The most recognisable face in the world belongs to a man who
was born seventy five years ago last week.
Although Elvis Aaron Presley has not been on this planet for
the last thirty two of those years – because he is either dead or abducted by
aliens – he is as popular, and as profitable, as he was in his prime.
Say “Elvis” in Borneo or Outer Mongolia or Mali and people
will know who you mean. If human civilisation lasts another hundred years, it
is probable his name will be remembered when all the powerful statesmen of our
time are forgotten.
The Elvis brand was the result of a unique convergence of
circumstances. No one should rely on anything like it happening again. However,
Elvis still has something to teach entrepreneurs about marketing.
1 A good name helps. Elvis’s odd Christian
name turned out to be one of his greatest assets. It was unusual and therefore
memorable, and the fact that it rhymed with “pelvis” drew attention to another
of his assets.
2 Confidence is infectious. Although polite
and modest when meeting strangers, Elvis was completely sure of himself as a
performer. This made him the undisputed master of every stage, film set, and
3 Keep reinventing and renewing the brand.
There were many successful young singers in the 50s, but most never moved
beyond 50s material – and soon lapsed into obscurity or, worse, degenerated
into nostalgia acts. Elvis kept trying new things beyond rock and roll singles
– from films to 60s ballads to Las Vegas to jumpsuits.
4 Invest in the best. Elvis bought
material from talented songwriters and built up a close working relationship
with skilled musicians. This gave him good songs and good presentation to show
off his natural talents.
5 Make an impact. When it comes to
promoting your product, it is better to be excessive than to be ignored.
6 There is no substitute for a good product.
However much we might respect the salesmanship, there is still no denying that
Elvis could not have been as big as he was if he had not been blessed with a
unique package of talents: good looks, a magnetic stage and film presence, a
genuinely likeable personality, and a beautiful singing voice. Marketing drew
attention to his gifts – but only because they were already there.