As an independent singer/songwriter, it's a lot of work to get people to hear my music. I've done interviews on local radio, and I have a blog, Facebook, and YouTube, but these have only gone so far for me. Do you have any ideas as to how I can better promote my music?
“Deck the Halls/Joy to the World” from my holiday CD: http://loismahalia.bandcamp.com/track/deck-the-halls-joy-to-the-world-2
My website: www.loismahalia.com
My Facebook page: www.facebook.com/loismahaliamusic
First, congrats on surpassing the one million mark on one of your songs on YouTube! That’s a big accomplishment! Likewise for working with greats like Joe Walsh, Kenny Loggins, and others! Great work!
Regarding your request, of course we can come up with some ideas for you!
In this post, we’re going to offer some thoughts on how to effectively direct marketing communications, whether you’re a singer/songwriter, new business, or established organization.
Before You Start
Before you start promoting your business, here are a couple things you should consider:
1. Who is responsible for marketing communications?
The first step should be to determine who is responsible for marketing communications. For a sole-proprietor with no employees, this responsibility may fall directly on your shoulders. That, or you may want to look for additional help—be it a consultant or freelancer, or by hiring an employee.
As for a company with any amount of employees, you (the owner) may still want to take care of marketing communications yourself if it is seen as appropriate. Alternatively, you may wish to assign the responsibility to one of your employees.
In any case, assigning responsibility over promotional activities should not be taken lightly—it is, after all, your communication with prospective customers and it directly affects your company’s revenue.
2. How much time should be spent on marketing communications?
Your second step should be to determine how much time will be spent on marketing communications. If you’re a sole-proprietor working alone, this might be tough; sole-proprietors only have so many hours in any given day or week, so it’s difficult to find time for everything. But again, since marketing communications affect your bottom line—both in cost and return—the right amount of time needs to be put aside for such activities. Altogether, this means that promoting your business shouldn’t get in the way of actually providing your service or producing and selling your products, but it needs to fit in somewhere.
So, it would be wise—for efficiency and consistency’s sake—that you put aside specific times of the day/week to devote to promoting your business, just as you should do for strategizing, accounting, and the like. And if you feel that you don’t have enough time or your time could be better utilized elsewhere, you should go back to step #1 and consider alternative methods to get the work done (like by hiring or contracting-out).
As for companies with employees, the concept is the same: You should still set out a specific amount of time to devote to marketing communications. This way, the person assigned to the task doesn’t spend more time than deemed necessary (which obviously costs your company money).
3. What have you already done that works? What are competitors or other businesses doing well?
After you know who is responsible and how much time will be devoted to marketing communications, you should examine what promotional activities work—be them internal or external. So, assuming that you’ve been measuring the effectiveness of your different types of marketing communications, this may mean using one approach more frequently because it’s brought in the most money. Similarly, if you’ve seen competitors doing something very well, consider using similar techniques to promote your product or service.
Marketing Communications Options
The following are some marketing communications options to consider (in no specific order):
1. Take advantage of your present contacts
- Tell your friends and family about your business.
- Ask your friends, family, and past clients to refer you people who could use your business’ products/services. Alternatively, you can be more proactive by asking them for the prospective customer’s contact information—of course, keeping privacy and anti-spam legislation in mind.
- Keep in touch with present contacts to promote repeat business—see what they’re up to and don’t be shy to ask them if you can do anything else for them!
2. Consider supporting business activities
- Making a complimentary, part-time business might be worth considering—for Lois, maybe consider offering singing lessons.
- Hold your own for-profit events, and preferably ones where you can make money—for Lois, host an art show/sale for local artists and provide the entertainment.
- Organize a fundraising event for a related local, national, or international charity.
- Join and attend professional groups related to your business.
- Get involved in community activities—for Lois, consider helping with local music shows.
- Be a sponsor for a team or group, or a local event.
- Join and attend networking groups.
- Attend local events—for Lois, consider attending museum events, art shows, plays, etc.
- Talk to anyone and everyone—be it at church, the gym, the grocery store, a gas station…anywhere!
- Participate in local, national, and maybe even international competitions to show off your skills.
3. Consider different or more specific customer targeting; go where the money is
- If the market you’re currently in is saturated, consider specializing or targeting a more specific customer base—for Lois, if you can speak another language, there might be more business potential in targeting customers who speak that language. Likewise, maybe you can target South American immigrants in the United States, either using their native tongue, English, or both—whatever they prefer!
- Basically, go where the most money is!
4. Consider different or more specific geographic targeting; again, go where the money is
- If your local market is saturated, maybe a different state or country could provide better potential—for Lois, certain states might be more interested in your music than others, and likewise, maybe Canadians, Australians, the British might like your music more. Actually, other countries might like your music even if it isn’t in their native tongue. Altogether, do your research and find the best market.
- As it was mentioned above, go where the money is!
5. Promote locally
- Whenever you can, try to get yourself in the local newspaper, on local radio, or on local TV—for example, try to arrange interviews, be a guest speaker, and send out press releases.
- Consider mutually beneficial partnerships with related local businesses.
6. Maintain a strong online presence
- If you find a website that benefits your business and doesn’t require much maintenance, make an account on the site—for example, the online Yellow Pages and other directories are often free and rarely require regular maintenance.
- Only participate in social media if that’s where your customers are and if you can put in sufficient time and effort. Consider one of the main ones—Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Google+.
- Consider blogging if it suits your business, but only if you have enough ideas to be able to write on a regular basis.
- Have a clean and well-polished website that’s easy to navigate. And make sure you maintain it so there are no technical errors.
- With web browsing becoming more mobile, you should try to make your website mobile friendly as soon as possible.
7. Other ideas
- Don’t forget e-mail marketing, direct mail, and cold-calling as options.
- Consider writing a newsletter to keep your customers up to date on what’s new with your business.
- If you have something interesting to write about, consider writing a book (e-book, paper version, or both).
- Hold contests or have giveaways to draw attention.
- Post ads in online classifieds.
- Post ads on websites (i.e. banner ads) or in search engines.
- Make a useful mobile app that relates to your business.
8. Ideas specifically for Lois
- Don’t be shy to submit your music to national and even international radio stations. Because we’re not in the entertainment industry, we don’t know if this would work, but it’s a thought.
- Consider browsing online radio stations—they may be more open to playing independent artists’ music.
- Try to get some publicity in music magazines or on music news websites.
Pieces of Advice
- Make sure you know your customer—where they are, what they want, and how they want to be communicated with. If things aren’t going well, you need to either change your marketing communications or target a different or more specific market group (or potentially all of these). And don’t forget: Customer service is key!
- Measure, measure, measure—always measure the effectiveness of all of your activities and strive to improve upon past results.
- If you’re going to participate in social media or blogging, make sure that you’re present. Too many businesses open accounts and don’t maintain them—this doesn’t help your image. In our opinion, it’s better to do one or two things really well than to do five very poorly.
Hopefully all of this helps! If you think we’ve missed any important points on the subject, let us know!
Just us! :)
Links to More Information
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