It’s been more than three decades since the release of the first Weird Al Yankovic parody album, and in that time the satirist/all-around goofball has amassed a number of honors and achievements. He has been a consistent presence in pop music; has released a number of widely known music videos; has released his own movie, a flop at the time but a cult classic today. It has been said, on more occasions than one, that an artist knows he has made it when he becomes the subject of a Weird Al parody.
For all of this, it comes as a mild surprise that one of Weird Al’s greatest achievements of all came just last week: His new album, Mandatory Fun, became the #1 top-selling album in the country—not just Al’s first-ever #1 album, but the first comedy album to go #1 in more than 50 years.
So how did he pull off this latter-career coup? You may assume it to be a matter of timing, or of shifting demographics in the record-buying population, and there’s probably some truth to it. Here at the Grammar Chic offices, though, we can’t help but wonder if Al’s ascent has much more to do with his content marketing savvy than it does anything else.
When Weird Al Was Everywhere
In many ways, Al’s big first-week sales may not surprise you. He was everywhere the week Mandatory Fun released. He built his own buzz for the album by releasing a whopping eight music videos in as many days, highlighting the best songs on the album and making them available on the Web, all for free. As a tool for generating attention, it certainly worked: Not all of the eight videos hit the same level of viral acclaim, but a few of them truly were everywhere, including the star-studded “Tacky” video and the wonderfully witty “Word Crimes,” a grammatically-themed send-up that we couldn’t resist sharing on the Grammar Chic Facebook page.
This daily assault of videos obviously did the trick—and in doing so, revealed some crucial lessons about content marketing. The most obvious one is simply this: When you’re trying to build buzz on the Internet, you really can’t afford to take too many days off. Al was consistently active with high-grade content, every single day; he was showing up in social newsfeeds, on YouTube, even on late-night talk shows. He made his presence known, and it paid off.
Building Buzz for Your Brand
It’s not just that he was there, but he was there with great content—and free content, at that. If you’ve seen any of the videos—and again, “Tacky” and “Word Crimes” are probably the best two examples—you know that they’re really very well done, and a lot of fun. The videos also find the singer giving away new material and not asking anyone to pony up any money—proving the efficacy of providing free content to customers, clients, and the general public. Really, this is the cornerstone of content marketing; this very blog is an example—we hope!—of valuable content provided for free.
Weird Al went one step further, though, by creating his own event, announcing up front that he would be releasing a series of eight videos, thereby building huge anticipation and ensuring he had a captive audience for that week-plus. There’s plenty there for content marketers to learn from—about the importance of turning your content into an event, of creating your own hype and then delivering on it.
All told, Weird Al has surprised us all with his big album sales and his sudden ubiquity—but maybe it’s not such a surprise after all. Maybe it’s really just a matter of content marketing done right.
For those looking to do something similar for their brand, the Grammar Chic team can help. Contact us today: 803-831-7444.