What If I Don’t Have Enough Gigs? – By John Stiernberg

September 14, 2011 by John Stiernberg

HOW TO FINE-TUNE YOUR MARKETING

If you’ve been following the Business Chops series over the past four years, by now you’ve got your stage rig, your vehicle, your support team, and your strategic plan in place. Hopefully you’ve got as much work as you your plan calls for. But what if the gigs aren’t coming in?
Are your competitors getting more work than you? Are referrals not at the level that you hoped? Not sure what to do? This article addresses these issues and recommends three action tips for success.

EVEN GREAT PLAYERS GET IN A SLUMP

Look at your favorite sport and you’ll notice that no team or individual player wins every game or championship. Hitters get in a slump. Golfers miss the cut. Football players get sidelined with injuries. Basketball players can’t seem to make the downtown shots like they used to.
It happens with entertainers too. Bands and musicians may have a hard time following up a hit record or big tour. Movie actors don’t pull at the box office. Best-selling authors have difficulty selling new book projects to publishers. And mobile entertainers’ booking calendars get thin from time to time. You are not alone.

Has it happened to you? Most likely, yes. Business slumps happen to everyone at some point. What’s changed? Is it the economy? Is it your local market? Or is it your brand reputation? Number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers? Check out all of the above to get a handle on your situation.

WHEN THINGS CHANGE

You can’t help but notice when things chance. Slower bookings, declining revenues, fewer new signups to your e-mail list; you get the picture. Some mobile entertainers default to blaming the economy. Have you ever said something like the following to yourself?

They just can’t afford quality entertainment.
I went to a wedding where the couple brought an iPod and a boombox.
I’ve heard that corporate gigs are down because of tighter budgets.

Well, in the 1990s the competition was cassette mixtapes on the boombox, not iPods. Otherwise, I’ve heard all of those excuses for years, well before the economic downturn of 2008 to 2010. Thankfully things are actually better now for mobile entertainers.

Maybe the market has changed and you haven’t. What are you selling today vs. five or ten years ago? How do you promote yourself? Are you aware of what competitors are offering that you don’t? In prior Business Chops articles, we talked about the Seven Links in the Marketing Chain: 1) product strategy, 2) pricing strategy, 3) promotion strategy, 4) place/trade area strategy, 5) sales team strategy, 6) target client profiles, and 7) competitive threats. Does your written marketing plan include all seven links?

Before you blame market conditions, take a fresh look at your marketing plan from a comprehensive viewpoint. The marketing chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Here’s a key point: Somebody’s hiring mobile entertainers in your area. Why don’t they hire you?

FINE-TUNE YOUR MARKETING PLAN

I recommend that you review your marketing plan periodically (at least four times a year) and make adjustments along the way. Here are three suggestions for how to deal with promotion and sales issues.

Action Tip 1: Review and update your promotion plan. Make sure that your brand message is targeted to the kind of clients and gigs that you are looking for NOW, not five years ago. Use a multi-platform promotional approach such as a combination of website, social media, showcase or charity gigs, and publicity. Don’t rely on one outlet to get your message to everyone.

Action Tip 2: Match your promotional budget dollars to your sales plan. If you are spending less than 1% of your gross revenue on promotion, it’s probably not enough. If you spend more than 10%, it’s probably too much.

Action Tip 3: Promote “new and now.” Remember the slump analogy? Don’t dwell on past successes (or failures). Just like fans of athletes and entertainers, your prospective clients want to know what new services or concepts you are offering now. Positive messages will re-focus their attention and bring in new sales leads and inquiries.

HERE’S THE POINT…

Everyone gets in a slump once in a while. The most successful mobile entertainers recognize danger signals early and respond with fresh marketing plans. Often only minor tweaks are required to achieve a big payoff.

Be sure to implement the Action Tips in sequence: 1) update your marketing plan, 2) invest the right amount in promotion, and 3) promote what’s “new and now.”

Next issue we’ll talk about looking ahead and planning for success. In the meantime, best wishes for success in mobile entertainment in 2011!

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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.


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