by Alasdair McLellan

What Adele’s Record Sales Can Teach Us About Being Universal

by AJ Agrawal on Startup Grind

Adele has seen millions of records sold across the world, with ‘25’ selling 5.98 million in its first four weeks. Despite having a clear target audience, she has managed to cross over demographics. It’s led to her achieving huge success, as a result. The principles her success is based on have nothing to do with her brand image.

Instead, it’s all to do with how she has operated on the principle of universality. This guide is going to show you some of the lessons people can learn from being universal.

Lesson 1: It Can Be Done

This is something many people simply can’t grasp. Companies are so used to focusing on one target demographic and hitting them again and again that it’s impossible for them to comprehend the idea that they can appeal to everybody.

When you look deeper into a company, most of them have aspects that could appeal to more than one audience. But organizations fail to realize this and thus they never reach their potential.
Adele’s record sales across practically all demographics demonstrate that any brand can do it if they really want to.

Lesson 2: Make Yourself Relevant

Adele is firmly in the mainstream. What people forget is this didn’t really happen until she became the singer for the theme for the James Bond movie Skyfall, connecting with the virality of the movie. She was always popular, but the average person on the street had barely heard of her.

Only when she collaborated with the James Bond franchise did she hit new heights — and that buzz has sustained itself years afterwards.

What companies can learn from this is that making yourself relevant is about associating yourself with relevant things. For example, many organizations tried to take advantage of Star Wars by offering themed promotions and hilarious memes posted on social media.

Little things like this can help you to reach other audiences you would have never previously taken into account.

Lesson 3: Always Keep Evolving

Like all musicians, Adele started at the bottom with one single demographic in mind. Her musical style was designed to impress that audience over and over again. It was only later that her style evolved to take in more people. She led her loyal fans along with her, even if not everyone preferred her new style. It didn’t take long before what she was offering interested multiple demographics.

Any niche must understand the importance of evolving in becoming universal. You have to break out of your bubble and try new things, rather than concentrating on a small demographic all the time.

By all means, start with them, but never rest where you are. Try new things and grow your range of products and services to take in more people.

Lesson 4: Great Things Take Time

Adele is far from a musician who achieved immediate success. Her rise to mainstream prominence was relatively quick. However, getting into that position in the first place took time. Universality is not something that will happen overnight.

It may take years to achieve. Don’t make the mistake of trying to target absolutely everyone at the same time. This will lead to a confused marketing campaign.

Lesson 5: The Need for Strong Relationships

Strong relationships apply to both your personal life and your life in business. Strong relationships are only created through making genuine connections with your target audience. Adele’s record sales have sustained themselves, and grown, over an extended period of time. The same people are buying her albums.

It goes to show that loyalty does take time to build, but when you do build it you have a customer/friend for life. A positive relationship between you and your consumers will assure your company’s future.

So How Do You Start Getting Universal?

You heard it here: it takes time. You can get actionable in a small way by looking at your current circle of associates and thinking about how to bring others into it. Be honest and ask whether you have made enough effort to diversify?

Of course, Adele is a musician and she can naturally create loyal fans because she has an established brand image in a creative industry. Not every business will be able to be universal, nor is it in your best interests to do so.

The most important takeaway from this guide is that you have to expand your current reach and broaden your horizons. This will lead to more customers and more loyal customers who will buy in to everything you have to offer.

What have you learned from Adele about being universal?

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