Taylor Guitars brings more music into the world with Airtable
The team designed a system that streamlines communication and breaks down information silos; this more connected workflow enables them to focus more time on bringing music to new audiences.
The moment you step foot into the Taylor Guitars headquarters in El Cajon, California, it becomes abundantly clear that this isn’t your average office space. Legends like Taylor Swift have walked these halls, and music can be overheard as easily as the water cooler chat. “We have guitars on the walls, so if you're having a tough day you can just pick one up, jam out and reset,” Nicole Dahl says.
Nicole is a marketing project manager for Taylor Guitars, and she started playing guitar when she was around eight years old. At Taylor, music is more than a mission, it's the universal language of this employee-owned company. “Music is a huge connector,” Nicole says. And the music lovers at Taylor Guitars are always looking for ways to better connect their teams, data and workflows.
Taylor is the leading global builder of acoustic guitars, with distribution in more than 60 countries. They’re constantly iterating on custom designs and new models for the more than 175,000 guitars Taylor produces each year. Some are custom made for individual artists like Jason Mraz and Zac Brown, others are electric, but the bread and butter has always been acoustic. Each guitar Taylor designs is an opportunity to create a new way for someone to experience music.
As a marketing project manager, Nicole is responsible for keeping the marketing team on track, managing timelines for product launches and marketing campaigns. That means sending reminders, tracking production timelines, and gathering updates from cross-functional partners outside of marketing. When she first joined, Taylor used several different project management tools, and she spent most of her time trying to find information about projects and informing people about their responsibilities. “There wasn’t one source of truth,” she said.
Matt Steele had a similar experience when he joined Taylor. “There wasn't a core content calendar, and we wanted to establish more cross-functional visibility,” Matt said. Although he was managing Taylor’s social media presence, he lacked the system to orchestrate a content strategy for day-to-day posts and upcoming product releases. “We didn’t have a tool to help guide or inform strategy and planning,” Matt said.
This sometimes led to siloed work and made some processes clunky, adding friction in the collaboration process. Matt had used Airtable at a previous company and knew that it was the answer “for breaking down silos and connecting teams,” he said.
“Airtable connected the whole marketing department in a way that wasn’t possible before.”
Now, the marketing team uses Airtable to connect tasks to bigger-picture goals. “We have an interface that tracks how many posts we've done on each individual model of guitar. We can visualize everything we've done for every single product, and that's immensely powerful,” Matt said. Now, instead of creating and circulating a series of documents to track each launch, the system Taylor built in Airtable “leveled up our launches and keeps me from recreating the wheel every time,” Nicole said.
This product launch workflow also includes hundreds of automations that significantly reduce the number of emails being sent. If someone has a question about an upcoming launch, Nicole can tag them in the base and they can self-serve. She also creates custom views for each team so they’re only seeing what’s relevant to them.
“Airtable is instant information. It prevents things from falling through the cracks."
The marketing team has also streamlined requests with Airtable forms. For example, if someone wants a flier made, they fill out a form and the information automatically populates the marketing team’s base. The requester will receive an automation to let them know it’s been assigned, and when it’s complete, another automation sends them a link to the finished product. This eliminates emails and gives everyone visibility of ownership.
“Airtable saves us four to five hours a week that we would otherwise spend tracking things down that lived in different places."
For Nicole, this time back means more time to think strategically about product launches. “We get to spend more time on the creative output. We’re putting out better work because we have more time to do it,” she said.
Matt says engagement on Taylor’s social platforms is perhaps the strongest the company has ever seen. “We want Taylor to be a place where any musician can come in and find our content valuable. Airtable is helping us achieve our mission of bringing more music into the world and connecting people through music.”