Market Like a Rock Star: What Exhibitors Can Learn from Taylor Swift

A stage with colorful lights and the text: "Market Like a Rock Star: What Exhibitors Can Learn from Taylor Swift" plus the Trade Show Insights logo

Earlier this year, I attended a workshop on how to market like Taylor Swift, and let me tell you … there are a wealth of insights you can learn by studying this multi-award-winning, stadium-packing music legend.

Now it really doesn’t matter whether you know a single one of her songs (I’m only familiar with a few myself). We’re going to break down the strategies she uses to create raving fans who can’t wait for her next album debut – and how you can put each of these to use in your trade show marketing.

Lesson #1: Understand your buyer personas and speak their language.

She’s figured out what people desire or dream about and plays to that. She gives them a place to belong and makes each one feel like she’s speaking directly to them by using the words they use. That doesn’t mean talking down to them – in fact, just the opposite. That’s why you can find numerous “Is it Taylor Swift or Shakespeare?” quizzes online.

Do you know specifics about who you’re marketing to? Do you truly understand their challenges and aspirations? If not, it’s time to do some research to find out what will resonate with them. Pay attention to what your audience is talking about and fit your marketing into their conversation (instead of being focused on what your product or service does).

Lesson #2: Use story-based marketing to connect on an emotional level.

Every time Taylor releases an album (or as she calls them, Eras), she creates an entire story around it. Each Era has a distinct narrative, personality, and color theme, which acts as a framework for all of her marketing during that time.

Sticking with a theme or core message makes a lot of sense for trade show marketers as well. Once you’ve determined that, figuring out your display, pre-show promotions, giveaways, and everything else is so much easier! It also makes your marketing more memorable because it’s reinforced at every point of contact.

Lesson #3: Master the Art of Anticipation.

No artist does this better! From cryptic teasers and Easter eggs to quirky video clips (she once posted shorts of her using an old-style bingo cage to announce song titles), she knows how to keep the audience engaged with an element of mystery. Even the classic example of utilizing a wait list taps into the audience’s desire to be a part of something special – “we saved you a spot!”

So how can you add a bit of intrigue to your pre-show promotions? Experiment with creative messaging and even a few out-of-the-ordinary delivery methods or gamification to pique your audience’s curiosity and have them lining up at your booth!

Lesson #4: Make your audience part of the story.

Taylor recognizes her fans’ contributions. She rewards them for bringing others and spreading the word. For example, the first people to share in social media receive a custom badge they can display on their profile. She offers interactive experiences like augmented reality merchandise and user-generated content.

Make it a priority to have a two-way conversation with your audience. Invite their input, then evolve your marketing and your products to meet their ever-changing needs. Invest in building long-term relationships instead of quick sales.

Lesson #5: Reward loyalty with exclusive experiences.

Taylor’s been known to invite fans to Secret Sessions, which are basically pre-launch VIP parties for a select group of fans. These are considered a cherished honor to attend, and generate lots of buzz. She also makes limited-time or even one-of-a-kind merchandise available that includes bonus tracks or exclusive artwork. All of these are positioned as collector’s items.

So what if your in-booth experience was positioned as an exclusive VIP event, and your giveaway was viewed as a collector’s item? I’ve seen it done! Imagine people standing in line, waiting to get into a “secret area” within the booth, then walking away with a gift that they’ll keep (and likely display) for years to come. In addition to endearing loyal fans to your brand, you’ll likely be creating advocates who will spread the word to their followers as well.

Lesson #6: Surprise and delight your audience.

Taylor occasionally sends random gifts to fans or suddenly announces bonus songs (or even a double album). She’s even surprised a few fans with a personalized video greeting!

You can do this as well by giving gifts or sending notes when least expected (like for birthdays or career milestones). Add a personal touch whenever possible. Technology makes this easy in ways you might not realize – for example, you can record personalized videos using tools like SendSpark or Vidyard.

(Note: Some links on this page are affiliate links, which means if you click on them and choose to purchase I may receive a small commission or other compensation.)

Lesson #7: Collaborate with other brands or influencers.

For the launch of The Tortured Poets Department, Taylor partnered with Spotify to host a pop-up poetry library in Los Angeles. And sometimes the collaborating goes the other way – a variety of brands have created social media posts that tie into her album launches, from Oreos and Starbucks to the TSA and even the Goodyear Blimp!

Who can you partner with before or during the show? Are there other exhibitors you work with or who sell your products? And don’t forget the bloggers and podcasters in your industry. All of these potential collaborators (even the most unexpected ones) could help spread the word about your appearance at the show.


By following these rock star strategies, you can create memorable moments and foster a sense of community at your next trade show.

Remember: The biggest stars don’t fear change – they adapt and experiment! Your best Era is yet to come!

Want to create a “Taylored” plan for your next show? Reach out to me. We can set up a brainstorming session to discover the best ways to accomplish your trade show goals.

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© 2024 Marlys K. Arnold

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