What Your Business Can Learn from Iron Maiden

By ​Nathan Richter

January 8, 2014

iron maiden

I recently ran across an article about how the heavy metal band Iron Maiden used ‘big data’ to grow their business… err, support its fanbase. It’s a great parallel: Your company is made up of people who you want to become fans of your products or services, and you need to understand them in order to develop experiences and offerings that work for them.

Too often, companies have rigid ideas on what they think they understand about their customers. It is a one-size-fits-all mentality: what works for me should work for you and also for them, but this thinking ultimately will cost you fans and conversions.

Iron Maiden realized what was perceived by the broader industry as a lost cause―piracy in music―was actually a fantastic roadmap to where there was more opportunity. The band took the data and looked at spikes in fan clusters geographically (hmm, couldn’t you look at similar information?) and then went a step further to cross-reference download data for those same regions.

The conclusion? A lot of fans in Central America and South America were connected socially, downloading a lot of (most likely pirated) music. So what did Iron Maiden do? Send in the lawyers? Turn a cold shoulder to the region? No, the band scheduled more concerts in that area, with a high point being a sold out show in São Paulo, Brazil that earned roughly $1.5 million.

Iron Maiden analyzed data and saw an incremental opportunity to delight their fans. By coming up with a regional game plan, the band came away with two distinct wins: revenue from a sold out show and dramatic growth in social connections from the region to nurture further opportunity.

You can learn a lot from Iron Maiden. Access to this data was a huge component, but more importantly it was taking the time to develop a winning game plan for the band’s fans… its customers.

You have enough data to find soft spots in your own business. It could be geographically or category based. It’s important to develop a plan for those specific audiences and rethink an experience for them.

For instance, retailers can provide faster fulfillment timelines because customers are close to an operations center, while a travel supplier can offer extra flights and perks to a traveler near a major hub. Financial services have regional offers and community events.

These are all basic opportunities that you have to delight your customers with the right experiences that work for them.

You may not be an Iron Maiden fan, but you should love their approach to finding answers for their fans. Take another look at how you’re helping your fans win with your brand.

Update: It turns out that the original Rolling Stone article we linked to was a little lax on its facts. So while this was a pretty good lesson in not believing everything you read, we still think this post is a cool way to show how you can use data to delight your customers with the right experiences.

Nathan Richter advises top enterprise clients including Best Buy, QVC, Sports Authority, and PETCO on website optimization. A veteran of digital marketing and online retailing, Richter has extensive hands-on experience helping enterprise clients implement successful multichannel marketing campaigns. Richter has directed online marketing and site optimization programs for David’s Bridal, QVC, The Franklin Mint, and dELiA's.

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