Marketing and Publicity 101
Who are you trying to reach? | What story are you telling? | What is your purpose?
These are the big questions around creating your marketing content. Your content may be memes, pictures, videos, illustrations, verbiage and whatever other ways you may create in order to connect with other people. You want to reach the people who will become a member of your tribe who will then support your art, your brand, and you. Welcome to Marketing and Publicity 101.
How you connect with the people you want supporting you will make all the difference in whether or not they will support you. You need to show the world what your brand is through your story in words, images, videos and most importantly human interaction. People want to feel connected, especially before they start supporting someone else and their endeavors. It used to bet that the only way to get publicity was through big media outlets; thankfully, this is no longer true with social media. You just have to get organized, get creative, be authentic and hustle like you have never hustled before.
Where do you start? First, make a list of the places you want to start promoting your brand, where are you going to market yourself. i.e. Website, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, etc. Your website is listed first, as you may set one up for free and this will become your brands’ storefront. On your website, you collectively have everything your fans need to know about you. You should have a page for tour dates, links to various videos you have on YouTube or elsewhere, images, your merchandise, booking inquiry forms, and much more. This is your home base, your central intelligence for your brand.
Let's jump into...
Your Online Music Home
Here are a few of the DON’Ts for websites
- DON’T MAKE A COMING SOON PAGE
Seriously, no one cares. There’s no reason for the person to go back to your website. You’ll have basically wasted a visit and wasted your visitor’s time. Have respect for and strategize around directing your website visitor’s attention.
- LANDING PAGES NEED CALLS TO ACTION (more on that later)
- AVOID CLUTTER
- DON’T HAVE BLACK BACKGROUNDS WITH TINY WHITE TEXT - It’s Hard to Read
- DON’T USE FLASH
- PLEASE DON’T HAVE YOUR MUSIC START PLAYING AUTOMATICALLY
- Jose Feliciano’s website is a horrible example. But we won’t hold it against him.
I personally don’t understand what to do when someone gives me a list of don’ts. So - now that we’ve identified what not to do, let’s talk about what to do.
- PURPOSE DRIVEN PAGES
Websites and individual web pages must have a purpose. You should have a clear understanding of how you would like to direct your visitors’ attention.
- VISITOR EXPERIENCE
- CLEAR CALL TO ACTION
- CLEAN NAVIGATION
Helping you to determine which specific Content Management System (CMS) to use for your website is beyond the scope of this document; however, there are plenty of reviews and comparisons of your options. Please start your research with the article here.
Here are some website themes to check out:
Here are some great website resources to help you optimize your content:
- List of Start-Up Tools - things like email campaigns and website analytics: https://medium.com/readers-writers-digest/you-dont-want-to-miss-this-exhaustive-list-of-start-up-tools-fe6a96f95672
Design Resources that can save you money, including free image and font sites: https://medium.com/readers-writers-digest/200-free-design-resources-that-can-save-you-time-money-2bb20e63fd8
The Call To Action
Driving People to the Goal
When people see your content, you want to direct them towards a certain course of action. For example, a common Call to Action (CTA) on Instagram is telling your followers to click a link in your bio for more information, to buy a product, etc. On your social media, most posts shouldn’t include a CTA; those platforms are about connecting with your fans and showing your personality. But there should always be a clear CTA on your website homepage! When people find your site, they should instantly see signs directing them towards something else to keep them engaged. Awesome Home Page CTA options for you are buying tickets to your next gig, getting a free download, buying or pre-ordering your new album, or contributing to your crowdfunding campaign.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE
- USE CLEAR FONTS
- MAKE IT EYE-CATCHING
- COORDINATE WITH YOUR WEBSITE THEME
- Don’t PUT IT OFF TO THE SIDE - your CTA should be the center of attention
- Don’t INCLUDE TOO MUCH EXPLANATION - the action should be encapsulated in a couple words, like “PRE-ORDER NOW” or “BUY TICKETS”
Put Your Personality Out There
Ok, the website is set, now you need to start building your following on social media. This is how and where you are able to connect directly with your fans. As of 2018, most consumers make their buying decisions based on a brand’s social media page or because of an influencer promoting a brand on their social media. These are the platforms where you want to be posting your regular updates, thoughts and some calls to action, all in your brand’s style. There should be a blend of videos and still images as well as enough information as to not bore the audience. 8 seconds is now the average attention span of someone online and they are scrolling through hundreds of feet of information a day. So, you need to know your audience! You need to know what they like and what types of posts they engage in so you can get their attention. You need to search hashtags that are relevant to your brand and start engaging with the like minded audience you want. Here are some quick dos and don’ts for social media.
- BE CONSISTENT, post at least 3 times a week
- BALANCE YOUR CONTENT, between your brand and topics relevant to your brand
- TELL YOUR NARRATIVE/STORY
Your fans want to get to know you, to get a sense of your personality and your life. Be authentic. If you have someone else do social media updates for you, don’t have them adopt your voice and pretend to be you - your fans can tell!
- BUILD RELATIONSHIPS, you must interact and talk with others
- ADD VALUE, maybe offer giveaways or free educational information
- Don’t be PUSHY!
- Don’t be TOO SALESY, please don’t always be asking for the buy.
- Don’t be NEGATIVE, no one wants or needs more negativity in this world!
- Don’t POST TOO LITTLE. You need to keep in front of your audience.
Put together, your social media accounts and website are some of your greatest assets as an artist. Make sure you protect them well! Use good passwords and change them often, since the risk of hacking is real. Your tech gives you the amazing opportunity to connect with your fans - respond to their comments, answer their emails, tweet them back - and it’s both fun and necessary in this age. If you don’t connect with them, they can find another artist who will make the time. Your fans want to feel like they know you, so make yourself known!
Connecting With Your Fans In Person
Though your website and social media pages are crucial, connecting with people in real life is equally important. Social media gets you immediate, easy, but often shallow interaction. By talking to people face-to-face, you will win lifelong superfans, the people that’ll basically do your marketing and publicity for you by telling their friends about you, sharing your posts and videos, etc. Make yourself available to meet people as often as possible, especially before and after gigs. However, even if you have a great meetup, people are busy and they may forget to look you up when they get home. Help them remember you later by giving them things with your name and logo on them like guitar picks, stickers, or flyers for your next gig.
- BE INVITING - Let people know you want them to come and talk to you!
- PHYSICAL TAKEAWAY - flyer, guitar picks, stickers, business cards, etc. Have free stuff as well as merch like t-shirts for sale.
- SPREAD THE LOVE - Tell your fans how much you love and appreciate them any chance you get.
- GET INVOLVED - Being a part of your community and local music scene is a perfect way to gain fans and a following. Volunteer, go to your friends’ gigs, and in general support people. They’ll return the favor!
- Don’t BE UNFRIENDLY - If you’re feeling maxed out or cranky, it’s better to take a break rather than have a poor interaction with a current or potential fan. A negative rep will spread much more quickly than a positive one.
- Don’t ALWAYS EXPECT OTHERS TO INITIATE - Many people are too intimidated to start up a conversation with someone as cool as you! Try putting yourself out there and schmoozing the crowd instead of waiting at your table for people to come to you.
Marketing yourself is always happening, purposefully or not. What you post, what you wear and how you act all impact your music career. Be aware of what you’re putting out into the world and shape it to your story, your brand, and your goals. Lastly and most importantly, know when you need a break! The amount of marketing and publicity you can do is limitless, and it can be insanely draining. Remember to go easy on yourself and make sure you’re living a life you can sustain long-term. Keep it up!