💡 2020 has thrown musicians like us some unique challenges, and has prompted many to find ways to diversify. For some this has meant learning a completely new skill, and for others has been rediscovering a forgotten talent.
But we know the music industry is not dead. Concerts and private functions are slowly returning, but with below average numbers there’s never been a better time to consider how we can be the ones who get the gig.
In this article we’ll look at some marketing basics that apply to both musicians and small businesses alike (click here to skip this section), plus we’ll compare how we market ourselves with how we can market a group. We hope this will help you make some informed decisions about how to get your ensemble back on its feet, working towards a busier 2021!
The marketing funnel sounds fancy, but it is a simple concept. It’s a basic flowchart used to illustrate the journey someone can take from discovering your product to buying it, and then what happens after they’ve made their first purchase.
There are a vast number of different interpretations of what a marketing funnel could be (and an equal number of essays written about why theirs is the definitive version). But I’ll keep to a basic model, in which we have five steps:
Do you see how each stage is getting smaller than the last? That’s because as customers move though the funnel, there will be some who lose interest. We can’t help this, of course – but we can work to maximise retention as we progress. Let’s have a look at each of the five stages in a little more detail:
This is the base of all marketing – in order for someone to want to buy your product, they first have to know you exist!
They know what you have to offer and are weighing up their options between you and the competition.
Your potential customer has decided that they want your product above all others.
Congratulations, you made the sale!
Repeat custom from the same buyers. NB: In some models the funnel is more like a circle, where this final step is ‘referral’. This suits the musical world well, as someone who has enjoyed a performance is quite likely to tell their friends about it – increasing awareness.
Now we’ve looked at some of the basic principles of marketing, let’s dive into the difference between marketing yourself and marketing your group.
In a perfect world, everyone who called you when you were straight out of college would keep booking you forever – right?
Well yes, but we know that this isn’t a realistic prospect. There’s a finite amount of work available, with a greater number of competent musicians than there are seats in any given orchestra. In economic terms, our industry is oversupplied.
The thing about classical musicians (or at least the ones I know) is that we are rather shy of self-promoting, and in fact the reaction when we do is often far from positive. So here’s my interpretation of what we can do at each step of the funnel:
Joking aside, in an oversupplied industry we only have real control over the awareness stage. We can prospectively send orchestras our CV, we can attempt to ‘accidentally bump into’ fixers or other musicians in the pub, and we can join diary services so that we can be easily found without a personal connection.
Beyond this, I really do think we can only try our best to do to one thing: Be nice.
Actually, two things: Be nice, and hope that we encounter some good fortune (nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!). We can try to stay in the good books of friends and colleagues, in the hope that they will consider us when they next need a dep. And of course we can turn up on time, be courteous, and perform to the best of our ability.
The good news is that these things are all free, but beyond them the decision is out of our hands. When we’re talking about marketing our groups though – be they classical, commercial, novelty, wedding, or anything else – we have many more tools up our sleeve.
So you’ve got yourself a great ensemble with a killer USP. You’re confident in your product, but we need to make sure people know who you are (the awareness stage) and can find you easily (moving to consideration).
Here’s where us classical musicians can utilise some of the tools available to the rest of the business world. We can both gain exposure and make sure that when a potential client is in need, it’s you that they find.
How? Here are some of our options.
In 2020, content marketing could be your most powerful tool to promote your group. This umbrella term takes in all forms of creative digital media, be that via YouTube videos, audio recordings, useful articles (like this one!), perhaps even making your arrangements available to download. The goal is to show you are a reliable and trustworthy player in your chosen category, increasing awareness and persuading possible customers to choose you.
Case Study: Oompah Brass
Oompah Brass are a five piece ensemble, who perform unique arrangements of pop classics in a Bavarian Oompah style. Their USP is clear, and videos of their performances on YouTube have been linked to a variety of bookings. In one instance, the tuba-playing son of a restaurateur in Bermuda found Oompah Brass’ videos online and showed them to his father, which directly resulted in the idea of the Bermuda Oktoberfest and annual trips to the island since 2013.
SEO (Search Engine Marketing) and content marketing aim for the same goal, in a way. The principle of SEO is to work towards becoming the top ranked result on Google, so that you are the first thing people see when they search for your product without the need for paid advertising.
For an in-depth look at this topic, check out my article on SEO for musicians.
Case Study: Amadeus Orchestra
With a well-built website using specific keywords and a healthy spread of backlinks (referrals from other websites to theirs), the Amadeus Orchestra has achieved the impressive feat of appearing at the top of Google’s rankings when someone searches for “hire an orchestra”. This has saved them thousands of pounds in advertising costs in the past decade for the same results (photo by Alastair Merrill Photography).
It’s highly likely you will have seen promoted posts on social media, and it’s very easy to set up and maintain both these and Google Ads.
But the trick is to learn about your audience and target them, optimising your spending by ensuring adverts are shown only to those most likely to consider employing your services. This process takes time, but the more data you gather the more specific you can be – so the less money you waste.
DittonDGM offers a range of advertising services from a quick chat to full cross-platform ad management. Get in touch today with no obligation to find out more.
There are still the more traditional ways to market your group – mailing lists, agency listings, physical adverts (magazines, billboards, trade fairs, etc), radio broadcasts, and others. They all have their place and feed into the top of the marketing funnel, raising awareness and improving your chances of being considered.
There is a varying financial risk to these options and sometimes no clear way of tracking your return on investment. That’s why our time and limited money might be better spent investing in content marketing and limited paid advertising, with a little guidance to help you understand how to get the most out of these strategies. DittonDGM can help in all aspects of marketing your group, helping you stand head and shoulders above the competition – we’d love to hear from you, so get in touch today to start the conversation!
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