I went to see U2 at Don Valley, Sheffield last night – what a brilliant performance! Bono and the boys put on a fantastic show for the 50,000 people who attended – a really magical evening. I know, you’re saying ‘Andy, I come on this blog for ideas about business, not to learn about what you do in your spare time – what’s that got to do with me?’ Without getting too pretentious, I do think there are so many lessons for business:
1. Stick to what you’re good at – U2 concentrate on being a brilliant rock and roll band – they’ve ‘toyed around’ with other styles of music in the past and lost direction for a few years. Now they are focussed on being ‘the best rock and roll band in the world’ and it shows.
2. Personalise it – In a world tour of this scale there’s a huge ‘machine’ needed to make it work. The whole event last night ‘felt’ personalised to Sheffield. Bono avoided the usual ‘scriptease’ and tailored his conversation to us – or at least it seemed that way to us, and that’s the important bit. In most businesses, there’s a lot of repetition, particularly when dealing with customers – it’s the ones that ‘personalise’ the experience that win out.
3. Use technology to enhance the experience – the stage show was amazing, but it supported and enhanced the music, rather than dominate it. The best businesses utilise technology to maximise the customer experience and use it accordingly.
4. Values – U2 are known for their political stances, and not everyone agrees with them I know, but that’s not the point. Their values are an integral part of what they are about and what they do and are included in the experience. Their support of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma was a special part of the concert.
5. Acknowledge Others – The public recognition of Tour Manager Willie Williams, a Sheffield lad in his home town on his birthday was great – so too was the addition of local group The Hours on the bill. Nice touches. Simple stuff, but the best businesses recognise individual contributions of their people whatever their role - not just the ‘stars’.
I could go on, but won’t. The final point for me is that U2 set out to be ‘the best’ and as a result they raise their ‘customers’ expectations. The challenge therefore is to deliver a ‘great experience’ - they managed to do that in Sheffield last night. From what I read and hear, that’s what they do every night – the mark of a successful organisation – consistency.