As you all know by now we just lost a legend of the business world, in Jimmy Buffett.
In honor of his impact on me as an entrepreneur, I’m going to dedicate a few emails in the upcoming weeks about business and personal lessons learned through him as a musician and entrepreneur.
I had written previously about how Buffett was on my short (super short) list of people that I would like to meet. I was (am) never impressed by celebrity, but boy do I like people that can maximize an opportunity, or see the world differently. Jimmy Buffett was surely one of those people.
In seeing all the tributes and hearing the stories, there was one set of images that kept repeating over and over, and it was the legions of Parrot Heads. If you are not familiar, Parrot Heads, like Dead Heads, are the zealots. The ardent Buffett fans. The diehards. They are the ones at the concerts wearing elaborate costumes, crazy hats, shirts, shoes, and flip flops, and all assortments of other things “Margaritaville”.
But if you ever attended a Buffett show, which I have many times, it was more the rule than the exception. The MAJORITY of people were engaged with the brand at that level. Lawyers, Doctors, Soccer Moms, Entrepreneurs, Teachers, Chefs – and that was just MY GROUP OF FRIENDS!! All of them wearing the outfits, letting their hair down for just one night. Being outrageous was the norm not the exception.
You see, Jimmy Buffett sold an idea, an escape, a vacay every day fantasy way of life. The difference was in some ways he lived it while we just longed to live it. And for a night, or a weekend, or in the case of the lawyer and the chef in my group, the better part of an entire summer, we got to taste the freedom of that ideal.
Jimmy knew his customer as well as Steve Jobs knew the Apple customer. Unlike Apple, Buffett had such incredible brand loyalty we showed up to his “sale” dressed like lunatics. There may be lines at the Apple store for the new iPhone, but not many people are wearing an Apple hat on their head!
Lessons are everywhere in Margaritaville on how to deeply engage a customer.
By the way, I read this week that Buffett wrote Margaritaville at a diner in Austin, TX, hungover, watching a relationship evaporate in front of him and on his way back to Key West. Just as he got to the 7 Mile Bridge in Marathon, FL (minutes from my place there actually), he sat in traffic for an accident on the bridge and finished the song. The original hook in the song was “wastin’ away again in Austin, Texasville”. Fortunately even though it was breakfast, and they were hungover, Jimmy and his soon to be ex were drinking margaritas…serendipity I guess.
I doubt legions of fans would be as excited about escaping to Austin, Texasville!! Good call making that change Jimmy and thanks for those fleeting moments you transported me and a group of my lunatic friends to Changes in Latitudes, and Changes in Attitudes. Happy to have been a part of your brand.
Rest in Paradise…
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