Business Lessons From AC/DC


Some of you may be familiar with the rock & roll band AC/DC. They’ve been around since the mid-70s and show no signs of stopping. The other day I was on a short run and AC/DC came on my internet radio station and I marveled at just how long they have been able to do what they do in the manner they have been able to do it.

The thing is there are many rock & roll bands that have stood the test of time; mostly because they have changed and evolved over the years – but that’s not what amazes me about this particular group. The fact is AC/DC has managed to stay relevant without changing ANYTHING. If you listen to any song by this group you’ll notice that they are all pretty much the same. I once heard their songs described as “three chords and the truth.” Nothing too fancy, nothing too clever, just good old guitar rock with screeching vocals laid over the top.

AC/DC has never changed their success formula, never written a love song, never recorded a ballad, never went disco, techno, emo or anymo!

No, this band found something that worked, that connected with their audience and rather than force-feed their fans something they didn’t want, they just kept giving it to them year after year, album after album. While they were never really loved by music critics, they have managed to sell over 200 million records. They must be doing something right.

So how does this relate to your business? Well, think about it. Who is your core audience? What is it that you provide them that they just love? Are you still providing that to them or are you too busy chasing the next big thing? Have you gotten so far away from what you do best that you have become unrecognizable? Do you remember the “New Coke” experiment? How’d that work out? Or ask JCPenny how the JCP experiment worked out for them just this past year?

Look, all companies have to grow and evolve to meet the demands of the business world, but I see so many trying to be “all things to all people” and that just never seems to work out too well in the long run. Those companies that find an audience and keep that audience happy with something they love, well it seems that those are the ones that stand the test of time. Sorry Britney, sorry Bieber, somehow I don’t think you will be filling up arenas and shakin’ people all night long 30 years from today.

Ask yourself this week:

  • How are we serving our core customer?
  • How have we been delivering on what they want?
  • What areas are we focusing too much attention on that just don’t seem to make sense for our business?
  • Where do we need to make course corrections this week to align ourselves with the mission and values of the organization?

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