In a previous post, I stated that the key to a successful marketing campaign is to engage, seduce, and remind. I’m evolving that statement a little bit to say while those are the keys to success, the phases of a successful marketing campaign are awareness, seduction and persuasion. The biggest challenge facing any product release is awareness. You have to find a way to let your fans know that you exist first and foremost; and awareness is not always just about getting in front of people. How many times does a young girl, with a crush in class complain to her girlfriends “he doesn’t even know I exist?!” This, an almost silly statement, since if one shares a (reasonably sized) class with someone, the assumption is that most of the class members are at least familiar with one another. The problem from her perspective is not visibility; it’s awareness. The crush knows she’s there, but she needs him to consciously register her existence. How does she do that? She changes her behavior to make him take notice. Maybe it’s a different path to class, to make sure he sees her. Maybe it’s sitting next to him or volunteering to be his lab partner, rather than fawning from across the room. Perhaps, it’s adding more pieces of clothing to her wardrobe that include his favorite color (this, of course, would be the result of market research and package design in a more professional setting). The proper mix of these activities, if done well, will grab the crush’s attention. Awareness achieved! What’s next? Seduction. This is when he finally comes over to her. For the first time; he starts the conversation in class. He elects to sit next to her. She flirts. She tells him he made a great play in the game last night, or sounded really smart giving an answer in class. If she’s smart though, she mixes in the flattery with remarks that bring his attention back to her assets that are most appealing to him. (Which, of course, she knows. Again, back to the market research and the months spent observing his behavior before she gained enough confidence to do something about it.) Finally, when he’s wrapped up in what she’s put out there…persuasion or: the sell. “Maybe you should take me to dinner Friday.”
Every marketing campaign is an act of seduction; every sale is an act of persuasion. Just as some girls have an easier time getting that first date, some products are an easier sell than others. But neither the seduction nor the persuasion can occur until the intended purchaser knows what the product is; and really knows. He doesn’t just pass by every day, and if someone brought it up, he’d realize he knew it was there; he KNOWS that its there, consciously, and is therefore more open to being drawn in by what the product has to offer. Awareness, as I’ve mentioned before, is the hardest part.
Yesterday, I was on a panel at NARM (The National Association of Recording Merchandisers), which is one of my favorite industry conventions of the year. I told a story about a trip I took many years ago to Turkey, during which we stopped at Ephesus. A few steps up from the port, thousands of years had preserved what must have been one of the world’s first billboards. Engraved into the stone pathway (the original, no less!) was a stick-figure picture that was fairly discernable as a woman, and an arrow. Ten paces further up the walkway lay another image. Then, slightly further up, another. The local brothel was giving directions to it’s target market, immediately upon it’s arrival, to its services. And not just once; several times. A tired sailor returning from Ithaca, or a foreign traveler would have no trouble, immediately after disembarking, finding the pleasure that the ladies of Ephesus had to offer. Fortunately, on the whole, the seduction and persuasion, in that particular example, are the easy parts. Awareness is the biggest mountain to climb, and the most important part of any campaign…and the first step to any sale.
Back to our original example, and more to the point; even those of us who thrive on the art of indie music, on the DIY essence need to remember the basic principles of marketing. Market research – really knowing who your audience is, and not just who you think they are is step one. Pay attention to the people who come to your shows, who post on your wall, and who buy your records. Then continue to seduce them. You’ll grow from there; but trying to court a market that might not be right for your music, even if they’re the hip kids, is a waste of time and money. After the market research, product design and packaging is of paramount importance. People like things, and people will pay for things they don’t have to if it’s presented in a pleasing manner. The bottled water industry discovered this years ago, and Fiji perfected it. Why does anyone pay three times the price for Fiji water? Because it looks nice. Your album, merchandise, and auxiliary products should have the same effect. Price is also important, but again, in art, has a different connotation than a commodity. Keep that in mind. Most people know the three Ps of marketing are Price, Product, and Promotion. In the music industry, we often forget about price and product because we’re used to $9.99, $11.98, etc. As the industry continues to evolve, the more effort an artist puts back into the entire package and presentation of his music, the more successful he’ll be.
This is not groundbreaking stuff…but it is important to remember. Once you have your 3 P’s…if you’ve paid attention, you should have a more successful time with the awareness, seduction, and persuasion of your audience.