The Name of the Game is Contact Acquisition!
Recently I had the honor of hosting a decently-known rock band at our property for an overnighter between stops on their Midwest tour. When they weren’t busy decompressing among the chickens, hammocks and haphazard races on the mini-tractor, we got around to chatting about how tough it is to market a DIY band these days. As I talked to them about the ways we work with Motortrain, and other bands I’ve had the pleasure to help along the way, it all really came back to one thing: Collecting Contact Information!
You see, while I work in country and rock, I came up in a punk scene. We promoted shows the only way dirty, broke, resourceful musicians do. We used word of mouth. Of course that sounds like a copout easy suggestion, but the thing nobody ever says out loud about WoM marketing is that it only works if the words are coming out of the RIGHT mouths, which brings us back to today’s question: How do you make sure the right influencers and superfans know about your show among the sea of invites, event posts, and general social media self-promotional frenzy that is the modern internet? We make sure we have multiple points of contact for every fan, and that not a single show-goer leaves the venue without us collecting a new way to reach out to them. Most DIY bands are already doing this without even realizing it, and by being so passive, they’re missing out on their greatest asset. So let’s get down to it.5 Ways your #DIYband could be doing a better job at #SelfPromotion #Marketing Click To Tweet
Five Ways to Work Content Acquisition
- The Master List: This is my most important tool. I maintain a master list of every fan I ever meet at a show, and include as little or as much as I know about that fan. Name, what show we met at, what town they live in, what merch they bought, etc. Granted, most nights I come away with just a list of first names, but it’s important to keep nonetheless. It comes in handy later.
- Contact Initiation Cards: At every show whoever is working merch hands out cards that have a simple message: “Tag yourself in pictures from tonight’s show at [Facebook address], [Instagram Address] or post your own with hashtag [#bandtag].” This really is my favorite tool in the arsenal. It initiates online communication between the band and fans, which is not only great for keeping fans informed of what the band is doing, it also lets the band build friendships with people and other bands that they might have otherwise only known for one night. No more One-Show-Joe! Now we get to start planning reunions the day after we leave town! Of course, take those handles, usernames, or FB addresses and add them to the Master List!
- The Snail Mail List: Now there are several ways that I go about acquiring the physical mailing addresses of fans that I will keep close-guarded, but for this example, let’s just start with adding the mailing addresses of any fan who orders merch from the bands online store. Add them to the Master List. We like to send out random gift sets, advanced posters for upcoming regional shows, stickers, newsletters, and even quick-note postcards directly to our fans because sometimes you NEED to reach right out of the computer screen or headphones and just start connecting with people in real life. This also helps you get a visual on where to plot your tour routing based on the number of fans in any one area. Your band may be from Denver, but your biggest show-going fanbase might actually be in Dallas. The only way to know is to keep track and keep in contact!
- Text/SMS Numbers: This one is surprisingly tougher. I’ve found that the same people who will give out their home address without batting an eyelash will hold their cell number secret like a combination to the worlds’ largest safe. That’s why IF you get a fan’s cell #, treat it with the utmost respect. NEVER blast mass texts to everyone on your list. Know your message, and message one person at a time with it. Keep it personalized and professional at the same time. These are not booty call numbers either. The best use of the phone # is to make arrangements for pre-show meals, crashpads, or afterparties the week of a show in that fans area. There are many services that let you mask your own number in order to message fans, but I personally love Google Voice. In fact, I use Google Sheets for the Master List, Google Voice for band texting, Gmail for band email management, Google Drive for sharing limited exclusive content… What can I say, I’m a Google Fiend.
- Good old fashioned email: This is a tricky one. When used well, you can reach thousands of fans in an instant. You can match your email campaign to your social media promotions so that you have one cohesive message across all platforms that essentially blankets the web in your self-promotional glory. This is perfect for announcing tours, album releases, website overhauls, online merch sales, and crowdfunding campaigns. While most people rarely open band emails anymore, there are a few things you can do to increase your open rate and click-through rate: Keep your messages to the point. Limit the number of images to reduce email file size. Try sticking to a single desired action for each email. Limit the number of times you use email to reach out to fans to no more than once per week. You can collect email addresses live at shows, have fans email the band as part of a contest, collect addresses from the online store, and have email sign-ups on social sites and on the bands’ official website. Either way, make sure they get added to the Master List!
At the end of the day, all the contact information in the world won’t make a difference unless you learn how to do it right. I’m happy to answer questions or offer help to those who ask, and if you need someone to help build your Master List with what you already have, I’m your gal!