Talking to clients — the Nine Inch Nails way

I have one Nine Inch Nails song on my iPod. (And one of their songs sung by another.) I can’t say I am a fan of their music. However, I almost wish I could when I see how fan-focused the band (and their leader, Trent Reznor, in particular) are.

Bob Lefsetz is one of the most enthusiastic, astute and critical observers of the music industry. The Lefsetz Letter (available by e-mail, blog or podcast) is required reading for anyone with an interest in the business. Today Bob’s Letter took a good look at the way that Trent Reznor has grasped the power of the internet to change the way Nine Inch Nails works with the fans.The whole article is worth reading, but for me the following quote holds a message for more than the music industry:

Trent Reznor is Net-savvy. … Almost all of those in charge of the old edifice are not. You’ve got to know how to navigate, how to steal music online, you’ve got to know how the public thinks.

I know Trent does. Because when he e-mails me, it’s always about something on the cutting edge. He’s not referencing a tie-in with Verizon Wireless, he’s talking about the latest P2P site where his audience lives. And if you don’t live in the same world as your audience, you’re headed for marginalization, if not extinction.

This is a good benchmark for anyone who wants to communicate with their clients or customers (whether those are external or internal). Peter Drucker says successful businesses understand their customers, their needs and concerns, but this is more.

“Live in the same world as your audience.”

It’s a hard challenge, but as Trent Reznor has proved in his own market the rewards are potentially massive.