While most bands are clear about what they'd like to achieve (getting more fans to their shows, selling more records and merch, and even getting signed to a label), some have a difficult time with strategizing how to get there. While there's not one correct way to market your band, there are certainly a few core strategies you need to succeed. These include the "4 Ps" of marketing (product, price, place, and promotion) as well as three other important building blocks (band branding, product branding, and measuring). Let's take a closer look at each one and see how you can start using them right now.
1. Band branding
This is the process of creating a unique name, logo, and slogan for your brand, and then stamping these elements on everything you do and have (e.g., your drummer's bass drumheads, concert backdrops, guitar cases, and more). The idea is to create a positive and powerful perception of your band in the minds of the fans that is easily recognizable and very memorable.
2. Product branding
This involves creating album and song titles, packaging and set designs, and an overall personality that fits cohesively with your band's brand. In other words, the identity of your band and the identity of your products should all make one cohesive statement.
3. Product development
This is the process of preparing your products for the marketplace by deciding whether to produce vinyl or USB flash drives, packaging your products together in a collector's gift box, remixing one of your songs in another style, and so much more. The idea is to satisfy your target fans while creating a number of new revenue streams for your band.
This involves making decisions about what to charge your fans for your albums, T-shirts, live performances, patches, and buttons. Considering your costs, knowing what's reasonable to charge, and thinking about the image you want to project are all par for the course. Make no mistake – even when giving away your products for free, you must always let people know what they're worth so that you can create the perception of value in your brand.
5. Placement (or place)
This is the process of distributing your products/services to places where your target fans are most likely to find and buy them, such as on specific websites, at a variety of live performance venues, at certain retail stores, on TV shows, on video games, and more. Finding the right distributors, agents, publishers, and direct-to-fan methods are paramount. Fortunately, given digital technology and the internet, there are so many choices.
This involves letting your fans know that you exist and why they should care about you. While many bands use only the internet to promote (social networking, building websites, and uploading videos, etc.), it's also important to create a mix of "offline" strategies (getting played on college radio stations, seeking reviews in local magazines, networking at key events and charities, and so much more) to adequately cover the marketplace.
Finally, this is the process of analyzing whether your marketing strategies are working. This could involve setting up Google Analytics on your website to determine how many times people visit each page of your site, or simply asking your fans how they heard about you when they email you or come to your live performances. By continuing to use the strategies that are working and getting rid of the strategies that are failing, a band can save a significant amount of time and money.
Just in case it hasn’t yet sunk in: it's not the individual marketing strategies (the parts) themselves that will help you to achieve your marketing goals, but, rather, the complete "mix" of all of the strategies (the whole) functioning together as a unified marketing campaign. All of the strategies should be considered in varying amounts until you find what works best for you.
For more information on music career strategy planning, please be sure to check out my book, Music Marketing For The DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack on a Low Budget.
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