A student recently approached me with a complaint that only six people showed up to his live performance. He sent out an email to 1,000 names, posted on a few social networks, and told his friends and family. Feeling like a "promotion loser" (his words), he was ready to call it quits. But after using some basic analytical tools, we quickly discovered that fewer than 10 people even opened his email. We rewrote his emails with catchier headlines, more benefits, and a specific call to action. For his next gig, not only did 628 people open his email, 66 people showed up and paid. That’s a pretty strong increase!
Make no mistake: Marketing is not about "doing things," it's about "doing the right things." This is the essence of marketing measurement and why it's so important to your career.
How to measure
Measuring is the process of creating systems to collect, analyze, and act on information that is relevant to the goals of your marketing plan. These systems can include anything from using web analytical tools (like the ones on Facebook and YouTube that tell you the geographic regions in which people are most interested in your music), counting your sales every night, thoroughly analyzing why you experienced an increase or decrease in revenue, or just asking people at your gigs, "How did you hear about us?" In the latter case, if no one responds with, "We saw your ad in the paper," then you better stop placing ads in that paper. It’s that simple!
What to measure
You can measure virtually anything you want. For instance, measuring your customers’ awareness of your brand, and whether you’re at the top of their minds when discussing a certain category (such as "local bands in LA" or "studios in Nashville") can be helpful in determining the success of your public relations strategies. Measuring your fans' attitudes about your products and services can easily help you determine their level of satisfaction with you and their likelihood to recommend you to friends and family. And paying attention and measuring how well your products and services perform in each of your distribution outlets can help you see where you’re generating the most sales and where you’re wasting the most time.
Why don't more people measure?
Despite the benefits of measuring, a surprising number of bands and other various companies neglect to develop a measuring strategy. They argue that measuring is too time consuming and that the overlap between different marketing activities makes it difficult to measure cause and effect.
While the above holds merit (measuring is not 100 percent accurate), keep in mind that we’re not looking to develop the most complex systems. The agenda is to develop an easy-to-execute measuring strategy to help you informally "keep score" and be more efficient. A laptop computer, Excel software, index cards, and some free online tools might be all you really need.
Final wordsWithout a strategy in place, you can easily flush thousands of marketing dollars down the drain. As John Wanamaker, a pioneering marketer and merchant, is noted for saying, "Half the money I spend on marketing is wasted – the problem is, I don’t know which half!" A well-thought-out and executed measuring strategy can help you to work smarter and faster (not harder), use your time and financial resources to their fullest potential, and learn what your target audience responds to. Simply put, if you can measure it, you can manage it.
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.