people that understand how you work and share your vision, build an amazing team and keep them.

Who are your go to people and are you creating a rhythm of success in your group?

9. The past doesn’t dictate the future.

In one of U2’s songs (God Part 2), the lyrics are: “You glorify the past when the future dries up.” My husband interpreted that to mean that they would never do a tour revival. But, it turns out that even though they wanted to honor the original Joshua Tree tour, they were still quite happy to mix it up a bit with a few new songs, new visuals and new experience.

LESSON #9: Keep what works and tweak the rest.

Are you benefiting from the past — seeing what works — while still stretching yourself to improve? From demos to emails, we should always be growing and experimenting while keeping the best bits.

10. It’s a first for them.

U2 have been touring for decades. This tour was a repeat of one they did 1987. They will perform THIS show 51 times over 4 legs. For them, it might get a little repetitive but for us, the audience, every show has to feel like the FIRST time, the BEST time.

LESSON #10: Treat every deal and every demo like it’s your favorite.

Are you keeping yourself fresh and engaged at every step? Or are you falling into routines that squash your energy and come across as just “going through the motions”?

11. Have a circle of trust.

I learned that the members of U2 have a lot of friends from their childhood and early days. These are the honest voices that tell them when they’ve gone too far to the dark side. We all need people like this!

LESSON #11: Make sure you have honest, supportive people keeping you on track.

As a sales and marketing expert, do you sometimes buy into your own hype? Are you checking in with your inner circle and making sure you that you stay authentic?

12. Watch and learn.

I went to a concert last weekend. I read an advertisement on the tube yesterday (that’s a subway for my American peeps). I consumed 3 articles on sales early this morning. I met with my sales mastermind buddy last Friday. In short, I am always watching and learning from the world around me.

LESSON #12: Always be learning.

Are you challenging yourself to learn new skills and see new perspectives that will make you a better marketer or salesperson?

Clearly, this was a lengthy article but if you read all the way through, you will have gotten a dozen great tips for being a better sales and marketing professional. And, you might also have learned a few things about U2. Perhaps not enough to earn your own license plate but enough to see them in a new light and on a new stage — I certainly did.

Special thanks to my husband, Paul, for a great night out and for not laughing too hard when he saw me take an amazing concert and turn it into an article about selling.

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Julie Holmes is a sales & marketing advisor, speaker and Whole Company Selling leader. She works with B2B companies that want to sell more and increase their customer lifetime value by helping everyone in their organization understand and share their value with prospects and customers. Give her a call if you’d like to have everyone in your company was selling. www.julieholmes.com

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