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Lessons From a Country Music Duo to Make Your Business 'Big & Rich' Professional musicians give inspiring performances. Successful entrepreneurs do the same thing.

By John Brubaker Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Every entrepreneur starts their business with dreams of becoming big and rich. This column is about what you can learn from a different kind of Big & Rich, as in the country music duo. On Thursday night I attended their concert in my hometown of Lewiston, Maine.

What I got wasn't just a concert, it was an experience filled with some great lessons for entrepreneurs. The questions I'm about to ask you are the same questions I asked myself about my brand as I reflected on my experience at the concert.

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Their performance actually began the night before the concert. When Big Kenny and John Rich arrived in Maine, their first stop was at a popular club in town where they unexpectedly showed up and bought the entire bar a double round of Crown Royal shots. Not simply a nice gesture, but also built-in guerilla marketing that's congruent with their brand. This move was straight out of the lyrics from their song "Save a Horse."

I buy the bar a double round of Crown and everybody's getting down.

They don't just sing about it, they do it. Their generosity reinforced their brand message, won them some new fans and got people on social media talking about the upcoming show.

As an entrepreneur, you're also in the marketing business first and then you're performing your job. Is your marketing creating a buzz in a way that reinforces exactly what your brand is about? What is something unconventional and thought-provoking you can do to harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing?

The week before their Maine show I went online and watched Big & Rich perform at Comerica Theatre in Phoenix live via Yahoo Screen. Suffice it to say, Comerica was a significantly larger venue with a much bigger audience, which clearly made it a bigger (and richer) payday for the duo.

But what we got was every bit as much of a performance. They brought the same level of energy and quality to their performance in small town Maine as they did in big city Phoenix. What a great lesson for entrepreneurs. We should be putting forth as much energy and effort into every interaction, big or small.

Today more than ever before, customers have an almost insatiable appetite for quality and service. Do you treat your smaller clients with the same level of service excellence as your key accounts? If not, someone else will.

I've attended hundreds of country concerts. Name the artist and I've probably seen them, twice. On Thursday I learned you don't just attend a Big & Rich concert, you experience Big & Rich. They take audience engagement to a whole new level in three ways:

1. Personal connection

Between songs, they told jokes and shared personal stories about how they met, got their start and how Kenny's inspiration for writing the song "Last Dollar" was literally being down to his last dollar in Vegas in 2002. Through these conversations they made the audience laugh, cry and think.

Sharing personal stories can help you connect with your audience too. Do your clients know why you do what you do or how you got started and some of your stumbling blocks? It will ratchet up the respect and admiration they have for your brand.

Related: How Music Affects Your Productivity

2. Sharing the spotlight

The duo literally shared the spotlight with everyone, taking turns complimenting each other and their band members, and frequently shining the spotlight on the crowd to sing along. At one point, they asked everyone in the audience who served in the military to rise for a standing ovation, then handed the mic to a U.S. Navy veteran in the front row and asked him to speak about his service.

They didn't just paint the picture -- they painted the audience into the picture and let us help paint the picture that night. Your job is incredibly similar to theirs in that regard. Want to be a more compelling communicator? Share the spotlight by painting your prospects into the picture, then let them help paint the picture.

3. Details amplify

Lots of performers play the guitar, but how many have it outlined with rhinestones so the guy in the worst seat in the house can see it sparkle just as well as the girl in the front row? There are lots of distractions at a concert. The lights dancing off the rhinestones on the guitars keeps you focused on the artists.

How do you keep your clients' attention? How many artists use their guitars as cue cards to elicit a desired response from their audience? The only ones I've ever seen do it were on Thursday night. The duo used guitars with different messages in big letters on the blank space on the back of it. Instructions such as "Scream" and "Louder." When they wanted the audience to scream louder they flipped over their guitars and held them up. Why? Because energy is contagious. They took something that was already going on and amplified it.

Energy is contagious in your business too. How do you accentuate your audience's response? Details of any customer experience impact the emotional connection people have with your brand. The back of your business card, your apparel and your company vehicle are great blank spaces you can use to amplify your message and shine brighter.

The biggest lesson was gained from one simple question. They don't ask you if you're having a great time, they ask if you're having a "Big & Rich time." A Big & Rich time is a one-of-a-kind experience. It's a feeling.

You're not selling a product or service, you're selling an experience. That's your competitive advantage. Anyone can copy your product, but they can't duplicate the value in the unique experience only you can provide. What experience does your brand provide? Compare your answer to that question to how your fans would actually describe it.

Instead of thinking of what you do as a job, think of it as a performance. Your business is just like performing music. It's about connecting with your audience of customers and employees. Each of our performances leaves a mark on our respective markets. Is it strong or weak? Positive or negative?

Like great musicians, great entrepreneurs leave a powerful, positive mark on their market.

Related: Sell Like a (Literal) Rock Star With These 5 Takeaways

John Brubaker

Performance Consultant, Speaker & Award-Winning Author

John Brubaker is a nationally renowned performance consultant, speaker and award-winning author. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, Coach Bru helps organizations and individuals turn their potential into performance.

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