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Lessons from the Brixton Academy

You will be recommended a lot of business books to read this summer.

A lot of them will include fancy graphs. Many will have inspirational quotes. But few will give you as much real insight into business as ‘Live at the Brixton Academy’.

It’s certainly not sold as a business book. In fact the author, Simon Parkes, decided to write it after coming down with a life threatening illness and realising his kids had little idea of the adventures he’d been through.

It’s quite a story: from striking a deal at the age of 23 to buy what would become Britain’s most awarded venue for just £1, to his dealings with gangsters and drug dealers.

But among the rock and roll stories are some important lessons for businesses and their marketing strategies. The list is long, but the ones that particularly stand out are:

Follow your gut instinct and go with it – think things up and make them happen. Some things won’t be right, and some won’t work, but if you measure everything properly you will get there.

Say yes to everything (within reason) and see what sticks. As we wrote in a recent post, Paddy Power live by this philosophy and it really works.

Take your reputation seriously – both your personally and for your business. The devil really is in the detail, and it all adds up.

But above all this, one quote stood out:

“It was always the total experience of a gig that mattered to me. From the moment a punter saw a poster or held a ticket in their hands to when they walk out and go and tell their mates about it. It all matters and should be extraordinary”

It’s a quote which many of today’s marketers seem to be missing.

Numerous businesses will happily invest heavily in an ad campaign – but not reflect it on the website.

Many will develop a re-brand with values and creative that isn’t reflected in the product or service.

And plenty will happily ignore prospect journeys that change the minute they’re thrown over the fence to sales (for better or worse depending on who you talk to).

The truth is, we need to stop focusing on specific channels and tactics and start to see the bigger picture. We need to make every experience (touch point if you’re feeling fancy) throughout the sales process and right through to on-boarding not only add up but become something special and completely different from the competition.

That’s how Brixton Academy went from a derelict cinema in one of the most run down parts of London to the most celebrated live music venue in the country. And that too is how you will make your business truly excel.

 Go and buy the book. There’s a lot of thinking to do.