How does Taylor Swift, with her 190 million social media followers and over $400 million in annual revenue, go beyond music to master the art of persuasion and influence in marketing and business? Let’s look at seven ways Taylor Swift masters global marketing, influence, and unity.
When I posted this poll on LinkedIn: Are you going to The Eras Tour movie – yes or no?, four people responded. One of them was me.
Even if you’re not a Swiftie, everyone can learn a lot about life, love, and yes, marketing, from Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift is everywhere right now: in The Eras Tour in movie theaters, in NFL game highlights, and even popping up for a quick Taylor Swift cameo on Saturday Night Live.
While I may not be Taylor’s biggest music fan, I do love her songs, AND I am in the front row of her marketing cheering section.
In thinking about how Taylor does what she does, I wondered how her approach would match up with Robert Cialdini’s seven principles of persuasion.
Taylor Swift’s empire is a rich place with business lessons we all can learn from. Whether you’re pitching investors, engaging customers, speaking to an audience, or inspiring teams, you can use these techniques to attract more attention, build a bigger brand, and click with more communities.
The Scarcity Principle: Manufacturing Exclusivity
From limited edition merch drops to not streaming her music, Swift manufactures scarcity. On September 8, I worked to get October 13 premiere movie tickets to Swift’s The Eras Tour movie. Going through the experience of getting any Taylor Swift tickets triggers Cialdini’s scarcity principle. I wanted those scarce tickets even more. False scarcity tactics like announcing additional showtimes 48 hours before opening further fueled demand.
Scarcity increases the perceived value of your offering by making it exclusive. Use time limits, limited quantities, and access restrictions ethically to encourage urgent action.
The Reciprocity Principle: Giving Unexpectedly
Swift surprises fans with gifts and personal touches, triggering Cialdini’s reciprocity principle. When you give first, people feel compelled to return the gesture. Swift’s reciprocity fosters community among fans who feel part of an inner circle. And, within the Swiftie community, fans exchange custom-made friendship bracelets with personalized messages.
Use reciprocity by giving small unexpected gifts to new customers. Send handwritten thank you notes to repeat clients. Reciprocity establishes goodwill and emotional bonds.
The Social Proof Principle: Reading the Room
By reinventing her style and music across eras, Swift taps into Cialdini’s social proof principle. People look to others to guide behavior, especially in uncertain situations. Fans want to stay part of the cultural conversation Swift generates.
Take Swift’s cue and pay attention to market trends for your industry and customers. Align with what’s popular and culturally relevant in the moment. Social proof is reassurance you’re making the right choice.
The Liking Principle: Being Authentically Relatable
Swift forges connection through vulnerable song lyrics. Fans feel they know the real person behind the celebrity. This activates Cialdini’s liking principle, where we say yes to those we know and trust.
Reveal your human side to customers. Share company values, passion projects, and behind-the-scenes moments. Likability builds relationships beyond transactions.
The Authority Principle: Borrowing Credibility
By partnering with credible artists and brands, Swift gains authoritative clout. People defer to experts. Aligning with recognized figures and companies transfers authority by association.
Strategically partner with authoritative voices in your space: influencers, brands, and publications. Their credibility gives you instant esteem.
The Consistency Principle: Committing to Your Craft
Swift’s fans remain loyal because of her consistent authenticity. Despite evolving her music, Swift’s honest vulnerability persists. People want consistency between words and actions.
Stick to your core values and messaging. But allow room to organically change tactics, offerings, and processes to improve. Consistency matters more in purpose than form.
The Unity Principle: Fostering Shared Identity
By uniting fans behind the “Swiftie” identity, Swift strengthens their bonds. Unity satisfies the human need to belong. United groups become tribes with inner status and privilege.
Unite your customers behind ideas they care about. Tap into motivations larger than commerce, like social causes and lifestyle affiliations. Shared identity sticks.
Activating All 7 Principles of Persuasion
Swift leverages all of Cialdini’s principles in concert for optimal influence. She ethically taps into core human motivations for reciprocation, scarcity, social cues, authority, and unity. The result is an unstoppable force combining sound marketing and social psychology.
Orchestrate your marketing, branding, and messaging to incorporate multiple principles. Address both emotions and logic. Persuasion works best when rational and psychological needs align.
The Swift Effect: Marketing Lessons Learned
Swift provides key lessons for persuading audiences in marketing and business:
- Engineer exclusivity
- Give unexpectedly
- Stay culturally relevant
- Reveal your human side
- Partner with authorities
- Commit to your purpose
- Unite people behind ideas
- Activate multiple motivators
At its core, influence is about making connections. Swift masters this, not just making content but forging community. She understands marketing is about understanding human needs and tapping into them ethically. Teams, customers, and audiences say yes when you appeal to both hearts and minds.
So take a cue from Taylor and enchant your audiences. By creating scarcity, giving back, harnessing social proof, building likability and authority, sticking to your purpose, and uniting people behind shared ideas, you too can achieve persuasion perfection as you unite your team, customers, and community.
What song does your marketing sound like right now?
“Shake it Off” “Blank Space” “Bad Blood”
If you’d like it to sound more like . . .
“Enchanted” “You Belong with Me” “Love Story”