Did you know that the big break that launched ABBA to superstardom was winning Eurovision in 1974 with the song, “Waterloo”?
I bring up the year 1974 because the band’s business has been going strong for over 50 years and the latest effort of brand management for the band, ABBA Voyage, sells about 99% of its tickets each week and brings in about $2M a week in sales.
Those are huge numbers for a band that is over 50 years old, in a post-COVID environment where it is a struggle to get ticket buyers into many events, and in a country with a cost-of-living-crisis, and at a venue that is not in the heart of the city.
What can we learn from ABBA’s success that we can apply to our own situations?
First, the power of brand management to generate future demand.
I’d put ABBA up there with other bands that are legacy acts category as some of the best brand managers in the business like The Rolling Stones, Queen, and Bob Marley.
Who am I kidding?
ABBA is in a class all their own.
The band played less than 100 live shows, made 9 albums, and have only had one new album since 1981, yet has a musical playing in multiple cities, the 9th longest running show in Broadway history, and a new music event in London built with avatars in a way that sells tons of tickets.
They’ve mastered the 3 essential questions of brand management:
- Who is our customer? They play to nostalgia and the people that were alive then or appreciate a specific period of music from the 70s that can still sound fresh now. That’s a specific form of targeting based on behavior.
- Why us? The value proposition is that you’ll have fun. The Mamma Mia movies might have had the pretense of a serious story, but it was all about the songs, the dancing, the vibes, and FUN.
- Brand Codes: ABBA is on everything. “Mamma Mia” is everywhere. The Bs facing in different directions. All are brand codes. You see them, you know the brand. Those songs are sonic branding. They don’t think they can be used too much. They follow the rule, “Codify everything. And, when you think you’ve gone too far. You codify some more.”
Learn this lesson. It will make you money.
Two, the customer experience matters…and everything matters.
Look at the stats on the ABBA Arena:
- 3,000 people
- 291 speakers
- Immersive use of LED screens
Sure, if you purpose build an arena for a show…it is easier.
But I want you to look past this to consider a few questions that ABBA and their team have answered:
- What touchpoints matter?
- How do we control the maximum amount of our experience?
- What tools and techniques can we use to transport our guests so that the event is truly special?
It can’t be what you think. It has to be about what your customers think. That’s where ABBA is winning…the decisions are being made to give the guests what they want.
Never forget, no customer, no business.
Third, price = perceived value.
A strong brand will give you pricing power and price integrity.
Price power means you get the price you want.
Price integrity means you don’t have to justify the price because your marketing has done that for you through your brand building efforts.
$105 average ticket price tells you pretty clearly that people will pay for value.
As a venue, team, or performer, your job is to manage the perception of value of coming to your event.
In my special event in NYC, I’m going to talk about selling the impact of your event, product, or service.
There is also the power of using intangible value to reinforce the value of your event.
What is intangible value?
- The time with family or friends.
- The joy of hearing the music you love in a unique setting.
- The stress you throw off by getting on that ABBA dance floor.
People don’t use it nearly enough.
Part of the reason that ABBA’s show can command these prices, the intangibles.
To recap, we can all learn from ABBA and the success of this latest show…
- The power of proper brand management. They’ve had a 50 year career with billions of dollars of revenue and tons of brand extensions built on less than a decade of peak creative output.
- Brand codes matter because they are the symbols that keep you top of mind in people’s thoughts.
- Pricing power = perceived value. Know that value comes in tangible and intangible versions.
P.S. I’m talking pricing on Wednesday, September 20 at 1230PM.