Low-Cost, High-Impact Promotion By John Stiernberg

December 6, 2012 by John Stiernberg

Last time we talked about measuring the success of your promotional efforts. We established that “what gets measured gets done.” Now let’s go deeper into choosing the promotional tools that are both affordable and effective.
Is publicity really free? Is social media the best way to get my message across? Can a mobile entertainer do a showcase gig without it looking like a free audition? This article addresses these issues and recommends three action tips for success.

THE MYTH OF “FREE” PUBLICITY
One of the common myths of business is that publicity is free. Sure, some media outlets (print, broadcast, online) will pick up a press release from time to time and drive your search engine optimization (SEO) positioning. But that does not necessarily translate into the kind of third-party credibility that real publicity brings.
While there are costs involved (both time and money—see November 2012 article), publicity is a relatively low cost, relatively high impact promotional tool. The challenge is to 1) publicize something that will actually get your target customers’ attention and 2) keep the time/ money investment within your budget.
What are the costs of free publicity? Here are the key line items:
• Build and maintain your contact database
• Write, produce, and distribute press releases, backgrounders, and collateral material
• Build and maintain your website and social media presence (Facebook for fans and buyers, LinkedIn for event planners, agents, and institutional clients)
• Monitor activity including website visits, wall postings, and sales inquiries
• Follow up (what a concept!) on leads, thank you notes, and results tracking

“But I do all that myself.” Oh really? Are you better at promotion or are you better at doing gigs as a performer? How do you want to be positioned? And do you have the time to do a thorough job? It is likely that you will need to engage and pay professional service providers in order to have a sustainable promotional presence that turns into more gigs and higher revenue. Here’s the point. While integrated publicity and promotion is affordable and effective, it is not free.

EVENTS ARE NEWSWORTHY, CHARITY EVENTS PUSH BUTTONS
Here’s an example of a promotion that integrates 1) a showcase charity gig, 2) local broadcast media, and 3) your online tools:
Your local television news team is unlikely to send a camera crew to your showcase at a wedding planners conference. However, they may cover a charity event tied to a good cause. Examples include anything tied to 1) children, 2) senior citizens, and 3) health. So let’s say that the local hospital is staging a fundraiser for childhood cancer research. Who is going to entertain the staff and volunteers? Is there a telethon involved? Are there photo/video opportunities?
Your performance at this type of event puts you in the spotlight and can be publicized. Here are the steps to turning a charity showcase into a brand-builder (assuming you get booked of course):
• Secure permission to invite guests. These can include past, current, and prospective clients. For the hospital (or event host), everyone is a prospective donor or volunteer, so they are likely to say yes.
• Use your Facebook/LinkedIn/website/Evite to invite people to the event.
• Track responses and call people personally to nudge and thank them.
• Get photos and video footage during the gig. Include clips of you performing plus audience reactions. This is prime YouTube material.
• Send the press release after the gig. The real credibility builder is that you did the gig, not that you were thinking about it.

GET STARTED NOW
A charity showcase event is just one example of using the event/media/ follow up approach to low cost promotion. Here are three suggestions for turning a one-off into a sustainable campaign.
Action Tip 1: Identify those charitable organizations in your trade area that are 1) approachable and 2) tie the most closely to your target client base. Depending on your geographical location, there may be more opportunities than you need. This will allow you to be selective. Put the opportunities in priority order before you contact anyone.
Action Tip 2. Design a “best case scenario” event that benefits the organization as well as you and your firm. Be ready to present the concept and the logistics aspects up front. Don’t leave the production details to chance (like AC power to an outdoor presentation space).
Action Tip 3. Do a test. Approach prospective event hosts one at a time (based on your priority list). Once you’ve got a committed event date, think of it as the beta test that will allow you to learn and debug before going on to the next one.

HERE’S THE POINT…

While publicity isn’t free, it can be a powerful low cost promotional tool. Events are relatively simple to publicize via social media. They are especially valuable if you can get video testimonials and live show footage to post online.
Be sure to implement the Action Tips in sequence: 1) create a target list of charitable organizations that stage events, 2) design a best-case event scenario, and 3) do a test gig. Besides learning and promoting, you will also get a good feeling about supporting a worthy cause.
Next time we’ll continue on theme of showcase events tied to publicity and social media. In the meantime, best wishes for success in mobile entertainment in 2012!

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John Stiernberg John Stiernberg (16 Posts)

John Stiernberg is the founder of Stiernberg Consulting (www.stiernberg.com), the premier business development consultancy serving the entertainment technology and music products industry. With over 25 years experience in these fields, he currently works with audio and music companies on strategic planning and market development. His book Succeeding In Music: Business Chops for Performers and Songwriters is published by Hal Leonard Books. Contact John via e-mail at john@stiernberg.com, find him on LinkedIn and Facebook, and follow him at http://twitter.com/JohnStiernberg.


Filed Under: Business, Issue #146, Issues from 2012