Popular Boy band One Direction (1D) has has been hitting the charts hard since their 2010 XFactor third place finish. They have been consistently topping charts and are set to dominate next month at the 2014 Brit awards. Whatever they are doing, they seem to be doing right. Just the other day, I found my 2 year old daughter pointing them out to me by name; ‘Look Dad, It’s One Direction’! Then yesterday to my amazement, she sang along with ‘What makes you Beautiful’ – more like hummed along with mumbled words – She’s just two ­čśë . ┬áSo I asked myself, how does this happen? How does a Princess Sofia, Doc McStuffins loving little girl suddenly know so much about this boy band, so much so that cartoons seem to take a back seat nowadays.

It got me thinking about marketing and what a wonderful job Simon Cowell’s team at Syco Records must be doing resulting in sold out shows, award nominee lists, chart toppers, A-list collaborations and product ranges. Could this be a billion dollar group, following in the footsteps of Irish Rock band U2? So what can we learn from their success and how can we apply it to our own ventures. I’ll attempt to summarise what I’ve observed, some obvious and some not:

  1. You need a talent (obvious). Something that you can showcase or something you can share to a larger audience. ┬áSomething that people want in their life but not all can achieve. e.g. most of us are tone deaf, not all of us can write well, most of us can’t… you get the picture. It doesn’t necessarily mean a personal talent. You could have a product, a service, something you can offer to a larger audience. People want to be entertained and generally trying to entertain yourself just ain’t much fun and sometimes too much work.
  2. Sometimes you need a face. People need to be able to identify with you and your product. It exploits our nature of being social and emotional creatures. It’s the reason why you want to slow down on the highway when there is an accident on the oncoming lane. It’s because we tend to seek out emotional events in our lives.
  3. Publicity. With all the talent in the world, if your material did not get in front of an audience, no one will ever know what you have to offer and you will sell exactly $0.00. It’s the reason why Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple and Microsoft are doing so well. They advertise! Apple spends about a billion dollars a year on advertising alone. Now not all of us have such deep pockets but remember that Apple started in someones garage and built their way up slowly. So start small and get your product out there.
  4. Luck aka. chance. If you ever take a look at the kind of content that goes viral, it’s not always good material. It’s the kind of material that you would easily ignore if you saw it on any given day. Some crazy sat in front of their pc one day and asked themselves ‘How can I annoy someone today’… And there you have it. Viral!!
  5. A quality team to back you up. The days of doing it by yourself are gone.
  6. Sex sells. Possibly a contributing factor to the success of 1D but they are quite talented too I must add. They are not the usual lip synching crazies out there. One would argue that it is one of the better effects of a show like XFactor, Got Talent & Idol. Generally speaking the contestants are actually good singers but it helps to have a pretty face. Is it fair or the right thing to teach our kids…? The answer is NO. But unfortunately marketing pro’s recognise and exploit the fact that a pretty face sells.
  7. ┬áMore Luck. You need to be in the right place at the right time. Not all great singers that try out for shows like XFactor and Idol make it through. I’ve been audience to a few auditions and what happens way behind the stage is that the producers select people who will make better TV. Coincidentally some people with good talent and touching stories get through in the process.
  8. Philanthropy. You don’t have to give millions to give back. You can build a better public image by showing that you care. Put aside the Game Theory approach to business and support a few good deed organisations or causes. 1D tends to do so but there has been a questionable charity requests that have not been fulfilled, but I can imagine that if they made every wish come true, they would be broke in no time. So the lesson to learn here is to be charitable, but also be wise and don’t over do it.
  9. Timing. Make sure you get your product out at the right time. If you are selling a christmas album, don’t release it in Easter.
  10. Don’t rush and be business minded. ┬áTake a lesson from Samuel Brannan. When he found out about gold being discovered in California in the late 19th Century, as a publisher/journalist, he did not immediately go and print an article to sell more copies of his newspaper. Instead he bought all the mining equipment for a thousand miles, then with some gold in hand and a store between San Francisco and the Gold fields, he ran through the streets advertising that Gold had been found. Now these events are rare but it’s the lesson more than the event that we need to learn from as entrepreneurs. With that in mind, how does it relate to 1D. Well, take a walk through your supermarket or local toy store. You are bound to find 1D merchandise. They are not only selling albums and records, they are selling everything from pencils and teacups to shirts, satchels and any other merchandise they can stick their name or picture on.

Now I know I’ve jumped back and fourth between business tips for different industries. It’s quite difficult to generalise across the whole market but I would hope that these tips help point you in the right direction.┬áI could go on and on, but perhaps that would be for another article. All in all, they are a great band, my daughter loves them. My wallet not so much. But I like their music too. So hey, well done boys and keep up the good work.


I would love to hear about why you think One Direction is doing as well as they Or if you have any business tips for successful marketing

Stick a comment below to let us know.


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