I haven’t done a marketing article for a while and today I had the perfect thing show in my Inbox that wraps up what I’ve been thinking for a while.
This is Dumb: eBay sent me an email with the Subject “We thought of you when we discovered these goodies…” This actually worked as it made me think maybe eBay had something that would interest or amuse me.
Halloween costumes, really! That Paris Hilton costume is way scary but I HATE costumes.
They then go on to offer me:
- a pressure washer (I don’t I like going outside, getting wet or doing anything that resembles manly tradesman work),
- wine (I don’t drink),
- then bedding (ok I sleep but while not wanting to pressure wash may make me seem unmanly to some it doesn’t mean I live for manchester). Maybe eBay wants to get me in bed (hopefully not in that Paris Hilton outfit).
In the whole email, the only thing that remotely relates to anything that might interest me is the mouse. Bit green for my liking but I mouse. Doing it as we speak actually.
You Know I Love You… Don’t You?
Just saying you know & understand me doesn’t make it so. You need to prove it. Not because I’m testing you but simply because if you said you know what I like then I expect you to have at least some idea.
If it was a general email saying “here’s some crap you might fall for buying because we showed it to you” then I have no expectations other than hope there may be something that amuses me. I have had junk mail be very lucky by showing me the very thing I wanted (sometimes without even knowing in advance I did want it).
Trying to establish a level of relationship that isn’t there is a very Dumb thing to do. Remember that Dumb is when you are so self-interested that you do things that damage your greater self-interest.
Next time I get an eBay email, I’m less eager to open it. If I currently open 1 in 5 from eBay, I now might be 1 in 10. If they catch me again it could be 0 in 50. Not great marketing at all.
This is the modern way we are taught to out-clever ourselves. The rationale given to let you think this is a great way to connect with your customers – sorry I mean fans – is that we have Artificial Intelligence getting to know your peeps for you so you don’t have to.
Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)
It does seem awfully clever to think that we can use a computer to pretend that we know anything about the people we deal with. It is even stupider (or “more stupid” to be grammatically correct) to think that people even fall for thinking that because an A.I. vaguely connected that we did A & B last time we must love C (or even want another A) that the owner of said bot actually cares about us in the slightest.
It is a pretense and not a wise one because it draws attention to the very failing that you have. eBay can’t know me, they are waaaaaaaay to biiiiiig to know me on any level. I don’t even buy enough to appear on the top 1,000 list of people who bought phone covers 2 years ago to know that I may be in the market for another (based on average phone ownership being 2 years). This isn’t actually the problem you think it is.
Don’t You Know I Want You
Actually yes I do.
It is self-evident that eBay wants my business. It is self-evident that Elvis would want me to buy his new record (were he not in hiding and pretending to be Billy Idol).
To pretend otherwise is silly and more likely to do damage than good. Here’s the reason:
When you market based on your wants and needs alone then you tell me that you not only don’t understand me but you don’t care for me in any way other than to get my cash. With nothing of value in return.
Now you may use my logic against me and say well Elvis always wants your cash, it is self-evident seeing he wants you to buy his new record. Yes, but this is disingenuous and the very reason that many less-than-stellar marketers do such a horrible job.
Elvis wants my coin. But Elvis knows that to get it he has to give me something that exceeds my want for my coin. He knows he has to please me. If Elvis released a record where all he did was make 5 mins of Daffy Duck noises and asked $250 for the download (so no velvet painting dust jacket) would you buy it?
Maybe not a great example as I bet there is someone right now looking for the Buy button as they are that dedicated to Elvis (and he could be darned funny, with panache even) but really the reality is that you are saying no dice old dead dude because I’m not feeling the love here. Perhaps $3 of love but not the other $247. The offer still has to build value more than it takes it.
Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone)
Some of you who have read this far may also be trying to quote study numbers at me showing that if you offer fries with that then your sales go up. Ok sure. In a few cases they actually do but at what cost in your market?
If you are reading this then you probably aren’t a McMajor McGlobal McBurger McFranchise with the ability to print money based on (at best) average McFood. You are probably a musician on the very bleeding edge of nowhere.
If you are sending spammy Me, Me, Me posts like this one from eBay or the usual dump & run cliche of…
My latest blockbuster, world rockin’ MEGGA-HIT choon just dropped n you gotta go like it for me on Spotifry
…you aren’t doing yourself any favors as all you did was talk about yourself (and drop big stinking piles of rancid pork pie). It would be more honest to have sloped up to me with your piece demanding all my mother forkin’ money in return for no cap busted in my ass.
Any possible fans you may have developed a relationship with are shaking their heads at you and trying not to laugh at your lack of coolth.
I Don’t Even Know Your Name
Here’s a real & useful Marketing 101 for you (with no added crap or even a picture to make it look nice):
- Build a record that gives not only the expected, cliche stuff that people want but pushes you past that to deliver something that only you can do. There are a million Judas Priest wannabes but only one Priest (maybe not even that based on “Firepower”). Your job is to deliver something that is uniquely you and therefore as powerful as “Dark Side Of The Moon” or “Wish You Were Here”. It’s not about mix or volume, it is about emotional power. This is what gets you remembered. A 98%-as-good copy of a third-rate record you like because it doesn’t challenge your Hipster sensitivities won’t cut it. It is selfish marketing. Here is the first fail that most musicians make – their music isn’t great, let alone good. Forget all the crap you read about mixing, mastering or email lists – make FUCKING GREAT MUSIC. The rest will flow if your product is great – grabs people by the emotionals. If you could pay someone an amount of cash to help you deliver a record that was your Dark Side, how much would it be?
- Finish the record; which means wrapping up the mixes, running order etc. It also means putting on a good cover. A pic off the internet won’t cut it. It won’t make you mysterious to have no band name or album title on the cover. It will make you invisible. You put effort into calling your band “Hammer of The Dickheads*” so let people see this so it can resonate with them. If you also think making your record cover in Word with a green wiggly font over pink lines is a great plan, think again. You need someone who can do this well. A cover can be simple but it cannot be tasteless.
- Post the record where it can be sold. The best platform I know is Bandcamp. They are very open and totally free on the way in. Everyone else will tell you you have to be on Spotifry because it’s all about streaming. Don’t believe them. Being there will not get you magically found (or make you any money). Matter of fact it probably makes you seem desperate. Trust me. I have other articles on this but ALL YOU NEED is a place where your record can sit as a record (none of this random singles rot either) and people can press the buy now and get delivered their music.
- Now you have a product that is buyable you just need to let people know it is there for their listening & owning pleasure. The simple rule is not “what others are doing” (and failing badly with) but “what led you to know about the bands/records you love”. This is what works. Everything else doesn’t. I know that a lot of what got you into Pink Floyd may be radio, TV or even your best bud letting you share his iHeadphone as you sat un-blokey close on the concrete being transported by Roto Toms. You can’t engineer that with email marketing lists or even adverts on the sides of busses. You can, however, encourage it by making a record as blindingly blinding as Dark Side – if you but try (and enlist people to help push you past the average where you want to stop from fear). That is viral and wasn’t invented by Internet nerds or Paris Hilton.
- Of course, you want me to list obvious things. Share this record’s existence amongst your friends. Don’t push, not all the girls in your set are into Catkill-Core (but I think that one who never gets a haircut is). If people are interested they will ask. Hopefully, your bestie will play your opus to at least some of your set and if it is remotely cool they will want to be associated with your greatness. It has to be organic or it is pfft. If you aren’t playing live then do all you can to play live. Live might net you a coin or two but more importantly, it gives you the opportunity to blow off socks (and maybe bras too if you are that good) and build a scene. Live lets you be larger than life. Elvis done that real good. So good he’s larger than death.
- Then the next step is YouTube. If you are a single-Simon then you may have to go straight to the Tube but think carefully. Don’t do that Hipster thing where you appear to play all the instruments in lots of little windows. Wanker alert. That ain’t R&R. No one will want to take off their bra for that. Matter of fact they probably want to put another one on. Even if you aren’t David Lee Roth there has to be a way to provide something with your phone that is interesting enough to get the attention of the kinds of people who are buying the sort of records you are. You know what this is because you are you and think like a fan. Does your scene like vids where the bands… Just again don’t look at what the losers are doing because it is easy, look at what the big names are doing then do that without looking like a copy-cat. Maybe even be clever and use the ethos of a Motley Crue vid for your New Age record. Why not? Don’t let budget be your excuse. You have a phone and that is enough if you apply your creativity.
- Honestly, that is it. By now your record is 2 weeks old and has peaked and passed. You need to be working on nudging this in small ways like chatting in the Forum for your scene so people can see your album in your sig. Help other acts. Help fans find rare records. More importantly, you need to be planning your next record and how it can be better, more interesting… You know this is true because if Apple didn’t have an iPhone 745 on the horizon you’d be about to swap to Android.
Now again please note that I don’t talk about amazing mixes, mastering your track into next week (or -12 lufs), nor do I talk about mailing lists, free eBooks etc. These are traps & sidelines for those unwilling to do the real work. While an invisible few will claim these things really work they are at best someone who got lucky (because they lucked into right record, right time) but most are simply scams to extract your email or more.
Indi R&R can look & sound like shipping containers and still fire so long as it is emotive – it rocks off socks & jocks. Only you can deliver that if you but scare yourself enough.
*Now if you call your band “Hammer of the Dickheads” I expect a cut.