By any metric, rockers AC/DC have had a phenomenal career.

They sold tens of millions of albums and packed stadiums the world over for decades.

But their marketing efforts also provide us a warning.

You see, they probably worked too hard for their success.

Here’s what I mean. The band’s signature sound — chugging rhythm paired with screaming riffs — never changed.

The “product,” like a K-Cup Pod, was decidedly single use.

Outside of LOUD weekend parties, there weren’t many other purposes for the music.

The band’s marketing team never gave us one. They piggybacked on new mediums and merchandise, like console games and metal yoga (?), only after other bands made it safe to do so.

Without a raison d’être, it’s hard to reach a new audience.

Heck, it’s hard to keep an existing one!

The last thing you want to do is hammer customers and prospects with the exact same benefit over and over again.

You risk annoying them, yes.

More importantly, though, doing that will put you in a boxdrastically limiting your interaction.

“Acme widget? I use it whenever I have a corn on my fourth toe — about every 29 years!”

Instead, what you want to do is suggest new ways and reasons for using your product:

“Acme widget? It’s great for hangnails? OK, never knew that but I’ll try it next time I get one!”

Here are the questions to ask to identify untapped markets, encourage repeat business, and attract prospects for your single-use product:

For existing customers

  • Who else should be using the product? “I listen to AC/DC while running with my dog. I think other dog ‘runners’ would love it to!”
  • What else should the product be used for? “I use AC/DC for home security; the music plays automatically when I’m not home.”
  • When else should the product be used? “I use AC/DC during my morning commute, starting at 7:15. It “speeds” up traffic!”
  • Where else should the product be used? “I take AC/DC with me to work… it’s the perfect soundtrack for demolition jobs!”
  • Why else should the product be used? “I put on AC/DC when I’m feeling down… it lifts me out of funks!”
  • How else should the product be used? “I use AC/DC instead of coffee to power through housecleaning tasks like ironing and dusting the blinds!”

For prospects

  • Demographics: Who looks like an AC/DC fan but isn’t one (yet)?
  • Psychographics: Who thinks like an AC/DC fan but isn’t one (yet)?
  • Outliers: Who neither looks nor thinks like a typical AC/DC fan but could still become one?

Not all products can be everything for everyone, obviously.

That was the — admittedly — refreshing message about AC/DC. You knew what you were getting with them. No apologies.

The problem with the single-use, love-it-or-leave-it attitude is that sometimes, the prospect or customer says no without fully understanding your offer.

The choice — clear from your perspective — might be a little nuanced to them.

History is full of single-use products that expanded their usage, purpose, and audience (without changing), thanks to smart, strategic communication:

  • Duct tape: originally kept ammunition dry during WWII
  • Slinky: originally stabilized ship cargo
  • Listerine: originally cleaned floors

All that’s required to break out of the single-use bubble is an explanation, a demonstration, and proof.

Simple, powerful, and elusive… at least for AC/DC.

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