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What Marketers Can Learn from Taylor Swift... Ready for it?

Taylor Swift makes her fans feel like her friends. Marketers everywhere should take a page from her book—or a verse from her song, if you will.



I hesitate to use absolutes, but for this topic, I’ll make an exception. Everyone reading this post has heard of Taylor Swift. Whether you’re in the “eh, not my kind of music” camp, or the self-proclaimed Swiftie camp, you know that her reach and fanbase is something to be envied. Her Instagram posts garner millions of interactions, her email list alone sells out stadiums, and these days, her fans do a lot of marketing leg work on her behalf, turning her songs into TikTok trends and posting endless speculative theories about song meanings, about easter eggs in music videos, about old celebrity flames.


Swift's Secret Sauce

I talk a lot about knowing your audience being the secret sauce in copywriting, in design, in marketing—but I think Taylor Swift shows us another kind of sauce. She has transcended genres, moving from country music to pop and everywhere in the pop fringes. So, what is it? What has made her fan base stick with her from genre to genre and skyrocket from there? I can’t speak to the intricacies of the music industry, but as a marketer, I think it comes down to this:

Taylor Swift’s marketing succeeds not because she knows her audience, but because she makes her audience feel like they know her.

These days, Taylor obviously has a brilliant marketing team behind her, but this strategy has been with her from the release of her very first album. When the earliest Swifties cracked into that CD case back in 2006, when they popped their CDs into their boom boxes and leafed through the included lyric booklet—they found something interesting.


All her lyrics were typed out in lowercase—no capitalized sentences or proper nouns. Instead, the only capitalized letters could be found in the middle of random words. And when savvy Swifties wrote down each capital letter, they found messages.


In Picture to Burn, Taylor advises her fans to “DATE NICE BOYS.” In Teardrops on My Guitar, she tells her fans that she never revealed her crush to “Drew,” saying “HE WILL NEVER KNOW.”


From this small marketing move, Taylor’s fans learned something: if they put in a little work, their fandom would be rewarded. It felt like they had been let in on a secret—like they were part of a community.


Since then, Taylor’s albums and music videos have been riddled with easter eggs and hidden meanings—puzzles for her devoted fans to solve. And in turn, they became more invested in Taylor Swift and her brand.


No matter how big she gets, Taylor maintains an acute ability to make each of her fans feel important to her journey and success. She almost makes her fans feel like friends—in fact, if you look back to that first album—she signed off in that same lyric booklet by saying this:

“…All you have to do to be my friend is like me… and listen.” So, like I said, if her fans listen, if they put in just a little bit of work, they’ll be rewarded.


What Marketers Should Take Away

So how do you implement Taylor’s strategy in your own marketing? Clearly the specifics of the lyric example only work in that one use case—but it all boils down to this:

Create interaction for your audience and reward them for participating.


We see this in Instagram giveaways and quizzes that will reveal which product is best suited to the potential customer, but if that interaction and reward can also create a sense of community, if, in interacting the audience learns all that there is to love about your brand, if you can make them feel like the brand loves them back?

You’ve cracked it.


This blog was first written for Targa Media Inc. and is published at targamedia.com

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