What Zappos and an Obscure Indie Band Have in Common

What business tips can you learn from an obscure indie rock band from Baltimore? And what might they have in common with Zappos, the powerhouse online shoe store?

I just returned from a weekend at Bonnaroo, a massive (90,000) indie/folk music festival on 650 acres of farmland in Tennessee. While there were some big names such as Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews Band, and Jay-Z, no performer surprised and impressed me as much as the Dan Deacon Ensemble.

It wasn’t that their music was so amazing – it was good. However, their live performance and creative way of engaging the audience was mind-blowing.

For example, imagine a concert tent packed with hundreds of people dancing.

In the middle of their set, the frontman (Dan Deacon) stops to command the crowd to form a circle and bend down on one knee.

Difficult to say the least, but possible. A man named Jeff then stood in the centre of the circle, and we were told that Jeff was going to be performing interpretive dance, with the crowd imitating every motion.

Watch the video to see what happened:
(Disclaimer: some strong language)

The result was the most participatory audience I have ever seen at a show. Most rock concerts involve a lot of watching, some head-nodding, and probably some dancing – but fans don’t expect the spotlight to be turned on them. As a result, everyone that’s since asked me who my favorite band was at Bonnaroo got the same answer – a long-winded rave about Dan Deacon.

So the takeaway is this: Provide an AMAZING, SURPRISING, and ENGAGING experience for your customers, and they will evangelize about you until the cows come home.

Not sure how to do this? Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, has a few creative ideas, stemming from their values.

Start getting creative! Don’t worry about ruffling a few feathers, just focus on providing the most spectacular experience possible for the audience that matters to you: your customers. Good luck!