File Under: Marketing Your Music

Recently, we did a talk at Chicago's 2112 and Fort Knox Studios which brought musicians, producers, label heads, and managers from around the city together. The question of building a fan following came up. When we asked them, "who's your target audience?" we got the typical answer: "Everyone." Really? Everyone? Senior citizens? 5-year olds? Is it worth it for you to market your music in retirement homes and daycare centers? One of the paradoxes of marketing is to grow your audience, you need to narrow it. And there's a specific technique that can help you narrow your target audience.

Many musicians have a skewed view of marketing thanks to Hollywood and it's blockbuster movies. Marketing for big budget movies are everywhere: billboards, radio interviews, web banner ads, magazine ads, posters, ads at bus stops, late night talk show interviews with the actors, and more. But these blockbuster campaigns are expensive, so they're the exception, not the rule. Most of the world doesn't have these budgets and instead target their campaigns to specific audiences and demographics. The good news is you can use these same techniques.

Besides using current trends to market your music, the key to success with marketing is in limiting the audience members that you market to. Doing so allows you to create targeted messages that are so closely tuned to what that specific audience member cares about. Also, by narrowing your audience, you're more likely to know exactly where they're hanging out. So, instead of throwing your message "out there" like a grenade, you can target those places where they are. This focus can save money, time, and energy, while improving results since you're targeting the right audience in the right places.

To do this, follow these steps:

1. Determine who your audience is.

If you already have your music out there, you can use the statistics tools of the platforms you're on to find out more about who your listeners already are. If you not out there yet, and you don't have one in mind, you should target people like you and use your own background to help you target your message.

2. Create personas for each audience.

Marketing professionals use a technique of creating a persona that you can use for your own marketing. This isn't the same as the persona you create for your own marketing. Instead, it's a tool to describe the typical member of a slice of audience you're trying to reach. Personas are best thought of as a fictional person with a profile that's based on the typical members of that audience. Marketers usually use a real picture to really make it concrete and to give a face to the fictional person.

For example, a persona for your target audience might be people in their mid-twenties. After some research -- use the same research method we talk about here as a way to jump-start this -- here's some of what your persona could look like:

Name: Brad Callum

Age: 26
Gender: Male
Income: $42,000/yr
Location: Urban
Education: Bachelor's degree
Marital Status: Single
Kids: None
Interests/Hobbies: Soccer, Going to live music
Real-World Hangouts: Music Venues, Weekend soccer matches, viewings for Soccer matches at bars.
Online Hangouts: Reddit (music and soccer subreddits), Facebook, Instagram

Most marketers create three to six personas based on the audience segments they're trying to understand and cover. You should start with your main audience, but you should create other personas representing other slices of your audience. This will help you market to each of them separately.

The above "Brad Callum" persona is simply an example. Feel free to add other categories to research and think on where it suits your music and goals. For example, you can add: what they value (environment, free time), brands they like, brands they hate, what angers them, and so on. Knowing more about the target audience's general attributes will help you with the next step.

3. Use the personas to create a marketing campaign.

Personas aren't a destination in and of themselves, they're a tool. Once you have your personas, you then use it to help you think through the messages you'll be using that will resonate with them as well as the communication methods and channels that will reach them. To do this, you'll want to things like craft an elevator pitch and message that appeals directly to each of the personas you created, figure out the best way to speak their language so the message resonates, or come up with a marketing campaign plan that targets the real-world and online hangouts you've identified they hang out at.

This technique is not just used by marketers. It's also used in the new world of design, including software, hardware, and service design. Designers use personas as a starting point from which they'll design a product or service so it considers the customer's experience as they decide how to craft a message that they'll respond to. When designers create experiences (via a product or service), they talk in shorthand using these personas. For example, "Edith would hate standing in line long and will want some free coffee, but Max wants to meet people, connect, and dance". This means you can use the personas you make for your audience to help you think through how you put together a live show. It could also influence what you write about in your music, similar to how authors sometimes like to picture their audience as they're writing.

The more you understand the people you're trying to touch with your music, the more likely you'll reach more of them and expose them to your music experience.

Challenge: Create a persona and use it to create a single targeted marketing message.


#marketing #targeting #persona

Photo credit: Hans Splinter