Are you marketing yourself or just advertising?
What do you think of when you consider the ‘marketing’ that you do for your band/act? All too often, people respond by listing things like posting about shows, posting about their merch, or the various methods they use to tell people about their music. There’s a common thread in all of those — they’re a one-way conversation.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as “the management process for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”, while Kotler, Armstrong, Saunders & Wong (2001) define it as “a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with others”.
Notice the difference here. Marketing is much more about ascertaining what your audience wants and positioning yourself to be able to profitably fill that want, rather than just blindly trying to convince them that you’re what they’re looking for. Unless Derren Brown is your bassist, that can sometimes be a fruitless exercise.
Now, I’m aware that the above paragraph may ring alarm bells with some, particularly those responding with the usual “I make music for me, screw everyone else’s expectations”, and that’s fine. You should make music for you. I’m not suggesting that the above is a reason that you should limit your songs to three and a half minutes, follow a set structure, stick to 120bpm (which the majority of hits are around, apparently), and be about love gone wrong, but there are other activities that you can apply these concepts to.
I’m not going to give an exhaustive list, as that’s for you to figure out for yourself. But let’s look at a couple of examples. Firstly, merchandising. Take a step back and consider it this way. Which is more likely to be profitable for you?
1. Buying 50 t-shirts, 50 hoodies, 50 snapbacks, 50 vests and 50 tote bags, then selling them on your site and at your shows, or
2. Exploring which items tend to sell most as band merch, via asking some other bands or maybe asking your audience what they’d be most likely to buy via a twitter poll, then buying stock levels appropriately and selling those
You’re more likely to have a decent return on investment (ROI) if you’re not buying stock that is less likely to sell out.
Another example can follow on from a previous post – using Google Analytics on your website to ascertain certain details about your audience. This can range from knowing when is best to post an update, to finding out the age demographics and locations, which can, in turn, inform your decisions about where to book shows or tours. If you’re really getting into positioning, you can think about where certain age groups are most likely to find out about new music and ensure you get your music in those places.
The two-way process of marketing doesn’t necessarily mean selling out your sound to make a quick buck. Your artistic integrity should always remain intact, but it can be very beneficial to consider methods that can get your point across in ways people want to hear. Have fun!