Business Lessons - Gangnam Style

Cherryl Hanson-Simpson

Thursday, November 08, 2012

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Unless you have been living as a hermit for the past three months, you would have seen or at least heard of the music video Gangnam Style by South Korean artiste PSY. In a short time, this Internet phenomenon has captivated the hearts, minds and dance floors of millions of people around the world.

I got my first look at the catchy dance moves while watching the ICC World Twenty20 cricket competition a few weeks ago. West Indian batsman Chris Gayle revealed snippets of the Gangnam Style during matches against Ireland and England, and then led the entire team in a spontaneous rendition as they celebrated their tournament win.

Intrigued about the origins of the dance, I checked online for more information, and was immediately captivated by the catchy tune found on YouTube. According to Wikipedia, Gangnam Style refers to a lifestyle associated with the Gangnam district in the capital city, Seoul, "where people are trendy, hip and exude a certain supposed class".

What one dance can do

With over 640 million hits to date, PSY's offering is currently the second most popular upload, and has been lauded by a South Korean minister for playing an important role in introducing their culture to the rest of the world. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has even declared that the song's feel-good nature can be viewed as a "force for world peace".

To be honest, I don't think people (unless they are already dance stars) look cool doing the Gangnam. In fact, Jamaicans have created many dancehall moves over the years that are more visually appealing than Gangnam Style. Lyrically, the song is weak; and overall, the video's message lacks substance. Despite all of this, I still can't get enough of its infectious rhythm!

Love it or loathe it, Gangnam Style has left an indelible mark all around the world. What is it about this childish horse-trot dance, which the artiste admitted was developed after testing various "cheesy" animal moves, that has brought instant fascination, fame and fortune? What lessons can we gain from PSY's breakthrough effort that can help us to reap business success?

People just want to have fun

Economic hardship is a recurring decimal in most countries of the world, and persons are shell-shocked by their daily financial challenges. With the global issues of war, violence, crime and natural disasters, people are simply tired of the continued diet of bad news. PSY's hit makes us forget our problems for a while, as we smile with each other and dance together.

Sometimes business owners take themselves and their offerings a little too seriously. Lighten up your marketing message by presenting a happy face to the world; if you make your customers feel good, they will return. This strategy can work even in more formal industries such as medicine or finance — think of how the amusing gecko ads boosted GEICO's public appeal.

Viral infections can bring healthy profits

After receiving 500,000 views on the first day of release, Gangnam Style became viral in record time. Thanks to the influence of the Internet, album sales and profits are soaring; even the share price of the company owned by the artiste's father has doubled. PSY is reportedly now being scouted by the agency responsible for another Internet megastar, Justin Bieber.

While you try to avoid a virus for health reasons, when it comes to business you should seek to infect the world with your offerings. The magic of the Internet is open to anyone with a message, so take advantage of this inexpensive method of advertising your business. Even if you don't achieve Gangnam Style notoriety, the viral possibilities can help to increase your profits.

One hit may be all you need

Only time will reveal the sustainability of the Gangnam phenomenon; the artiste may join the long list of one-hit wonders and has-beens of the music world. In the meantime, PSY may be able to capitalise on the visibility that he is currently receiving to advance his career. At the very least, he should be able to earn enough from this effort to create a healthy nest egg for the future.

Many entrepreneurs dream of owning a business that can sustain profits for decades. However, in this fast-changing 21st century, there are persons who start enterprises strictly for short-term gain. Given the fickleness of today's consumer, you could look to exploit current trends and earn as much as possible, before reinventing yourself with an entirely new product or service.

Achieving phenomenal returns from your business efforts is not guaranteed. Today's well-loved enterprise could be tomorrow's pariah given a different set of circumstances or events. However, if you are enthusiastic about your offerings and broadcast them to the world with Gangnam Style energy, I believe that you will develop a business that's both fun and financially rewarding.

Cherryl is a money coach, business mentor and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services. Her upcoming book, "The 3 Ms of Money", will reveal all the secrets she learned about financial success. Read more on money and business matters at and E-mail comments to




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