Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger wouldn’t call himself a CRM strategist. But there are at least five principles any e-marketer can learn from him.

You may not have heard of Canadian rockers Nickelback. But you’ve probably heard their songs and wondered where you’ve heard them before.

The band from Alberta takes a specific approach to writing its music. An approach not always appreciated by other artists – one band he works with calls it applying “100% corporate efficiency to rock ’n’ roll” – but which has delivered a string of hits. Not to mention a $60 million fortune to frontman Chad Kroeger.

Now that’s good business. So here are five CRM lessons you can learn from Kroeger and apply to industries beyond the music business. Will they take long to read? Like all good rock songs, you’ll be done in just three and a half minutes.

#1: Play riffs people recognise

We’re not suggesting you should bring an electric guitar to client meetings. Kroeger freely admits his songwriting started with hard analysis – listening to thousands of songs that made it big in the charts, and teasing out precisely what combinations of notes and instruments made them memorable. Then he applied those learnings to his creative output.

(That’s why a number of Nickelback songs sound a bit like songs you know. He already knows what success looks like and uses it.)

Wondering what relevance that has to CRM? Modern CRM software is perfect for doing the same thing with your marketing programmes. If the same link appears four times in your email, which phrasing got all the clicks? Some newsletter layouts work better than others: find out which with an A/B split. Even the simple stuff, like a yellow versus a blue background can cause a difference in pull. These are “riffs” you can reuse to stick in people’s minds.

Use your data. In your past newsletters, emails and even telephone scripts, you’ll find sentences and approaches that work time after time.

Remember, a single percentage point in response uplift can double your sales leads without any increase in your campaign list. So to be a CRM rockstar, find the right riffs.

#2: Put in something for everyone

The band doesn’t slot itself into one genre. Many Nickelback songs were created specifically to cross rock, pop, metal and even country – with the express goal of appearing on more than one music chart.

In marketing terms, this doesn’t mean “go generic”. It means making offers targeted to different audiences in the same communication.

Today’s CRM tools let you mass-customise down to the level of a single customer, based on their past purchase behaviour or response patterns.

The best customer for an offer is a customer who’s taken you up on it before.

Understand your audience enough to make pitch-perfect offers and you’ll get higher responses because your customers have figured you out.

#3: Connect across media

Nickelback isn’t so much a band as a vertically-integrated supply chain. Music is one layer, producing other people’s music is another and other units control licensing. There’s even a team devoted to controlling costs at concerts, ensuring not just sales but margins stay high. Its entire production line is joined-up.

“There is a mathematical formula to why you got famous. It isn’t some magical thing that just started happening.” – Chad Kroeger.

The best CRM applications give you the tools to do the same. But few companies make use of them. Your email newsletter is an asset – make it work hard.

From your Twitter account to a YouTube channel or a LinkedIn update, make sure each piece of content creates cross-linking and sharing opportunities across all monetisable channels. In this way, you won’t just maximise response from your list – you’ll add new customers to it.

#4: Tie everything back to financials.

When it comes to money, Nickelback is all business. They never stop looking at the incremental revenue each action can generate – positive uplift? In short, the group sweats every asset to the max. Much of the language Kroeger uses in interviews would sound at home in a business school.

“When I’m Chad from Nickelback, then I have to wear one hat and I have to wear various others when I’m Chad Kroeger who is co-owner of 604 Records or someone who’s working on an independent project. At that point I want to know where the record is getting licensed, as well as absolutely every aspect of how we’re going to deliver a song to the public and how we’ll all get paid for doing so.” – Chad Kroeger.

You can do the same. With expert help, today’s CRM tools can show you a lot more than clickthroughs and page impressions from your marketing – they can show you where customers got to in the purchase funnel, estimate how likely they are to move forward and show you which actions to take to maximise revenues.

#5: Keep the fun going.

Kroeger swears a lot, catches women’s underwear thrown to him and chugs beers on stage. Right for your business? Probably not – but the principle holds: make sure you’re having fun. Even the band’s name is a joke – Kroeger’s first job was in Starbucks, where he had to say “here’s your nickel back” hundreds of times daily when giving change.

Companies that endure tend to have employees who genuinely like what they do. From Innocent Drinks to First Direct, you will find successful businesses whose people are full of passion and who pass that passion onto their customers.


Be in business for all the right reasons.

So that’s our last Kroegerism on CRM: whatever else you do, enjoy yourself.

  • When you send out a CRM communication, make sure your personality’s in there.
  • Treat your customers as living, breathing individuals, not names on a list.
  • Talk to them one-to-one.

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