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John Waghorn

What Small Businesses Can Learn from the Online Promotion of Local Bands

14th Dec 2012 Brand | 2 Comments


As the lead singer and guitarist of a local band, Welcome Pariah, I, like many other musicians out there, know how hard it can be to make a sustaining impression in the music industry. However, I also understand the significance and power that the Internet can provide in helping to get your name out there and get your music heard across the globe. But where do you start?

Since joining Koozai in 2011 I’ve learnt a thing or two when it comes to online marketing. It is an ever evolving process; one that I have to constantly track and adapt to within my role as Content Marketing Executive. When thinking about ideas for this blog post, I started to wonder if I could use the band and relate it to other areas of online marketing. As a result, I began to realise that if I can promote my band online with very little budget, businesses can do the very same with their own brands too.

In order for this process to become a little easier, you just need to have some decent stories to tell and relevant content to share. So the following tips are not only applicable to any bands or musicians looking to promote their content, but also to any small to medium sized businesses looking to capitalise from digital marketing.

Bands and Businesses

There is a clear distinction between the nature of how bands and businesses operate and what they are selling. For us, we don’t as yet have a physical copy of our product to sell. In other words, you can’t buy our music online and you can’t buy a CD. However, promotion for us at this stage of the game is hugely important. By promoting our product (the music), we are able to get our name out there, encourage industry personalities to come to shows, gain fans and show the world what we’re about. In essence, online marketing is vital to us.

Businesses should have the same mentality. By embracing all that the online world has to offer, they can also create brand awareness, encourage people to visit their store or website, gain loyal customers and promote their identity, at little, if any cost at all. Failing to act on promotion will only place a business behind their competitors, which is far from ideal given that they are looking to create revenue. So how can bands promote their content online and how can businesses follow suit?

Social Media: Engaging with the Community

Bands – Social media has been pivotal for Welcome Pariah. We are set up on Twitter and Facebook and these are the main platforms we use online. These have both helped massively and it doesn’t take long to realise where your audience is. For us, we use these sites in the same way, although Twitter is much better when connecting with industry folk. Facebook works well here too, but I feel like it’s more effective at connecting with fans and followers. I guess this is due to how the sites work, their distinctions and how they have evolved.

We use social profiles to post gig posters, share upcoming events, connect with promoters, journalists and other bands and to post some of our latest work for followers to listen to. From securing slots at the Ocean Colour Scene After Party, supporting Paul Weller’s right-hand man Steve Cradock and getting festival dates, we’ve got social to thank. The effort we made online enabled us to develop as a band and gain more media attention off-line.

Businesses – Again, just like bands, businesses should be using social media. With more emphasis on social signals, sites like Facebook and Twitter will help to build brand identity and create online relevance for your brand name. This can have a knock-on effect on your rankings in the search engines too. To broaden your reach, businesses may want to consider using Facebook and Twitter to start off with and maybe extend to Google+ once they are comfortable with how social works. Whichever method fits, just make sure you’re actively using social.

In the case of Welcome Pariah, the more you use social, you will start to realise what works best for different forms of promotion. To start with, why not promote new products, a business partnership, company news and events and competitions. If you are just starting out, you can view how quickly you build followers and this allows you to easily engage with the community you create.

The Power of Video

Bands – Another powerful and influential medium is to use video to promote your products. At this stage, we’ve only recorded two professional tracks in the studio, one of which, Liberty Pill was placed on YouTube along with a still backing image. With 668 views, it’s not making a massive impact, but it does give us something to send to promoters that’s a little more creative, along with other live videos too.

We’ve showcased our songs, demos, live recordings and interviews by using video and it gives people a chance to see the physical side of the music in greater detail. With a professional video on the way, we are trying to push ourselves on this platform as it can make all the difference in how you are perceived.

Businesses – A lot of businesses neglect the power of video. Those who are looking to use it need to get hold of some recording equipment, a decent camera and editing software before making their own videos. If you’re not sure what to create, start by recording guides on the latest products, tips and advice videos like we do here at Koozai, or interviews with a figurehead in the industry. In the same way that people may watch a band and start to follow them, customers who have received useful visual information may start to buy into a company’s products or take an interest in their services. This is an easy way to draw attention to what it is that you are selling and encourage people to maintain interest.

Press and the Media

Bands – If something is worth shouting about, then share it with the media. One way we have achieved write-ups in local newspapers and online press is by creating press releases for different events. Once you’ve written a PR you can fire it out to press contacts. If you gain press coverage then you’ve got a result, and if nothing comes off the back of it then at least you are getting your name out there in the meantime.

Businesses – If, for example, your company is going through a major restructure, or a new manager is taking over then a press release can be used in the same way. If you are actively looking for press coverage and you have a decent story to share, try and get in the media. It doesn’t have to be ground-breaking news, so long as its original content and you think the story has a chance of being featured. Online PR has huge benefits for building brand awareness.

Blogger Outreach

Bands- As a follow on from the above PR section, another way to garner online media interest is to supply blog writers with free tickets to a gig in order to encourage them to do a write up of the event at a later date. These familiarisation trips are perfect for getting your music heard by relevant people who can translate their thoughts on their online blog and giving something to them in return – free tickets.

Businesses – In a similar vein, this is just as important to businesses. Ok, so you wouldn’t invite someone to the office to see how you carry out your work, but you could conduct blogger outreach and provide a guest blog for another site. If the site has high authority then it could have the potential to drive traffic to your site and increase converions.

Website

Bands – Welcome Pariah don’t have a website and your initial thought might be to question why this is the case. From our point of view, we feel that a website would be another area to maintain and as social is one of the main ways people find out about bands, at present it’s not something we desperately need. Maybe in the future we will have a fully functional site, although our main traffic drivers are social at this stage and people know where they can find us. Also, due to our name, we rank top for our social sites too.

This doesn’t mean to say that this applies for all bands, as you might want to get your site up-and-running first before you tackle social. A website can be very useful, but it depends on how you want to go about promoting your band and maintaining your site. The main benefit is that a website will act as a central hub of information for everything band related.

Businesses – For businesses, I’d argue that this is completely different. Unlike bands, for a business the first place you are likely to go and find out about them is a search engine. As a result, all businesses should have a fully functional and up-to-date website. If this is well-maintained then it can start to build strength, generate rankings and really drive sales. As businesses are selling products or services, a website is crucial in telling customers who they are and what they can offer. Due to this, I’d say it’s vital for every business to have a website.

Reaching a Bigger Audience

Bands – It might be possible to place your music on Spotify, iTunes, Last.fm and other bigger music hosting sites. By doing so, you will reach a much larger audience and your music will have a chance of being picked up fairly quickly.

Businesses – Although the platform will be different, there are sites such as Amazon, where you could look to sell your products. It might be the case that you want to join a partnership or find bigger sites to host some of your products on whilst in the early stages of development until you gain your own recognition.

Email Marketing and Testimonials

In both cases, email marketing is an easy way to send out a relevant message to a large number of contacts. However, it might be wise to establish a long list of contacts first either at a gig or at a business/conference event and then begin writing your newsletters via email. This is something that bigger bands do, but there’s no reason to say that local bands and businesses can’t get the wheels in motion during their early years.

Positive feedback is always nice to receive, so as a business why not use customer and client testimonials on your site. In the same way, bands can use quotes from press and industry contacts. This makes others feel assured and helps them to find a connection with your band or brand.

Summary

The internet is pivotal in promoting your content. From PR and videos, to engaging on social and maintaining your website, the online world can offer both bands and businesses a great deal of value. In the examples that I have used, some methods may apply more to local businesses rather than local bands and vice-versa. But this alone gives you an indication of what both could be doing online in order to capitalise.

You might not always get the results you intended when working within the realms of online promotion, but it all has a knock-on effect, whilst at the same time you are building your brand and making a name for yourself. See how you are promoting your band or brand and work out what more you could be doing.

 

Thumbnail band image from Bigstock

Social media image from Bigstock

Blog image from Bigstock

 

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About the author

John Waghorn

John works as a Content Marketing Executive at Koozai. With previous experience in PR, he helps the team by writing a range of client content including press releases, guest blog posts and website copy. He is also a regular contributor to the Koozai blog.

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