A Marketing Lesson from Justin Timberlake

By Jamie Russo in Social Media on October 1st, 2013

Justin Timberlake has mastered the art of engaging customers and has the sales numbers to prove it. Find out how your brand can learn from the pop superstar, marketing genius.

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Justin Timberlake has definitely gained significant singing and dancing experience throughout his career thanks to the Mickey Mouse Club and ‘N Sync, but that isn’t all. He has also established himself as a brilliant marketer. With his solo album The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 having recently released, it leaves us to wonder, “How does he do it?” After his album release in 2006, Timberlake announced to the media that he was taking a break from music and working on other various projects, such as acting. This left fans wondering when he would return to the stage or if he would return at all! When Timberlake finally decided to visit the recording studio once again, he kept it under wraps. This strategic marketing decision created an element of surprise and resulted in a flurry of excitement among fans when he finally did let wind of his return. Rather than the usual news release or radio promotion, he decided to utilize a different outlet to spread the news – social media. Back in January, Justin posted a short one-minute video to his Twitter account and on his personal website. The video was titled “I’m Ready” and followed Justin through the recording studio. Through social word of mouth, the news of his return was out. Timberlake broke the news exclusively via social media, which made his most loyal fans feel as if they were part of his secret, as if Justin had personally told them the big news they were waiting for. Timberlake knew that social media would be the most effective outlet to reach his target audience. The results were astonishing: the video generated more than 37,000 retweets and more than 14,000 favorites on Twitter.  The excitement among fans was overwhelming, but the only real news that came from this short video was that he would be writing music again. It did not mention a release date, album title or even a single from the CD – simply just that he was “ready.”

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It wasn’t until Timberlake shared the “Suit & Tie” video that fans learned the album would drop on March 19th. Between the release of his single “Suit & Tie” and the anticipated March album debut, Timberlake continued working his marketing magic. He was constantly posting teasers on Instagram and Twitter, photos of track lists and album artwork and even streaming the playlist in its entirety on iTunes, rallying his fans to spread the word of his return. At the end of Timberlake’s February Grammy performance, he had yet another announcement for his fans. He promised them a “special surprise” after the performance and he delivered; the music video for “Mirrors” was immediately up on YouTube, and the second single of the album was available for download on iTunes. Timberlake created sales and buzz before the album was even available and successfully captured the attention of people outside of his 2006 fan base. During a release party for The 20/20 Experience, which aired for one hour on the night of the 19th, Justin threw his fans yet another curve ball. During the last seconds of the party, Justin revealed a surprise that even his biggest die-hard fanatics didn’t see coming. The album everyone was celebrating was only half of his return to music: The 20/20 Experience was a two part album, and this was only the beginning. As we celebrate the release of The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 and the excitement begins to arise yet again, fans are left wondering “What’s next?” No one knows, but the mere fact that loyal fans are so engaged in his brand validates the marketing mastery that Timberlake has perfected over the years. As you listen to Timberlake's new album, ask yourself this: “What can I learn from Justin’s genius personal branding strategy that could translate over to my company?” Are you creating experiences that engage your customers on social platforms, such as Twitter? Are you building excitement around your products and services? Do your customers feel a sense of loyalty towards your brand? We might not be able to sing and dance as well as Justin can, but at BKV, we know how to engage and activate your loyal fans to build your brand. Contact BKV's social media experts today to get started!