THE BLOG
09/04/2013 09:39 pm ET Updated Nov 04, 2013

Miley Cyrus, Marketer Extraordinaire? 5 Marketing Lessons From Her Infamous VMA Performance

Just days after Miley Cyrus' controversial VMA performance, the pop star's newest single, "Wrecking Ball" -- which debuted the day of the VMAs -- had been purchased and downloaded 90,000 times. The song debuted at No. 13 on Billboard"s Top Digital Songs chart.

Coincidence? Definitely not.

Miley's stunt worked -- and it worked big time. Since her infamous twerking-filled performance, Miley has been everywhere. Taking over TV screens, radio waves and blogs, the former Disney star is the topic du jour across the nation.

Despite any negative commentary you've heard around the water-cooler or on the news ("It was so inappropriate!"; "She must be on drugs!"; "I can't believe our culture has come to this!"). Cyrus is now more popular than ever. Her products are flying off the digital shelves.

Regardless of your personal feelings about her performance, it's difficult to argue with the fact that Miley Cyrus pulled off the greatest marketing triumph the entertainment industry has seen in quite a while. And we can all learn from what she's done.

Here are five marketing lessons to take away from Miley's VMA performance:

1. Be strategic: Most companies are not particularly strategic about the content and timing of marketing campaigns. But Miley teaches us that content and timing is everything! She debuted her track, "Wrecking Ball," on the very same day she performed at the VMAs. Do you think that was a coincidence? Of course not. And was it a mistake that she then used her VMA performance to shock the crowd by gyrating, twerking, and dancing up on Robin Thicke? No way. That performance was carefully crafted and rehearsed over and over again. There was nothing unintentional about it at all. The result has been exactly what she wanted: more sales. Your marketing campaigns should be just as strategic and intentional.

2. Be distinct: Most VMA performers are totally unmemorable (with a few exceptions, like Lady Gaga, Madonna and Britney Spears). That being the case, Cyrus knew she had to do something that was so different and so provocative that her performance would actually be memorable. She accomplished just that. A Harvard marketing professor of mine once explained that there are three types of marketing: great marketing, terrible marketing, and everything else in between. You want to always avoid being "everything else in between." Make your marketing strategy stand out from the competition! Learn exactly what your competitors are doing and be completely distinct from everything they're doing. Don't be afraid to be outrageous!

3. Market to your audience -- and nobody else: Most of the people who are making negative comments about Cyrus' performance are over the age of 40. Do you think Miley Cyrus was planning to sell a lot of albums to people over the age of 40? No way. Cyrus knows exactly who her audience is, and she geared her VMA performance only towards them. Everyone else is irrelevant because they aren't going to buy her album anyways! Most companies want to please everyone with their marketing. This will accomplish nothing. Make sure your marketing is targeted to appeal only to your ideal customer.

4. Don't take yourself too seriously: I have to say, I thought Miley's performance was pretty weird. It actually made me uncomfortable watching her do that strange thing with her tongue and dance like a maniac. But she didn't care. Her goal was to connect with her target audience. She did that by being outrageous, silly and playful. Your marketing should do the same. Using rigid, boring language in your marketing campaigns isn't going to help you connect with anyone. Make your marketing voice fun and light -- you can still convey professionalism. Ultimately, you're marketing to people. People connect more effectively with messages that are fun than with messages that are rigid and serious.

5. Create fans by fueling haters: Commentators on both the right and left lambasted Cyrus. Mika Brzezinski from MSNBC's Morning Joe called Cyrus "clearly sick," while the conservative blogosphere labeled Cyrus "the devil incarnate." The irony is that the negative animosity toward Miley only serves to further entrench Cyrus' fans. Most companies are afraid to turn some people off, but many of the best marketers are willing to turn some folks off in order to create an army of hard-core fans.

At the end of the day, Cyrus came out on top with massive sales. Do you have the guts to create the same experience for your business? (You don't have to twerk if you don't want to.)

What marketing lessons did you draw from Miley Cyrus' VMA performance? Please share below in the comments.