Oct 21, 2023 6 min read

Everything I Learned About Marketing, I Learned From AC/DC ... Without Realizing It

Great marketing is impossible to calculate from an ROI perspective because it’s constantly building and constantly growing. Unless you can look at the entire body of work, you’ll never get a true picture.
Everything I Learned About Marketing, I Learned From AC/DC ... Without Realizing It

You probably think marketing is hard. It’s always changing. The tools are always evolving. The needs of your ICP are a moving target.

And don’t get us marketers started when it comes to measuring our efforts, because we care about sales more than anyone. Mostly because that’s how we ultimately get judged. But along that route, we’ll get asked things like “how do we get more followers?”

(The real answer to that question is “what’s the value of a follower.”)

So how do we benchmark? How do we progress? How do we make an impact?

The answers happen over time, which sadly for marketers, is also really hard to measure. Think about this — people still talk about Orson Welles and the “War of the Worlds” prank. How do you measure the impact of that over time?

Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" (1942) as performed by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single worldwide, with estimated sales of over 50 million copies — according to Wikipedia.

Do you think the record rep who signed Irving Berlin to his recording contract had any idea? How about his boss?

But I digress …

So how do we do it? How do we think about it? What is our north star?

It’s Angus Young and AC/DC, yes the Australian hard rock band that’s sold more than 250 million records worldwide.

Do you think they, or anyone on their team, had any idea what the effect would be even ten years after they mounted that flatbed and filmed the video for “It’s a Long Way to the Top” in the streets of Melbourne, Australia?

 Cost of the video = $380

Sales of the album “TNT”, (which was relayed in Australia only) = 630,000

How do you even attribute return on investment with that?!??

And that’s my point … great marketing is impossible to calculate from an ROI perspective because it’s constantly building and constantly growing. Unless you can look at the entire body of work, you’ll never get a true picture.

So what’s the lesson here? How do we take AC/DC and officially make them our spirit animal?


AC/DC didn’t invent rock n roll, blues riffs, playing loud, singing about off color subjects or having absolutely ginormous stage effects. They just took great ideas from other artists and made them their own.

See what other businesses are doing, understand what works about it, and think about how you could make it your own.

…and it doesn’t have to be a business just like yours… case in point, you don’t have to do rock ‘n’ roll marketing to learn from AC/DC!

Do what I do, find brands that you think are doing good marketing, and follow them on the social media platform you check the most. That way you’ll be constantly bombarded with their marketing and will get a little bit of inspiration here and there.


You could take any 10 AC/DC songs from any point in their career, create a greatest hits album, and it would totally work.

While amongst themselves, all of their songs sound completely original from one another, but for sure, you know it’s an AC/DC riff when you hear it. They took what worked, and they just kept getting better and better and better.

But that only works when you do it at a regular pace. Find out the frequency of which you can create good marketing and stick with that.

Like they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That doesn’t mean you can’t improve or iterate, just means finding the right formula.


Did AC/DC play rock ‘n’ roll or did rock ‘n’ roll play that? Watch any live performance of Angus Young, especially in the early days and it’s not totally clear whether he has control of the guitar or it has control of him.

“I have no idea how you do it” - is the biggest compliment anybody ever paid me about my marketing. They didn’t know it was a compliment, but it most certainly is!

The greats make it look like they were born to do it. Put everything you’ve got into it and the needed result will be life-giving.

When you’re done working on something, look at it and go what did I like about this, didn’t like about this and what can I do better next time. Make a small note and go back to your notes.


Has Angus Young ever opened his eyes on stage? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. How the heck can he play that furiously and still be note perfect?

He’s put in his 10,000 hours.

Great marketing doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen on the spot. There is no magic button.

Don’t expect to master something on the first try. As long as you give your best, behind the scenes, and while everybody’s watching, you’ll always be improving.

As with anything, with lots of practice, you’ll develop incredible skills.

Good marketers can market more than one thing. If you are a Solopreneur, find something else to talk about that isn’t related to your business. If you're an employee, find something else to talk about that isn’t related to your job.

Get known for something else. What you’re really doing is practicing your marketing in a different arena.


Great marketers have a legacy. Any band that has ever picked up a guitar, drum and bass that plays an AC/DC song can tap into the band's energy. Their body of work is so good that anybody else who uses it wields its power.

Proof in point, Brian Johnson. AC/DC lost Bon Scott, the vocalist that put them on the map. They brought in another guy who made them even better while still showing respect for everything that happened before him. That’s legacy.

You didn’t invent the brand you work with? You can make it better.

It’s your brand? It can be made better by others.

Give the gift of good marketing.


Here’s a hack: if you create a good campaign, or come up with a good promotion, write down everything you did in a document so that you have a playbook for you to use again or for others to use after you. Leave a legacy.

This blog post was inspired by listening to “Whole Lotta Rosie” about 5 dozen times over the course of one summer. You’re reading it now and thinking it’s great.

I didn’t just come up with this “out of blue.” This is the culmination of a lot of time and energy presented in a way that facilitates understanding and learning.

PS. Marketing is easy, when you practice. This blog post was entirely written in the back of an Uber, and finished while sitting at a bar at the airport, on my phone. 😎🤘🎸

Now that you’ve read to the bottom, open up YouTube, start playing that song and reread this!

- Rev Ciancio

*I help restaurants to build guest marketing programs.
*I help hospitality tech companies with lead generation and content marketing.

Hit me up if you need help with your marketing: rev@brandedstrategic.net

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