Better Marketing in One Easy Step: Shooting for a BullseyeBy
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
You’ve just spent countless hours revamping your website, following and chatting with fans on social media, and sending a hundred—or was it two hundred—emails to add more bookings and press to your schedule. Your eyes are red and itchy, your fingers are beginning to cramp, and when you look away from your screen you can hardly see straight. It’s time to stop for the night.
And what do you have to show for all that hard work? A few new followers, some extra likes, three automated e-mail responses from people who are on vacation… but no real results.
This is a dismal story, but it’s one I hear too often. Musicians, working hard to market themselves, are not getting any real return from that work. It helps to know what marketing is.
What Exactly Is Marketing?
Marketing is a term that gets tossed around often but can be hard to grasp, especially for musicians. Merriam-Webster says that marketing is “the act or process of selling or purchasing,” and “the technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.”
To put it simply: Marketing is the work and the strategy of selling something.
All businesses use marketing in some form or another. TV commercials, junk emails, a tweet, and a flyer tucked under a windshield wiper are simple examples of what marketing looks like on the surface. But there’s more to marketing than the public message. Behind those advertisements are people measuring the effectiveness of the ads. They are tracking views, shares, and traffic and pinpointing exactly which ads and strategies are increasing sales. Then, they take that information and use it to create more sales.
So with these definitions and examples in mind, have you actually been marketing? Or just keeping yourself busy?
There are many different ways to market yourself, and everyone has an opinion on what works best. But it all boils down to this:
Good marketing means tangible results.
I could stand in a forest for a thousand hours, paint myself green, and glue sticks to my arms, but it will never make me a tree. It’s the same story for musicians and all the hard work they put into marketing. If you aren’t getting results, you aren’t actually marketing.
But what exactly are results? To measure results, we have to have goals. To have relevant goals, we need to know what our customers need and want. To fulfill those needs, we need to have products.
As a musician, you probably think you have an idea about what your product is: your music. The songs you create and record are your signature product. Your music is what people are going to remember you for and what they are going to purchase from you. However, the music that people consume in various forms—physical CDs, digital downloads, live performances, etc.—is merely one facet of what you are actually attempting to market.
Music isn’t your only product. It isn’t even your best product. You are your best product! As an independent musician, you aren’t just selling CDs or tickets to shows. You are selling the brand you’ve created around yourself and your music and the entertainment that brand offers to your customers.
While there are countless other products you can offer, it all comes back to you as an entertainer. If no one wants you and the brand you’ve built, they won’t want your music and events and merch.
So if you are your product/service, who is your customer?
Many musicians make the mistake of limiting their customer base to people who listen to their music. In reality, it’s much broader. Anyone who buys anything from you or pays you for a service is your customer. This means that listeners are your customers, but so are venues, record labels, publishers, licensing companies, concert-goers, and so on.
With each new type of customer, you have the opportunity to create a marketing plan that will effectively reach them. Creating a marketing strategy around a known customer tends to result in more effective marketing.
So we know what you are selling, and we know whom you are selling it to. Now you have to set goals to get those sales.
Though income may be your ultimate goal, there are also different goals you can set that, while they don’t lead to an instant payoff, can add up to income over time. This type of goal could be fan interaction, like signing a certain number of people up for a mailing list, or getting a new video shared. It could also be a networking goal (meeting someone from a certain music blog) or a creative goal (writing a set amount of new material by a deadline). Your goal could be something as simple as the number of CDs you want to sell at your next show, or it could be landing an important gig. These goals involve you actively doing something to generate more income.