Marketing is the complete process of innovating products and services to satisfy fans, build awareness, and make sales. This process involves a series of important building blocks including researching, goal setting, strategizing, and executing. While these concepts are covered in detail in my book, Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, I've broken them down into 10 important steps over a three-part series. What follows are steps one through three, from describing your vision to analyzing your customers. So, which steps are you forgetting when marketing your music?
1. Describe your band's vision and set your career on course
The first step in the marketing process involves identifying your "vision" and creating a vision statement – a declaration of where you'd like your career to be in seven to 10 years down the road. A vision statement summarizes what you're truly passionate about and includes everything from the type of music you'd like to create, the products you might release, and the overall brand image you might like to impart on your intended audience. With a clear vision statement, it's far easier to map out the directions for how you're going to get to your desired destination.
Long before Marilyn Manson hit the scene, he envisioned himself as being a pop star who would shock the world. According to one source in Ft. Lauderdale who knew him early on, Manson kept drawings of costumes and stage set designs along with other business and creative details in a personal notebook. This was Manson's "North Star," his guiding light. Several platinum albums later, he truly succeeded at bringing his vision to fruition.
As the saying goes, "If you don't stand for something, you can surely fall for everything." So what's guiding your music career? If you haven't thought about it before, now is a good time.
2. Identify opportunities or "needs" by conducting a SWOT analysis
While keeping your vision at heart, it's time to examine what's going on in the world around you to ensure that your vision actually fills a need and represents a true marketing opportunity. As previously stated, Marilyn Manson had a clear vision of being a pop star who shocked the world. But he also identified and filled a specific societal need and void in the marketplace for an entertaining and horrifically dramatic "new" stage personality, similar only to what a now aging Alice Cooper had done 23 years before. In other words, the marketplace was ripe for an artist like Marilyn Manson, and he capitalized on the opportunity unlike any other artist.
A valuable tool to help you examine the external (and internal) environments of the marketplace is called a SWOT analysis. SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The idea is to identify external needs and opportunities that match your internal strengths (skills, etc.), but while also considering your internal weaknesses (finances, etc.) and external risks (competition, etc.) that could impede your ability to succeed. While all this might sound like business school jargon, the most successful companies, both big and small, use the SWOT model. With a little training, so can you!
3. Analyze your most likely fans and target your market
Now that you have a more refined vision and clearer idea of the market need you'll attempt to fill, it's important to identify your "most likely" fans. These are people or businesses that share similar characteristics and are most likely to come out to your shows, buy your music, or license your songs. Rather than attempting to reach the world all at once with one sweeping marketing communication, the idea is to focus on your most likely fans (or "segmented tribes") so that you can tailor your marketing communications and get as close to a one-to-one basis as is reasonable. Make no mistake: the more personal the communication, the better the renumeration.
Singer Ani DeFranco targeted politically active college students, particularly those of the left wing, who believed in social change and equality for all. She wrote songs about homophobia, racism, and reproductive rights and attracted a following that propelled her to independent mega-success. DeFranco understood her audience and knew precisely how to communicate with them on a meaningful level. Now a Grammy winner and successful label owner, the rest is history.
Conduct fan research by examining the fans of other bands in your genre (or closely related genres), and by examining the fans you may already have. You can do this by visiting social media sites and reading what they say, by attending concerts and observing the audience, and just by speaking with fans. Don't worry if at first you have trouble identifying and segmenting you fans – you'll fine-tune and adjust as you gain more experience.
This series has finished! For the remaining seven steps, check out the next two parts:
You can also check out other articles about perfecting your marketing strategy:
- 10 Free (Or Insanely Cheap) Marketing Strategies Your Band Should Use
- The 7 Core Aspects of a Marketing Mix Every Band Needs
- If You Only Have $100 to Spend on Marketing Your Music, Here's What to Do
- How to Turn Your Fans Into Your Marketing Team
Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack on a Low Budget (September 2014). Find the book on Hal Leonard's website under "Trade Books" or on Amazon. Signed copies with a special offer are also available at bobbyborg.com.