Posted on July 25, 2010


Before considering how to market your product, service or for that matter – yourself as an artist, take a good look at what marketing entails. It’s far more than just pitching yourself to the retail market that supports vendors just like you.

Marketing takes a good look at more than a prospective audience or customer’s needs but a good look at a customer’s wants. A customer needs to eat food to survive, but he WANTS a peanut butter and banana sandwich. He needs to drink something when he’s thirsty, but he WANTS a Cadillac Margarita. The marketplace is filled with supplies for the need, but it’s targeting a whole series of wants.

To offer a series of wants to a specific demographic, a marketer needs to create something of an awareness to a customer. You know there’s a jar of peanut butter, but did you know that this one is more peanut buttery? It sounds silly but it’s true, Choosy Moms do choose Jiff. Every year Cocoa Puffs has more chocolaty flavor. If this were true, by now it would be a block of chocolate in a box, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that the consumer knows, it’s now “more chocolaty”, and now is the time to get it.

Why a customer, a listener or simply a buyer chooses you over the item, act or service next to yours is a matter of benefit. What is the ultimate benefit of going with YOU? THAT is what we aim to target with good marketing.

A good public relations campaign will cover the specifics of your needs to appeal to the market place. Public and private research to target your specific demographic is most important. If you don’t know who you are marketing to then why waste your time on a campaign? Very few John Denver fans care if you sound like Nickelback. Don’t waste your efforts spilling it out onto them.

Branding and advertising make you a stand out. As covered in my article on branding, there is something that tells the consumer – this is what you get every time you see this logo. Your representation is depicted by your branding, your packaging and, of course, your consistence in delivering the quality you maintain. If it isn’t good, they’ll remember that every time they see your brand. I promise you that.

Consider your method of communication. How are you getting your message across to the consumer? Is it a last ditch blurb on a Myspace bulletin the morning before a show? Do bands really think this brings in a crowd? I believe many do because I get inundated with them every day. I tell many artists that if I had known about the show last week, I could have arranged to make it. Tonight just isn’t going to happen.

There are a few other things that will make your marketing effort go more smoothly. Your product has to have a personal meaning to the consumer. Really! If it isn’t personal, why are they going to spend their hard earned cash on it? It will mean nothing to them, and they certainly won’t tell a friend about it with any enthusiasm. People are ultimately your best sales tool. Appeal to them with an item they can’t be without, even if for a day, and that day they will convince three more people they know to at least consider having it themselves. You need to relate to the consumer with something they have to have. Perhaps they don’t need it, but you can give them something they’ll want to have anyway. A child can walk a Barbie and Ken doll across the room, but to push them in a bright pink Barbie Convertible Corvette, now that’s something they want!

Now, how about that packaging? Does it meet the minimum standards of the other branded items being put on a shelf? All other paper towels are wrapped in easy to carry and dispose plastic wrap that shows the product clear through the wrapper. Should yours be in a large brown paper sack? I don’t think so. Be creative, but within the scope of the marketplace. Make it distinguishable, within the scope of your respected branding, but make it stand out. A white bag of store brand sugar, yeah, it’s okay. A Diamond brand bag with bright yellow and blue for just nine cents more? That’s the one selling out!

The obvious reason for marketing is to increase revenue through sales. Is your campaign going to do that? Is it really going to sell? Take into consideration that even the smallest CD retailer is going to want a copy for himself, and will be more likely to put your product up front if he gets his palm greased. It’s just the way it works, and for the most part, through experience I can tell you that it is expected. Some of the best online retailers I sold with were offered three copies free upon release. One was for their personal use and two were to sell. It was an understanding that the two copies were to ensure that when they sold they would have a couple bucks toward an order of five or ten copies. The free copies put it on the front page of the website, the front page of the website made the sale and the sale made the order that followed. Easy as pie! Your campaign may not be as cut and dry as putting it up and selling it because it’s available. Most of the time it’s available because there was no push to promote it in the marketplace, otherwise it might just be temporarily backordered. You may never know unless you spend time to create a marketing plan.

Of course, the price has a big effect on the sale. It differs from marketplace to marketplace, and chances are, being the original source, you’ll have to accept less then the expected sale price to allow the end seller to make a profit. Be prepared to sell your ten-dollar CD for six bucks, and see it sold in a store for thirteen dollars. It might not be moving right off the store’s shelf, but it moved off of yours. That’s what counts

A little story about a girl I greatly admire and the action she took that launched a new world of music sales. Long before iTunes and Napster, Natalie Merchant; one of the dearest talents you can spend time talking to, set up shop online and recorded her own masterpieces. Natalie had enough of the major label game, and maybe she even saw far enough into the future to see where the media market was going. Her fan base was developed and loyal and she proved, long before the world caught on, that recording, manufacturing and selling directly to her fan base was going to put the profit in her pocket. Still, she could market to the big boys that have carried her recordings for years. She profited from the wholesale market there too. She was the source. While some fans were devoted to her, they may also have been devoted to buying her CD’s at John’s Underground Music Mart and as they have in the past, they did again. She saw too it. It took research and planning, but every move she made put the CD’s in the old familiar places where fans bought them in the past. This time, Natalie controlled the flow of money and so on to today’s Internet marketplace.

Determine your target. Discover how your brand reaches them and ask if you have to; how do the media that reaches them construct an appealing advertisement that offers them a reason to make the purchase? Then do it! Keep pricing equal to spending. If they won’t pay ten, find a way to make it eight! If you’re losing money at eight, find a way to make it cheaper and reduce distribution cost. It can be done! I’ve proved it! Stimulate the consumer’s interests with ad placement, press releases, news blurbs, airplay, interviews, photography and word of mouth. Create the need to know more, and give them more!

The entire campaign simply offers, (and I scoff when I say simply – it isn’t that simple), easy access to attain a means to an end. Your consumer has a want; your product is the solution. Your marketing plan is the bridge that fills the gap between. 

Ready to go fishing? Make sure you choose the right bait and tackle.

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