Do you own your own business? Do you offer a product or service that you wish to promote? Do you love your business and want to see it expanding? Are you creative and tenacious? Any or all of these may define you or may highlight an area that is a challenge for your business success. This article will offer, through a case study, some useful techniques that will assist you in promoting your product or service.
I assume that you have a GOOD product or service, or, at least, a very good idea for a business. No matter how good your product or service is, if people do not know about you, you will not be able to sell your product or service at the highest levels. Since each product/service is different and each market (or community) is unique, you must be creative in interpreting these basic concepts so they apply most appropriately to your specific situation.
The example that I will be using may be a stretch to fit for your business, but when you see the creative ideas that we came up with in coaching this business, you will see how these concepts may be worth trying for your business. This is for a brand new business in the Los Angeles area. The business is a new Rock Band. Obviously the competition is high and average returns are generally low. So how can you use these promotional principles to achieve a greater than average level of success?
Let’s assume that this band is musically good and plays a style of music that people have enjoy. Not all musical experiences are good or enjoyable. This band is talented and creative enough to create their first album/CD and is ready to take it to the next level. No one knows about this band or their music, but there are few venues/clubs that hear their music from the website or CD and are willing to let them play in front of their clients (an audience.)
It is obvious that the band must rehearse their music and create a decent show but how do you promote the band and fill the seats. You need people in the seats to get paid by the club owners and through sales of your CD’s. Eventually, when the band is successful, people will know about them, pay money to come to their shows and buy CD and band related merchandise. Most bands have young people who are focused on their music, not promotion and not the business of getting people to come into the club or venue and pay money for this experience. In fact, most bands are filled with dreamers who can appear to be lazy when it comes to doing “the business.” Dreamers want the audience to magically appear and then adore the band and buy stuff… This is a problem for most businesses. Selling the product or service is a necessary, but often a disliked part of “the business.”
The band was coached on what they might do and their coach held them accountable to go out and do these activities… (Even if we know what to do, we often need help with the accountability of following through on the promotional activities.) Here is the beginning list of necessary promotional activities:
1. Gather names and e-mail addresses for fans and people to invite to the shows. Have an e-mail sign-up list at EVERY event.
2. Get the venues/clubs to help promote shows through their e-mail lists AND ask the club for contact information for any media (TV, radio stations, newsletter, entertainment magazines/newsletters) they advertise with AND a list of many major businesses or organizations within a few miles of their club.
3. Get a list of any internet music promotion websites. Assign someone to contact and update these websites on a regular basis, with enough advanced time.
4. Create a press release and media kit for distribution to entertainment media like TV, radio stations, newspapers, magazines, etc. Be ready to go when you have found the person in the media organization to send these to.
5. Get a list of local colleges in the area of the music venues that might attract fans through college newspapers, college radio stations, or announcements/fliers (OFFER discounts on CD sales when they come to performance and announce that they have heard of their local promotion… Get their e-mails for future promotions…) Offer to play shows, for a discounted rate, for their students to create fans and future conversions to fans/clients.
6. Contact other local bands that may have success in the venue/club and offer to CROSS-Promote by using each other e-mail lists to cross-promote events. (Sign up for the other bands e-mail list to make sure they follow through and send out promotions for your band… and do not forget to send their band info to your e-mail list…) The more successful bands will have large lists. Both bands can win by getting more visibility and may convert fans.
7. Keep your website current with show information and any promotional events. Many businesses are lazy about keeping current but this can be important for communication with your customers/fans.
8. Contact the network of media that the club/venue has provided to promote your event… Allow as much time as possible, 4-6 weeks in advance. Do Not Be Lazy! Send them: media kit, cover letter, press release, and sample of music/CD. FOLLOW UP with telephone call. Do not assume that they will see your stuff and open it and read it. Taking time to find the “right” person in this media outlet can be very important, Do not be lazy… Give them a GOOD REASON to promote your event… The band that I was coaching was donating money from the sales of their CD’s to the Cancer Society and were volunteering to provide music at local cancer fundraising events like the “Relay for Life” fundraisers. Give something back to the community! Also, be timely with current news events, locally or globally, if your product or service can be adapted as a newsworthy item for the media.
9. Contact the local businesses that are in the area of the venue. Speak to the personnel office and offer an employee incentive discount for CD’s sold at the venue. ALSO, ask if the business ever requires entertainment at their employees rallies/picnics, awards programs, or their promotional events. Offer these business a discount for paid business as a “get to know you” networking trade. Promote the local club/venue so that it is a win-win situation for the club’s future cooperation. (The higher up in management you can network at the business, the better the chance of future professional business relationships.) By helping them with their personnel, you can build a relationship with this business that leads to future business relationships. Consider promoting to local service clubs where you can network with other businesses and organizations. Be creative in networking and ask their help with additional networking referrals. Service clubs need entertain or speakers and may be consider sources of clients.
10. At the events, announce future shows, any new merchandise, and consider announcing the donations to a local or large non-profit organization from sale of CD’s or in a donation jar (and send donations to the non-profit…)
11. Offer to volunteer at fundraisers and invite your fans/clients to participate in the good cause, plus get exposure to new fans/clients and promote these events in local media.
12. Contact radio stations for “Playtime” by sending media kit and sample music to the “right people” at the radio stations. Offer to do interviews or play at any fundraisers they are involved with. Always invite radio people to your fundraising events to keep them informed regarding your good work in the community. Always let these people know about new products or major shows that you are offering, to stay in front of their consciousness and to maintain a good relationship.
13. (yes, 13) Join a network which will market your product or service to motivated buyers. Motivation can be created by special rebates, bonuses, or added benefits. (There are networks that do this and if you need examples, just contact us…)
This case study is a current project. So far, the clubs/venues love it and are looking at the band as “professional.” The media likes it and are opening the doors for music radio playtime. The Non-profits love the donations and are getting the band booked for fundraisers and so more community exposure events. The businesses love to offer their employees discount incentives that are entertaining and stress reducing. And by the way, there are more people attending their shows and becoming fans…
Now these promotional principles may need some translation for your business. Be creative. Most of these activities are low cost or no cost. (You can always send lots of money to advertise but you can build better relationships with these low cost activities.) Do not be lazy. If you are struggling with creative ways of applying these promotional ideas, you can get mentoring or coaching that can help translate these activities to fit your business.
Please take good care of yourself.
|L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Success & Executive Coaching and Training. He has offered sales coaching to small and mid-size businesses since 1982.Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at Stress, Stress Management, Coaching, and Training for articles, free ezine signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.