It’s no secret that The Stones are on their 50th anniversary tour. What may come as a secret to many is that they are one of the most successful small businesses in history.
What’s more, it is one we can all learn from. The band never talks about their business in business terms but they absolutely think about it that way. The question is, what can we learn from them? Try this, which I guarantee you is far more valuable than anything you will pick up at Wharton:
*Never let anything diminish the power and the mystique of the brand. The Stones never went disco, they never abandoned their center of gravity, they refused to change with the times. In fact, as the times evolved and music changed, The Stones continued to define cool in every decade since they put their stamp on the world a half century ago. A brand is not a logo: it is a promise and The Stones always made good on theirs.
*Beware of the threat of complacency. The Stones, like every great business, have never taken their product or their fans for granted. Never a mediocre show. Not one grade B song. They have all the money they could ever need and then some and yet every time they play a concert, it is as if they are being given a once in a lifetime career break they had better not blow. At 69, Mick is very much the magic act he was at 19.
*Understand the power of mystique. Great brands are not oversold. Over 50 years, The Stones have been highly-judicious about the use of their songs, media interviews, television appearances. Jagger\Richards would be welcomed on every major TV show once a week as the star of the day but they knew that with their brand of product, less is more.
*Develop a signature product or set of them that are evergreen and will always provide a springboard and a powerful differentiator for whatever you do. The likes of “Start Me Up” and “Satisfaction” are in the pantheon of extraordinary that have provided a platform for the brand through the years and place them in a rarefied place few can ever aspire to and no one can challenge.
*Never lose sight of the fact that as much as your company\product may be admired and even adored, it is never divine. People are paying to buy what you are selling and once you think that they are stupid, indiscriminate or robotic in their patronage, you will lose them. Although part of The Stones surely tire of the groupies, they appear to revel in the adulation, making everyone feel like a member of the band…a VIP at the party.
Mick once attended The London School Of Economics. He could join the faculty now and hold the only class worth attending.