What the "Walmart Yodeling Kid" Can Teach Us About Entrepreneurship
Every now and then, a talent comes along that is just so extraordinary; so very much the perfect conglomeration of creative genius and business acumen, that the world has no choice but to stand in awe.
We do our best to theorize and make sense of what was behind the meteoric ascension.
Last month, one such talent emerged, from the humblest of origins. That talent was Mason Ramsey. Otherwise known as the #WalmartYodelingKid.
“Wait. You mean the 11-year-old kid who went viral for yodeling in the middle of his local Walmart? What the heck can that kid teach me?”
If you put it that way, I can understand the hesitation. Hear me out.
What if we put it another way? For example, what if he was "the person who created a brand identity around his authentic passions and talented, trusted in that and took a creative leap by sharing that talent with the world, maneuvered himself into a massive corporate sponsorship, built a community of millions of fans (capped with appearances at Stagecoach and Coachella) and was smart enough to pivot his brand to better reach his core audience, resulting in a Spotify shattering hit single?"
Sound better? Creative entrepreneurs everywhere take note! It’s Mason Ramsey’s world and we’re just living in it. Whether you’re yodeling your way into America’s heart or running your own business, we all can take a page from the Yodel Kid playbook. Here’s how we can apply some of the seemingly random principals behind Mason’s rise to your own business!
Your authenticity has value
Listen, if 2018 America can find a way to fall in love with a kid yodeling in the middle of a Walmart, there is no reason why they can’t love whatever you're about.
It was a combination of randomness, quirkiness, and talent, sure, but the hardest part is putting yourself out there. I think it’s safe to say, Mason was probably not operating with a lot of hard data suggesting this was the sure path to viral fame. The most he could do is trust in himself and take a creative leap.
Rather than try to dial back his authenticity in a way that would appeal to the masses, he doubled down on it. If the world was going to fall in love with Mason Ramsey, they were going to do it because of the real Mason Ramsey. It was going to be on his terms.
What is the equivalent of “yodeling in the middle of Walmart while wearing a cowboy outfit” for you?
- Is it something about your background or journey?
- Is it a creative way you approach problems or communicate with your clients?
- Is it a stylistic choice that differentiates you from the other creatives in your field?
- Is it the creative way you structure your work/life balance?
Our authenticity doesn’t have to manifest in crazy musical acts. We just have to believe that our authenticity can be an asset to us. If a Walmart yodeler can convince America to give him a shot, you can too.
Action Tip: Embrace your "yodel". Figure out what is authentically you, and ask how that can be an asset to your business.
You need to take your creative leap
Once you are comfortable with who you are and how you can build a business around that, you have to actually do it. Mason could have played dress up and yodeled his heart out from the comfort from home, but that’s no platform for success. You need to trust in who you are enough to actually make the leap.
A kid, yodeling in the middle of Walmart sounds like a baffling way to introduce yourself, but you have to take into consideration multiple factors. For Mason, that Walmart, that costume, that song, all constituted some form of understanding of his environment. The video could have gone viral form any location, but considering the fact that Mason already had previous experience singing for events around his area, you can imagine he knows his crowd.
Confidence in your uniqueness as a business owner is effective, only if acted upon. Because if you don’t act on it, you’re a person who yodels at home in cowboy clothes, rather than one who yodels into the hearts of millions. One sounds a little less flattering than the other. That’s only because that person had the courage to put themselves out there. They flexed their creative leap muscle.
Action Tip: Find an audience for your yodeling. Make sure you know your crowd. If you haven't already done so, a client avatar can be a game changer for your business! We've got an easy guide on them, here.
Leverage the partnerships around you
You can be sure that Mason wasn’t the only one thrilled about his success. The #Walmartyodelingkid, as evident by the viral tag, will always be in some capacity linked to the massive retail chain.
Whether this was just an act of good fortune for both or the result of an elaborate scheme, we may never know. I'm not here to suggest some massive conspiracy, but I'm also not ruling it out.
What we do know, is that both sides have shown how to leverage the partnerships you have available to great success.
As an aspiring entertainer, I would imagine Mason has various role models in the music industry he would have loved to meet or work with. Similarly, I don’t think Fortune 500 companies go out seeking yodeling children as their first line of PR. However, this is what both sides had to work with and work they did.
Walmart sponsored and threw a full concert for Mason, intent on keeping #walmartyodelingkid alive for as long as possible. They even threw in a scholarship for young Mason.
The authenticity of all this aside, the partnership between Mason and Walmart looks like it happened completely organically. It might not be as obvious as in Mason's case, but the place to look for your most fruitful partnerships is where it's obvious.
- Can you leverage someone in your immediate radius that you haven't considered?
- Is there an opportunity to build local partnerships with businesses you wouldn't expect? (Yodeling + Walmart?)
- Can you support someone else's success in a way that will provide some other value to your brand?
Action Tip: Identify potential partnerships in your communities/locally that you have otherwise not considered. Go where your ideal customer is.
Dive into community
Arriving is one thing. Staying there is another. To stay, you have to be able to create buy-in with your story. You need to give people a reason to keep coming back, beyond the product itself. They need something to fill the time in between when you're releasing your genius into the world. The best way to do that is dive into the community.
Whether it’s on stage at Coachella and Stagecoach, or in entrepreneurial groups on Facebook, community is where you give yourself a foundation to continue growing. It's where you engage with people and fill the gaps. You expand your radius through community and people willing to support you.
Now commenting on a thread in a Facebook group is a little different than a guest appearance on Ellen but you have to do what you can with what you have. That’s the lesson here.
Community was basically the only way we got the word out on Dubsado. We didn't take out super expensive ads, sponsor major events or get huge celebrity endorsers. We figured out what our community looked like, what their community looks like and how to engage with them. If you haven't heard it put this way, listen up:
You HAVE to put effort into building community. It's not negotiable.
Do research on new communities you can invest in online/locally. Set a goal of daily engagement.
Understand when to evolve
Here’s the big one. The one that I would say almost all business owners struggle to truly get right. It’s having the awareness and ability to understand who you are, what is working, what isn’t, what can be and when to make a pivot.
Have you heard Mason’s first single? The one crashing Spotify’s servers left and right? It’s legitimately decent. A feel good, toe-tapping, summer drive song. Do you know how many times Mason “yodeled” on it?
No yodeling to be found anywhere. This, from THEE #WalmartYodelingKid. Whose claim to fame just a month earlier was entirely that: yodeling. How could his very first song be absent of the very thing that made him?
After understanding his authenticity, taking a leap, leveraging partnerships, and engaging with his community, Mason did the most difficult thing of all: he used all the information to make an informed, intelligent decision about what he is doing as a creative.
To those who would say he has forgotten his roots, or “sold out” I would say he is displaying a macro-view of entrepreneurship. Understanding our society’s tendency to forget quickly, and creating something that is still true to him, but with more staying power- how many of us would turn down the opportunity to pivot our business into something that would be career-defining?
"Famous", Mason's first single has now amassed over 9 million streams on Spotify. That's a pretty strong pivot.
It’s Mason’s world and we’re just living in it.
Do a performance assessment of the different aspects of your business or services/products you offer to make sure you know what is performing well. Research what different entrepreneurs in your field are pivoting to get some ideas of how you can evolve your own business to focus on your strength areas.
You've got the playbook. You've got the blueprint. Now it's up to you to dust off those cowboy boots and tune your guitar. When you do take that leap, Dubsado will be there to take care of all the other business stuff, so you can focus on letting the world, hear your song.
Start your free, no time limit trial of Dubsado, here.