For those old enough to remember Jimmy Buffett, but are unfamiliar with him, most would probably think he’s a washed up musician from the 70s who should probably be making either the local festival concert circuit or appearances on reality TV shows. In reality, he’s going almost as strong as he ever has. He had big hits in the 70s including “Margaritaville” and “Come Monday”, which still get radio airplay. But at the age of 64 he shows no sign of slowing down.
His music is not for all tastes. It’s never been labeled accurately. Some call it country – and he has performed some true country music – but it’s more of a Caribbean sound with the steel drums and nautical themes. He is famous for songs about sitting on the beach and drinking Margaritas and other Caribbean drinks. He maintains a public persona of a free-wheeling barefoot beach bum.
Smart branding for career management
In reality, he’s a shrewd businessman who is a case study in personal branding and marketing. In addition to his music, which allows him still to fill outdoor concert venues all over the nation, he owns restaurant chains, a line of foods, and liquor and beer brands among his many entrepreneurial endeavors. He’s written three #1 best-selling books and is one of only eight authors to have reached No. 1 for both fiction and non-fiction.
It’s an irony that for an artist whose music hasn’t been precisely labeled, he’s so accomplished at personal branding. If you know his music at all, you immediately think of sunny beaches and flip-flops. So how does he do it?
A special passion
First and foremost, he has a passion for what he does. If you ever watch him on the stage, he’s having as much fun as anyone in the amphitheater. That gives him the energy and stamina to do the grueling concert tours and continue turning out new products branded around his songs.
Know your market to target your brand
Secondly, he knows his market. He knows as well as anyone that his music is similar to black licorice in that some people (known as “Parrotheads”) really love it while others despise it. He also knows that he’ll never be mistaken for Jimi Hendrix or Bono. But there is a large market that buys his music, visits his restaurants and purchases the high-end products with his name on them. He’s found his niche and serves it well. It serves him well too. With an estimated worth of about $400 million, he may not be worth as much as the more famous Warren Buffett (no relation), but he’s doing pretty well for himself.
So how are you addressing your market? Do you have a passion for what you do? Have you identified your market niche and served it well? When people hear your name, is there something they immediately think of? Buffett has proven to us that you don’t have to be Lady Gaga or Bon Jovi to develop and serve a significant niche market.
I took off for a weekend last month Just to try and recall the whole year All of the faces and all of the places Wonderin’ where they all disappeared I didn’t ponder the question too long I was hungry and went out for a bite Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum And we wound up drinkin’ all night
– Jimmy Buffet, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
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As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.