Marketing Mistakes 101- Chapter 1

The One-hit Wonder

You know ’em, you love ’em, but you don’t remember them: artists who had one hit and went away forever. That’s because marketing, like comedy, when it’s effective, comes in threes. Whether the product is an album, a concert ticket, or a booking, one “impression” does not a sale make.  Sure, once in a while you do get caught by a single event that is so extraordinary that you are moved to action, but that is a rare exception, and we’re trying to get consistent results.

Three impressions in a short amount of time. Why three? How long is a “short amount” of time? To tell the truth, I don’t know why, why, why, it just is, as Van Morrison says (Using 3 whys…). OK, four is better, forty even better, just don’t put all your chips on ONE or TWO. As for the time period for the impressions, the quicker the better, as the “spin” speed is higher.

The three factors are number of impressions, strength of impressions sort of divided by time- they all affect the results. Think of the market like a constantly moving river, and you are pouring food coloring in and trying to effect a noticeable change that lasts as long as possible. How do you plan your dispersion of your finite elixir?

Don’t pour it in all at once, in one spot: Do not blow it all on a full page ad in the NY Times expecting to sell an album or a show unless you’ve also got a gig in town and at least one other event, say a live radio performance, a feature in the Village Voice, maybe a mention in another musician interview, or a killer social network (I should say AND rather than OR, as it goes without saying).  Then you play the numbers game. X number of people see the ad, some fraction runs across you through a second event, a fraction of that set that has that important third impression, and BAM, they are moved to action.

So if your ad comes out a week before the gig, you have that week to hit as many folks as possible as many times as possible, and IF the impressions are strong enough you will move some product, sell some tickets, etc. Keep with the math: more, stronger, impressions = more bodies. The time element is another variable- the length of the  mark’s memory is dependent on the strength of the impression; you can make fleeting impressions if they are close together, but don’t expect folks to remember a drive-by sighting/hearing  very long.

Three-hit Strategy

Ah, for the good old days, when radio found good music and played it over and over! Forget it, that’s so 20th-century!  You’ve got to get to people in other ways, sneak in the door and tap them on the shoulder. (That would make an impression…).  Figuratively, of course.

Let’s plan for a hypothetical gig, a medium-sized club in a college town, and plan a budget marketing campaign. It’s got to be quick and easy as well as cheap, as you are planning on doing it in every town. Here are some ideas (please comment with yours, below):

  • Press release
  • Poster
  • Print ad
  • Radio play
  • Radio interview/appearance
  • Online social networking
  • e-mail blast

Of these, you should get the most mileage out of the aural mediums, but they are the hardest to get and are fleeting at best. Print ads and posters get eyeballs, but you know what they say, a song is worth a thousand pictures. If you’ve played the joint or town before and collected e-mail/facebook contacts, and use them effectively, that can carry a corner in your working marketing plan.

Whatever you do, don’t blow it all on any one area, like the social networking, and think that it’s going to bring out the hoards.  The best marketing strategies are “cross-marketing” plans, meaning that you hit them from different angles.  Don’t put ads in three local rags for your three-bagger, better to have one ad, one email blast, one radio event.

This is obviously just a start, we’ll be diving into more sophisticated strategies, trying to help you get the most warm bodies to your next gig.

Coming in Chapter 2- Your Website, love it or leave it…

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