Learn the guitar with a touch of class



December 27, 2013

Know your customer to know success

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Written by: jay

I’m hoping that this won’t bring some of you back to your old boss, whether it be at a fast food restaurant or a music retail store, but I’ve got to say – this is one of the most important pieces of knowledge you can know in your music career. You need to know your customer if you want to know success, and it might not be exactly what you think.

So let’s start with the basics – selling CD’s, concert tickets, merchandise etc. It seems obvious but this is often overlooked by musicians who are often a little out of touch with the marketing and business side of things, but in order to sell something, you first need to know what it is that they want. Is there any point getting CD’s printed if most of your customers only want Vinyl or digital download? Is there any point getting baseball caps printed with your logo on it when your fedoras are all the rage amongst your fans these days. It goes without saying, but it pays off to go and talk to people and be in touch with your scene. As we know, music is a cultural experience, and is more than just the notes you play on your guitar. Music is about being on the pulse of a movement, an idea, a feeling, or a lifestyle. You are saying more than just what you sing on stage. Knowing what it exactly that your fans want both musically and business wise can be the difference of making it big or not. Likewise, if you order too much of the wrong merchandise, or even worse, present the wrong ideas or image to your fans, you risk doing irreparable damage.

As I alluded to earlier in this article, this idea goes further than just selling things to people. It is an important life skill when it comes to getting contracts signed, getting a job to finance your music lifestyle, and even just getting friends and colleagues to like and respect you. You need to be able to understand what it is that people want in order to break down obstacles in peoples minds which might hamper your chances of getting a green light on things. And there is one obstacle in particular which comes up again and again…


Now I’m not going to go on and tell you to put fear in people’s minds to sell things. No way. That’s the kind of marketing that makes marketing taboo. I believe in ‘white hat’ marketing, or in plain English, marketing which is honest and provides value to the world. Marketing can be as simple as doing a gig at your local to gain exposure, or as deliberate as building a social media following, but you need to find out and address the one thing which stops people from doing things. Which is, again, fear.

Fear is a stopper of all things good, and if you’ve got a product you’re proud enough to sell, whether it be your music, your time, or your advice, then chances are their fears can be put at ease. Take a photocopier salesman for example. If you were an office manager buying a photocopier what would your fears be. Firstly, it would have to be price. Secondly, it would be paper jams. And thirdly, you might consider the ongoing costs of servicing it and running it. Somebody could build a photocopier which addresses all of these things, and yet, very few may buy it. This is, however, where good marketing comes in. The salesman will identify these three fears, and then communicate to the manager how, actually, the price is cheaper than that of other photocopiers, it has a new anti-jamming paper spool, and only needs to be serviced once per year. Suddenly the fears which the manager have had are magically resolves and the superior photocopier is sold. Take that concept and apply it now to your music or your career. What are the fears which are stopping your local hiring you for a gig? What fears are stopping the indie record label from signing you up? If you’ve already addressed these fears then communicate to them that you have. If you havn’t then sort them out and become a better and more hire-able band. Be the better photocopier.

Cater to their hopes and dreams.

Another excellent marketing message which is often twisted into evil is to cater to your customer/employer/record label’s hopes and dreams. Could you be the band that makes them rich? Could you be the one who is getting the political message heard that nobody else could? Or how about the band which will put them on the map as a talent manager? If you can cater for somebodies hopes and dreams, you will be much more successful than if you just stay at home and hope things work out. Again, you need to be the one who will make this happen.

How do I find out?

The classic method of finding these things out is to do a good old fashioned survey, whether it be a written one or just some questions you can ask. It is important, though, to stay in an appropriate format to keep your customers relaxed and not suspicious. To do this, firstly you must choose your format wisely. Perhaps an internet survey will do the trick, paid or otherwise. Maybe a clipboard, pen, and thick rimmed glasses will be fine for your target market. Otherwise, just talking to patrons at the venue you want to perform at and then sneaking off to write down their answers. An important thing to remember, though, is never try to sell to your survey participants. As soon as you cross this line then their questions will be regarded as a sales pitch and you will get defensive answers. You want good reliable honest answers to give yourself the true north trajectory which will make you a better band.

True wisdom.

Once you’ve done some adequate research you will start to become the industry expert you want to be. Knowledge is power. You will know where to be and when. What to say, and what not to say. You will navigate the minefield with agility and precision. But finally, what you will realise, is that it’s all about becoming a better product. Marketing is only an evil force when it’s used to push an inferior or dangerous product. Remember the photocopier example? If your product is the best product on the market, then telling people about it becomes a noble and ethical exercise. Through research you will have developed yourself to become a better musician, a better businessman, a better artist, and a better person.


About the Author




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