You Have To Know Who Your Customers Aren’t: Lessons From Fender Guitar


If you know anything at all about guitars, you know the name Fender. The iconic instrument maker has been around for seventy years. They’re a well-respected, legacy brand.

Fender is a well-respected, legacy brand that’s doing everything it can to attract and retain their customers. The way guitars used to be sold – by and to people who’d spend hours at a time hanging out in guitar stores, with casual instruction and performances being par for the course – just doesn’t happen the same way anymore. Fender’s leadership was worried that the brand wasn’t connecting with the next generation of musicians. In a really interesting AdWeek article Fender discusses the range of digital tools they’re using in hopes of bridging the gap. In addition to new website content, Fender has launched an app and Fender Academy, which is designed to train existing retailers about the brand.

There are many different tools being used, but they all have one trait in common. Instead of focusing on the customer base they already have convinced of their appeal – professional musicians – Fender is looking for people who may know absolutely nothing about playing a guitar at all. Emphasizing how easy it is to get started, along with an acknowledgement that guitar playing is a fun and sexy endeavor, are key components of a content messaging strategy focused on accessability: in other words, convincing people who aren’t musicians that they could be musicians with the right guitar.

We often say smart marketing is knowing who your customer is, but this is one instance where it pays to know who your customer isn’t. Fender has long positioned itself as the guitar for people playing at the very top levels – the true rock and roll virtuosos. It will be interesting to see how shifting messaging to emphasize the appeal to people at the beginning of their musical careers will pan out. If the quality of content remains both high and relevant, we think the results will be music to Fender’s ears!

Smart marketing may be knowing who your customer is, but this is one instance where it pays to know who your customer isn’t.

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