cashWho is your favorite marketer?

Seth Godin? Gary Vaynerchuk? David Meerman Scott?

Yeah, these guys are pretty awesome – but I prefer to look somewhere much more entertaining when I seek marketing inspiration.

In fact, most people wouldn’t associate my favorite marketer with the marketing industry at all.

My favorite marketer is the late, great, country singer (although I prefer to think of him as more rock & roll), Johnny Cash.

I was fortunate to catch Johnny Cash live in concert several times.

While I’ve seen hundreds (if not thousands) of live acts, very few of them have had the effect that Johnny Cash had on me. Yes, I’ve been moved and excited by the likes of Black Sabbath, Elvis Costello and Metallica. Equally, I’ve been let down by Bob Dylan, less than impressed by The Red Hot Chili Peppers and bored out of my skull by Bjork (perhaps I caught these class acts on the wrong day). Johnny Cash’s live outings live in my memory like I just walked out of the concert hall. His music (always better in the live environment) seemed to permeate my inner being.

In concert, Cash had the ability to fill the air with electricity. In my opinion his album At San Quentin remains one of the best live albums of all time. I remember at the Albert Hall, his music literally gave me goose bumps from the opening bass line of I Walk The Line through to the now legendary American recordings with Rick Rubin (who prior to his work with Cash was more famous for his collaborations with The Beastie Boys and Slayer).

One of the main reasons why I liked Cash so much was his ability to tell a great story (both in his songs and in the media).

Cash’s stories were nothing but authentic. Whether he was singing about the plight of the US prison population, the Native American people or poverty stricken agricultural workers (cotton pickers), or perhaps singing more upbeat gospel tunes from his youth, you could believe every single word he said.

I was completely sold by Johnny Cash’s stories and as such remain a fan (consuming his product) to this day.

As a marketer, I try and take influence from artists like Johnny Cash by always trying to be authentic in the messages (stories) I share. Like Cash, I always try and stand by my principals and as such could never sell a product or service I do not believe in.

Will my marketing efforts ever give my audience’s goose bumps? Well, I’m not so sure about that – but that is the gold standard I am aiming for.

Who is your marketing inspiration? Share your comments below.