Execution is the art of getting things done. It involves adopting the right policies to help you close the gap between what you want to achieve and what you deliver. But many musicians fail to execute, and as a result, they never get to that next level of their careers. They create master plans to rule the world, but they fall short of seeing these plans through effectively. What a waste of time! As Ralph S. Larsen, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, said, "The best thought-out plans in the world are worthless if you can't pull them off." Here are five music marketing execution tips that can help get the results that you want.
1. Utilize reminder marketing techniques and multiple mediums
Many artists send out one marketing communication before their show (e.g., an email two or three weeks before), and expect their fans to remember to show up. The result: they experience poorly attended shows, which means unhappy promoters and missed opportunities. Look, you'll get nowhere by believing that you're at the top of your fans' minds 24/7. To be successful, you must send out several notices spaced out evenly over two to three weeks before your gigs or releases, and use a variety of mediums (postcards, phone calls, face-to-face selling techniques, etc.) to get the job done right!
2. Be persistent (and nice) when you follow up
It takes a lot more than just one email to that blogger to review your music, or to that talent buyer to get a gig. Sometimes it even takes calling back at a specific date and time as requested by a certain contact. Tenacity and patience, in this regard, are extremely important! After sending off your initial correspondence (e-mail, tweet, or whatever), follow up in a week if the intended receiver hasn't replied. Repeat this technique or attempt to use another means of communication (phone, letter, etc.) if necessary. Keep notes of your attempts in an Excel spreadsheet. And remember to always be nice in your correspondences. The world owes you nothing.
3. Delegate the workload
Many independent artists complain that pursuing a career in music is an overly daunting task, so they focus on looking for a manager to help. But remember that managers get paid a percentage of the money you make, and the last time I studied math, 20 percent of zero is zero (meaning that there is very little incentive for an experienced manager to come aboard). Thus, a group must first learn how to delegate responsibilities across all band members. The drummer can be in charge of booking. The bass player might do all the social media. And the guitarist can be the one who seeks out music placements. If you're a solo artist and don’t have other members to depend on, then you can enlist your superfans, those passionate fans who are willing to kill for you (everyone has at least one). To be successful, you need to treat your music career as if it were a company with several departments, all working towards a common goal.
4. Measure your marketing
Many artists repeat the same promotional strategies without clearly knowing what is and isn't working. In other words, they have no systems in place to determine whether the social media ads they've placed or the flyers they've handed out are getting results. A simple question like, "How did you hear about us?" when communicating with fans can provide valuable data that could save you a great deal of time and money. Using services like Google Analytics (to track the number of hits you get on your website) can also provide useful information about your marketing effectiveness. Just remember that working hard is not enough. You must work smart by constantly measuring and adjusting your marketing strategies.
5. Draft short-term goals
While it's important to envision your future success, many artists fail to focus on smaller, more digestible one-year goals. As a result, they get overwhelmed, wander aimlessly, and sometimes even quit. So don't just focus on being the next Dr Dre. Instead, focus on the first logical step on the way to being the next Dr. Dre (i.e., writing your own six-song record, releasing it, and building your email list to 5,000 new fans). Then, in the next year, you can focus on recording a second album, playing performances before an average of 500 fans, and producing two new clients. Eventually, with some luck, talent, and planning, you'll reach your ultimate vision.
Just remember this famous question: How do you eat an elephant? The answer: One bite at a time!
Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack On A Limited 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.