If you want to be smart about promoting your band and your shows, you need to measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
The opinions expressed are mine only. These opinions do not necessarily reflect anybody else’s opinions. I do not own, operate, manage, or represent any band, venue, or company that I talk about, unless explicitly noted.
I do NOT subscribe to the notion that “if it can’t be measured, it doesn’t exist.” I think there’s all kinds of room for things that are experienced, undertaken, and managed at an intuitive level. There isn’t a single thing wrong with saying, “this seems to be working really well, so let’s go with it.”
At the same time, though, I’m a proponent of quantifying things when there’s freedom to do so. This freedom seems to come along after you get to a certain comfort level.
Sometimes, a DIScomfort level.
You get to a point where things either seem to be working, or they seem to not be working, and you get a second to step back, scratch the ol’ noggin, and try to suss out the whys and wherefores. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in an artistic, technical, or business discipline – you eventually reach a state of needing (or wanting) to get at some underlying science.
You know. Numbers. Stats. Correlations.
When it comes to doing promo for your band’s recordings and shows, I’m of the opinion that it’s better to start figuring out the numbers early. If nothing else, being willing to take “the hard look” at what’s working and what isn’t can save you both money and effort in the long run – and who doesn’t want to have more cash and more free time?
De-mystifying Advertising Analytics
When I say the word “analytics,” it may be pretty intimidating. I’m a pretty tech and science savvy dude, and it was a touch intimidating to me when I hadn’t really gotten into it. The reality, though, is that being analytical about your promo comes down to one basic concept:
Each piece of your promotion should have some way to unambiguously self-report on its effectiveness.
Okay. Let’s rewind.
Think about some ads that you’ve seen lately, especially if they were in some “traditional media” channel. It doesn’t matter what they were for. Did the promo say anything about “mention this ad and [some reward will be offered to you]?”
If the answer was yes, then the advertisement was set up to self-report on its effectiveness. The advertiser offered a special incentive for a customer to mention that specific ad campaign, with the goal being to keep track of how many people actually mention the ad. If a ton of people mention the ad and claim the incentive (“Two For One!” or whatever) then the advertiser knows that – at some level – the ad campaign was effective in reaching an audience. Either the tallied number of people saw the ad and responded, or a smaller number of people saw the ad and passed on the information to their friends.
Now, if they’re really smart, the advertiser will keep track of how much each incentive-claimer bought, and whether or not the aggregate profits offset the cost of the advertising. This is why all the big retailers have reward cards and other ways of invading your privacy. They want to gather as much data as possible, and then correlate your buying habits with their profit and loss statements. In real time, if possible.
I could get into what it means if you answered “no” to the question “Was an incentive offered for mentioning the ad,” but that’s not really germane to this article.
The point is that figuring out whether or not your promo is effective means embedding a measurement strategy in the promo itself.
So…how DO you embed measurement into your promotional efforts?
The most immediate way is to use promo channels that already have measurement and reporting built in. Even at the most basic level, you can make observations about Facebook likes and shares, or Twitter favorites and retweets. You can then compare those numbers to all kinds of different things – when you sent out the Facebook post, what wording you used, when and where the show was scheduled, etc. Counting the number of responses you get is obvious, and I’m sure you already do it. However, you might not already be trying to correlate those “measures of engagement” with the various strategies that you try.
This is all fine and good, but what if you’re trying a promo method that isn’t web-based? For instance, lots of bands post flyers, but I know of very few bands that know if they actually work or not.
Mostly, I think bands post flyers because other bands posted them in the past. It’s a tradition!
This is where an incentive program can come in very handy.
For instance, you could have some special merch (like a free CD and sticker) to give away to anybody who comes to the show and brings a flyer with them. If you’d rather not have people pulling your flyers down, you could also make the same offer for anyone who comes in with a cellphone picture of the flyer.
You do need to be careful that you can afford the incentive. You might need to put a limit on the number of redemptions, if the incentive is relatively “spendy.” (“The first 10 people to bring in a flyer get a free shirt!”) It’s fine to get people in the door with a promo, but if the cost of the campaign outweighs the benefits of a larger audience, then the promotion wasn’t worth it.
You also need to be aware of whether or not your incentive actually focuses on your music, or if it focuses on something else. It’s perfectly fine to make a deal with a venue where people with cellphone pics of your flyer get a discount on a hamburger, but you need to be aware that some folks will take the picture and make the trip only for the food. On the other hand, incentives for band merch and cheaper admission make the promo solely about your band and your show.
Once you have your incentive program operating, you do need to remember to count. At the very least, make a note of how many people took advantage of the incentive and when. (This can be as simple as marking a tally on a sheet of paper with a date at the top.) When you relate this information to other numbers that you already have, you can start to get an objective picture about your different promo activities.
The ultimate goal is to figure out what promotions get attention AND actually make you more money. It’s not that making more money is the only worthwhile goal. It’s that turning a profit is one worthwhile goal among many…
…and measuring your marketing is very helpful in achieving that end.