Many artists incorrectly believe that marketing is synonymous with advertising. Therefore, when trying to increase sales of a (hopefully outstanding) product or service, they focusÂ disproportionate attention on this promotional method. Consider the following scenarios:
- A dance troupeÂ wants to attract biggerÂ crowds to their shows.Â They place ads in local newspapers.
- A college professor wants to recruitÂ drama majors.Â She asks her school to place ads in magazines geared towards actors.
- A guitarist wants to increase sales of a new CD.Â He asks his label to place ads in trade journals and catalogues.
- An art school for children wants to drum up more business.Â Â They place an ad in the Yellow Pages.
Personally, Iâ€™m not a big fan of advertisements.Â Theyâ€™re expensive and, with a world drowning in a sea of competing ads, certainly donâ€™t guarantee sales.Â In fact, countless marketing gurus have declared death to conventional advertising. Whether or not thatâ€™s 100% true,Â they rarely work in isolation.Â Â To have anyÂ impact whatsoever, they must be supplemented with additional compelling messages.
For my bookÂ The Savvy Musician: Building a Career, Earning a Living, & Making a Difference, we made a conscious decision not to place a single ad anywhere (and so far have made good on that commitment).Â Yes sales have been, according to our distributor, â€œexceptional.â€Â And thereâ€™s a reason why.Â We market like crazy beasts.Â
So what exactly is marketing?Â Hereâ€™s my definition: EVERYTHING!Â And everything is marketing:
- The projects you pursueâ€”what they are and why others should care
- The products your produceâ€”including quality and if they solve real problems
- TheÂ art you createâ€”and whether its newsworthy
- The brand you buildâ€”your name, what makes you different, and how others perceive your work
- The relationships you cultivateâ€”how much trust exists, and if you wish them happy birthday Â
- The web presence you maintainâ€”quality and quantity count, as does a strong call to action
- The visibility you demonstrateâ€”showing up and participating actively
- The promotional materials you craftâ€”both content and presentation
- The e-mails you sendâ€”message, accuracy, and speed with which you respond
- The persistence you showâ€”whether consistently following through or giving up after 3 attempts
- The customer service you demonstrateâ€”especially when thereâ€™s a problem
- The way you engage fansâ€”both online and during the concert (including intermission)
- The loyalty you cultivateâ€”because active engagement generates buzz and referrals
- The testimonials you generateâ€”since wordsÂ are more credible when coming from others
- The look you wearâ€”including the expression on your face
- The attitude you projectâ€”even on your worst days
A bio or resume doesnâ€™t just state what youâ€™ve done.Â Itâ€™s marketing.Â Volunteering for a great cause isnâ€™t just charitable.Â Itâ€™s marketing.Â Showing up late isnâ€™t just unprofessional.Â Itâ€™s (negative) marketing.Â Your performances, recordings, paintings, lessons, and workshops are not just artistic products.Â They’re marketing!Â
So how much marketing are you doing?Â And which messages do you convey?