I’ve been in the cash machine queue half an hour already…
But I’m not getting anywhere.
Plus, I’m losing the will to live.
The drinks queue is equally stupid, and I figure by the time the main act is on, even if I swap queues now, I’ll only have time for one pint anyway.
That means the little cash I have on me will cover a pint for me and wine for Lin, and a bottle of water to share.
I don’t need cash after all; I swap queues.
Skip forward an hour.
I finally have a drink – what’s termed a superpint apparently – and I’ve made my way back into the arena proper, found my seat and given Lin her wine.
The support act has just finished and the roadies are fixing up the stage for the main event.
Now, I’m an alternative kind of guy whom you’re more likely to bump into at a run-down pub in the north of England checking out a £5-entry post-rock gig…
But here I was, herded into Sheffield Arena about to watch Drake – perhaps the third most successful rapper working today, after Jay-Z and Eminem.
You see, as Lin is into this stuff, I’ve inadvertently built up quite an in-depth knowledge of modern hip-hop. I’ve seen Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, A$AP Rocky, 2 Chains… the list goes on.
Some I actually enjoy – others not so much. But anyway, here we are – amongst the scantily-clad youth of Sheffield – to see the top dog: multi-millionaire Canadian rapper, Drake.
Little do I realise I’m about to witness a master class in repeat business marketing!
Keep the customers coming back
The show was fair enough.
Drake ran through most of his hits. The light show was just the right side of epileptic. And the performance itself was full of energy.
But what really impressed me was this guy’s awareness of the principle of repeat business.
Well, in business, the real secret to long-term success is to keep your customers coming back.
In fact, getting one customer to pay twice is often easier than finding a brand new customer.
As a copywriter, you’ll no doubt have been asked to write emails encouraging customers to renew their subscription to a newsletter. Or maybe you’ll have been asked to work on an auto-responder series designed to keep people interested in a membership site.
Renewal copy is incredibly important.
Indeed, I’ve seen renewal income keep businesses alive that would otherwise have been in deep doo-doo. That’s the power of repeat business.
And that’s why Drake was so impressive.
He did three specific things, which I think you can learn a lot from.
Engage, engage, engage
First, for large sections of the show, images of the audience were projected onto the huge screens behind the stage.
Not only was the quality of these images unnervingly good – affording you the odd feeling you’re watching the live DVD at the same time as the actual live performance – it also gives the crowd the sensation of being truly involved in the show.
I expect every fan that saw their face on the screen behind Drake will rush to buy the DVD when it’s released, just to see if they can spot themselves again.
And the next clever thing he did was invite on stage a rather sturdy woman from the crowd and then serenade her.
Now, this isn’t a new conceit. Artists have been bringing audience members on stage and singing at them for decades.
But here Drake was particularly smart by not bringing on the type of woman you’d typically expect him to.
If you’ve ever seen a modern rap video on MTV, you’ll know what type of woman I’m talking about here (I recall someone describing such videos as “all tits and lips” which is quite accurate, and funny). Instead, Drake serenaded an obviously ‘larger’ woman and did so genuinely, with no obvious cynicism.
A cynical choice or not, by doing so he endeared himself to women of all shapes and sizes, giving everyone an equal chance to dream that next time: it could be them.
All good so far, but the finale was his masterpiece.
Having spent the vast majority of the show on stage, he spent the final hour walking around above the crowd on a hydraulic runway that was lowered from the arena ceiling.
Getting ‘into’ the crowd like this was visually good, but the best thing was what he did once he was in the crowd.
You see, for what must have been a good 30-45 minutes, he bounded around this runway and performed an ‘off-the-cuff’ rap about all the people (mostly women) he could see in the audience.
He pointed out that girl with the blonde hair and told her how pretty she was.
He pointed out that girl with the pink t-shirt and told her how sexy she was.
He pointed out that bloke with the Drake t-shirt on and thanked him for his support.
Now, I hope he was making it up as he went along, but something tells me everything he said was pretty damn generic and could be repeated to equal effect on any given night.
(Maybe I’m just sore he didn’t spot me, despite being the only guy wearing a tweed jacket and checked scarf. Perhaps I wasn’t projecting myself properly.)
Anyway, the point is, by going around and pointing people out like this, Drake was cleverly drumming up repeat business in a very direct way:
All the women (and men, for that matter) who thought Drake ‘called them out’ will no doubt be quick to buy his next record. They have a connection now.
Drake’s second record has sold around 2.2 million copies in the US to date. It has been out 2 years and 4 months.
His third, most recent record has ALREADY sold 1.5 million in the US. It has been out just 6 months.
The technique itself reminds me of a newsletter I used to receive that published the names of new subscribers in the first issue that you received. (I think it was from Nick James for some reason – ah, actually it could have been Andrew Reynolds.)
It seems simple, but seeing your name there in the newsletter gives you a connection with it. It makes you a part of it.
Drake was using the very same principle.
It’s interesting, right?
And when we come back to copywriting, I think there’s a good lesson here: that at all times you should be looking to involve your reader. You need to make them a part of the story you’re telling. If you can do this from the initial sales message, you’re on to a winner.
Of course, after the point of sale, this becomes much easier, as you’re able to have a much more intimate relationship – you can ask for their name, their interests, their concerns and talk to them much more directly.
But even before a sale, you can find numerous ways to bring your reader into the story. Drake knew there would be a pretty blonde girl in his audience and that there would likely be one wearing pink, or yellow, or black, or whatever damn colour he fancied choosing on any given night.
You should use this same technique in your sales writing.
Well, as I’ve said before, you should assess your audience and understand what common ideas they think about, what common beliefs they hold, what common things they do.
If you do that, you can reference these things and give the illusion you’re speaking directly to them about the thoughts they have.
It’s all about researching your audience. In fact, if you’re having trouble connecting with your audience I almost guarantee it has nothing to do with your writing and more to do with the fact you haven’t properly researched who you’re speaking to.
So, I’m not recommending you go out and listen to Drake (I prefer his second album, if you do). But I do recommend you learn from his ability to connect with his customers in a very convincing way to ensure that they keep coming back to buy album after album and ticket after ticket.
A few weeks after seeing Drake, I went for a meal with my brother and his girlfriend here in London.
I mentioned that we’d been to see Drake and my brother’s girlfriend, being a huge Drake fan, explained that she’d been too.
But she’d been to the Manchester show.
How was it, I asked?
“Oh, Glenn, it was amazing,” she told me excitedly.
“He came into the crowd and he was pointing people out and he came round to where we were stood and I was wearing this yellow dress and waving and he waved back and shouted out to ME!”