Marketing professionals love to talk about how complicated their trade is. They’re not lying, but they’re not telling you the whole truth. The variety of marketing strategies, channels, and methods for raising your brand’s profile can make you dizzy.
But the whole truth is you don’t have to swallow the whole toad all at once. Taking it in bite-sized chunks will make it a lot less intimidating.
Here are a couple of ways to get your marketing off the ground.
- Take baby steps. Musicians don’t start playing the violin with Paganini’s “God Save the King.” Beginners start with individual notes, then advance to scales, simple songs, more complicated music, and so forth. Same with marketing. Don’t let the marketing gurus befuddle you with terms like geotargeted backlink campaign, revising your metatags, and SEO audits. That’s Paganini stuff. Marketing beginners start at the beginning—research.
- What do you know? You began your marketing research even before you started your music business. You investigated the market and decided there was sufficient demand for your service or product. You sized up the competition, and their marketing and advertising to see how you could put some distance between them and you. You may have found you could carve out a niche by filling a demand that others weren’t. See, marketing isn’t that complicated. All you have to do is look around and ask questions.
- Who are you? Part of your pre-launch research should have included finding reasons to call your business what you’ve decided to call it. If you didn’t do that research, go back and take a look at what you know about the market and what kind of names will resonate with it. Don’t take this step too lightly because it’s a lot more involved down the road to change the name of your business. If you’re a solo performer, you’ll probably go by your name. Maybe. Reginald Dwight had all the talent in the world, but Elton John looked better on the marquee. Your business name is an important marketing tool.
If you’re opening a retail music store or other type of music business, you’ll want to choose a name that’s ideally easy to remember, easy to pronounce (don’t underestimate this one), and reflects your brand qualities and characteristics. And while it is the “Guitar” Center, it’s brand was sufficiently well established that it could also offer other instruments, instruction, repairs, and equipment.
- What’s your look? Your business should have a style that stands out. The logo tells a lot of the story. The mermaid on the paper cup: Starbucks. The swoosh: Nike. Hot lips: the Rolling Stones. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good logo. Websites like Fiverr and Upwork provide tons of designers that can design a logo for you at a very reasonable cost. In a retail environment, you’ll need appealing visuals that contribute to a pleasant shopping experience. That includes placing popular closer to the entrance, at eye level on shelves, and on endcaps. If you have a website (if you don’t, get one), make sure it functions well, stays within your brand’s visual standards, and looks great.
- What are you talking about? Word of mouth is one of the most-cost effective, credible forms of marketing there is. A friends’ recommendation can carry more weight than all the advertising you can imagine. Get the ball rolling yourself. Don’t be shy. Talk up your business! Share your story with customers at the counter, friends and family, people standing in line with you.
Beware of becoming a conversational narcissist, though. Think of how a sharp realtor works word-of-mouth. She talks passionately, but not incessantly about her career, deals that are in the works, how many she’s closed. But she listens, too, and that’s as important to free advertising as anything else. It’s not always about closing.
- How social are you? Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and all the other social media platforms are top-of-mind considerations in marketing. But where to begin. Research! Look at other music business websites and their social media presence. In general, business websites link out to their social media accounts, so that you learn what platforms they use and messages they are posting to them.
- How do you get around? Retargeting is one of those advanced strategies that might need a professional marketer to shape up for you. But it’s something you can keep an eye out for while doing your basic research. What it is, essentially, is functionality that notices when you stop by a business website and then follows you around with online ads. The ecommerce giants (Amazon, I’m looking at you) are notorious practitioners: If you look at a widget but don’t buy, you’ll start seeing that widget everywhere you go online. It’s not magic; it’s retargeting.
Marketing builds on itself. Like most endeavors, it’s better to do a few things well than a lot of things half-baked. With marketing, the better you are with the basics, the easier and more effective you’ll be in cultivating more advanced strategies to develop your business and increase sales in the future. No new business owner starts off as a virtuoso in marketing. But note by note, beautiful marketing music will be made!