7 Things Every Business Can Learn from Burning Man

7 Things Every Business Can Learn from Burning Man

Burning Man is an amazing phenomenon. It’s the kind of event that you have to witness to understand. It’s Disneyland for adults. A mix of Moulin Rouge and Mad Max. It’s incredible and inspiring. It’s crazy. It’s a wild dream. And in the chaos of it all, there is clarity. And there’s sense. Organization. Amazing logistics to make it all happen. In this post, I’ll start a discussion about what every business can learn from Burning Man. Let me know what you think. What else can every person learn? What did you learn that you want to share?

1. Community – it takes a community to make Burning Man special. From its inception in Stinson Beach, it took creativity, imagination and pushing the norm to create, continue and grow this event. It took different organizations getting involved. Various volunteers helping out and donating their time. It took passion and devotion.Individuality and cohesion. Synergy.  Can your business say it has loyal followers who would devote hours to making this event happen? In the world of social media, community is vital to the survival of any business. Burning Man has managed to create a vibrant community with loyal followers. Just take a look at their Facebook page. Can you say that your business Facebook page gets so many posts and involvement from your customers?

Photo credit: Flickr - Tristan Savatier

Photo credit: Flickr - Tristan Savatier

2. Creativity – There is amazing imagination and creativity in this event. From organization and annual themes (this year the theme was “Evolution”, next year is “Metropolis”) to the amazing art that people dream up and build in the Nevada desert, from clothes and costumes to theme camps, creativity abounds. Burning Man gathers people from all disciplines and professions who love, breathe and live art. It offers plenty of wide open spaces where the craziest contraptions can be built only for one week of enjoyment. Creativity keeps this event vibrant and people return for more each year. Participation is key. Individuality can be seen in every person. As a business, remember that one size does not fit all. People want to be different. They want to stand out and be themselves.

Burning Man 2009

Burning Man 2009

Burning Man 2009

Burning Man 2009

3. Passion – people have passion for this event. They talk all year about it and get ready for it. They stand by online when ticket sales first open to be the first to grab tickets and confirm their participation. They shop for clothes, accessories and supplies for Burning Man. They talk to their friends about it. Post photos and videos online. Share content. Spread the word. Meet other “burners” and feel immediate connection with them.

Happy Burners

Happy Burners

4. Loyalty – I met people at Burning Man who have been going to it for 16+ years. Every year, the week before Labor Day, they pack their camps, food, water and drinks and any art cars or art they’ve dreamed up and head out to the middle of nowhere – Gerlach, Nevada to be in the cruel, harsh desert for a week where it’s incredibly hot during the day and cold at night. And they love doing it, year after year, because they have loyalty to Burning Man. They volunteer to do things for this community all for the same goal. How many businesses in real life can claim the same loyalty from their customers.

Nightly ceremony to light the streets

Nightly ceremony to light the streets

5. Word-of Mouth – I’m starting to repeat myself but burners love to share their experience – offline and online. There are 471,792 photos on Flickr for “Burning Man”. They have 47,576 Facebook Fans. There are millions of conversation happening on Twitter, in blogs, on websites and forums. Word-of-mouth will make or brake a business. Have you been able to embrace, create and share word-of-mouth yet for your business?

Burning Man 2009 353

6. Self survival and self sufficiency – Burning Man prepares you and teaches you to be self reliant. You are completely on your own (unless you have very good neighbors) when it comes to your survival. You need to bring all your water, food, gasoline, shelter, clothes. The only things you can purchase at Black Rock City are ice and coffee. On top of everything, the event is a Leave No Trace event. Pack it in and pack it out. And when everyone leaves, there is nothing left at the Playa but dust. As a business, these values should be incorporated in your business plan. People should protect our only planet. Eco – awareness and working together as a community to create a city in a week can be a valuable skill. Just take a look at what happened with Katrina. Surviving in harsh environment is a necessary skill for every person and for every business that is feeling the recession.

Burning Man 2009 080

7. Communication – Burning Man does a really good job at preparing everyone for the event. From their website and newsletter to handing out brochures at the gate containing all the information you need, it really makes things easier for newcomers as well as old time burners. The logisitcs for this event are absolutely amazing and the event seems to go without a glitch. The volunteer rangers help control the peace and everyone seems to get along fine. That’s 48,000 people living together peacefully for a week!

Burning Man 2009 237

And finally, direct from Larry Harvey, the organizer of Burning Man an interview on 5 things cities can learn from Black Rock City.

Let me know what you want to add to this list. There are many lessons every business and every person can take away from this amazing event. What do you think? Let’s create a list of what every business can learn from Burning Man.

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About Milena Regos

Marketer, Consultant and Creator of the Simple Marketing Blueprint online marketing course for busy professionals.

Comments 5

  1. Kathleen Stebbins

      |   reply

    Content is the one and onlhy key. If you don’t provide content (in the case of Burning Man, art and sundry related activities), you will never create or maintain a viable audience. All the marketing expertise in the world can’t make up for a product devoid of compelling content. And if you HAVE compelling content, often the marketing takes care of itself.

    • Milena Regos

        |   reply

      Thank you Kathleen. Content is King! I wish more companies understand this very important aspect. If you have a bad product and poor service you won’t survive. Excellent point. Thank you for making the post more complete!

  2. Zach Lyon

      |   reply

    I think you pretty much nailed it, I might add…

    * Entertainment
    )'( is undoubtedly this, touching on your Disneyland for adults topic. A business should entertain and engage their consumers to keep them coming back for more. Touching 1, 4, and 5.

    * Inspiration
    )'( has inspired me to be more creative, more imaginative and to question the norm. To know that the way things have been done are not necessarily the way things should be done. Touches 2 and 3.

    * Perseverance
    )'( has certainly gone through growing pains. I’m sure more than one BLM meeting left the organizers with headaches and threatened the availability of the venue, yet they were determined and have succeeded. Touches 6 and 7.

    * Evolution
    )'( theme this year. These days more than ever one must roll with the punches. One of my favorite quotes: The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. – Isaac Asimov

    Z

    • Milena Regos

        |   reply

      Excellent points Zach! Thank you for your comment. A business can indeed learn so much from an event like Burning Man. I wish more businesses will take note and attempt to create their own magical word-of mouth experience.

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