3 things musicians can learn from brands about Customer Relationship Management

by Mariana on November 26, 2012 · Comments

This guest post from Mark Knight explores ‘Customer Relationship Management’ (CRM) to show how the principles can help independent artists promote their music more effectively. As founder of Right Chord Music, a management and consultancy business, Mark calls upon his 12 years of experience working as a music marketing consultant to brands like Coca-Cola, Nokia & T-Mobile, plus his seven years as an artist manager for independent artists.

In the business world, a whole industry has been established around ‘customer relationship management’ or CRM. Fancy acronym, but what’s it really mean and how does it apply to you and your music career? In basic terms, CRM is a plan to understand and manage a brand’s relationship with customers. Using technology, this can get pretty complex, but really CRM efforts all stem from three goals:

  • Identify, attract and win new customers
  • Retain existing customers
  • Re-invigorate relationships with former customers

It doesn’t take a genius to realise there are clear parallels between the value of CRM for a brand or business and CRM for a band or artist. In order to have a successful music career (“business”) you need to have fans (“customers”). And those fans won’t come unless you work hard for it. Below are some details on just what I mean, but first I want you to keep in mind two widely accepted business principles:

  1. Pareto’s 80:20 rule suggests 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.
  2. Winning new business from existing customers is cheaper than winning new business from new customers.

Okay, that said, here is how a musician or a band can apply the 3 CRM goals to their music career to develop better relationships with their fans:

1.  Identify, attract and win new fans and supporters

Most independent artists don’t have money to spend on ‘push’ advertising or PR to reach a mass audience. Your best chance of success lies in ‘pull’ marketing where you supply your fans with compelling content and they promote you to their networks. Your ultimate audience is not your ‘Friends;’ it’s the ‘Friends of your friends.’ If you can burst out of your network into each of theirs, your potential audience will suddenly rocket. So encourage and incentivise them to share your posts. Reverb Tip: Online tools like Band Profile on Facebook and Promote It have built-in abilities for social expansion.

Remember the second principle: It’s cheaper to win new business from existing customers, than win new business from new customers. So use your existing ‘Friends’ as advocates.

2.  Successfully retain existing fans and supporters

On social media: Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself why you are growing a fanbase on Facebook or Twitter. Many bands seem to spend all their waking hours collecting new ‘Likes’ and ‘Followers’ but never interact with any of them.

Facebook uses a system called Edgerank to prioritise the news in your feed. If you don’t interact with you fans you’ll become invisible very quickly. So when a new ‘Like’ or ‘Follower’ arrives, you have work to do. This is important: social media quantity should always go hand in hand with quality. Without engagement those ‘Likes’ quickly become meaningless.

With mailing lists: Mailing lists are another key tool for retaining fans, but only if you use them in a smart way. Lazy mail-outs containing a summary of old news are pointless. Set rules for your mail-outs: “I will only ever contact fans when I can reward them, or offer them something exclusive.” “I will never just repeat news I’ve posted on Facebook.” Reverb Tip: The tool FanReach has made it very easy for emerging artists to grow their fanbase through newsletters. Check it out >>

Always be critical of the communication you send. If it doesn’t genuinely interest or excite you, why would anyone else care? You don’t build relationships by spamming people.

Finally, don’t forget to ‘Surprise’ & ‘Delight’ your fans; it’s a proven brand tactic to retain interest. How about you surprise the next three fans that contact you on Twitter with a free t-shirt or free remix?

Also, you should be able to personally name your biggest fans. Who are the people that engage with you the most on Facebook? Who are the people that come to all of your shows? Who buys your music? By identifying these advocates you can start to create tailored rewards to encourage continued support. You could offer exclusive previews for a select group of top fans.

3.  Reinvigorate relationships with former fans and supporters

Make full use of the analytics provided to you by Facebook and YouTube. If you don’t already know, take time to find out (learn more about Facebook Insights and YouTube Analytics):

Picard engage meme

Do like Capt. Picard: engage.

Find out which 10 Facebook posts had:

  • The greatest ‘Reach’ in the past three months
  • The most ‘Engaged Users’
  • Were the ‘Most talked about’
  • The highest levels of ‘Virality’

What are your most engaging (based on % of video watched) videos on YouTube?

Next, note down the commonalities to identify what an engaging post looks like. E.g.,

  • Posted on a Monday morning
  • Personal, warm friendly style
  • Contain a question
  • Include a good quality photo
  • Contains a video

Once you understand the rules of engagement you can repeat the trick, and hopefully win back some of the people who have switched off in response to your less engaging posts.

Bonus tip: Get organised.

Create a basic Excel database, to collect and manage your relationships. Start with a separate tab for:

  • Artists
  • Blogs
  • Labels
  • Promoters
  • Publishers
  • Radio stations

Then whenever you come across a new contact, add their key details: Name, Company, Job Title, Email, Phone.

These 3 additional details take this from being a flat database into an active, useful CRM tool:

  • When: Date last contacted
  • Why: Reason for last contact
  • What: Outcome of last contact

Keeping a track of when, why and what ensures you can tailor your response and follow up in the most appropriate way, only sharing information which is relevant to them.

Don’t be afraid to follow up. If someone really has no interest they will tell you so. Don’t assume a non-reply is a no; it is often just a sign they are busy or disorganized. As a blogger I welcome reminders “Have you had a chance to check out our track yet?” Often a reminder will be enough to guarantee you a review (if the music is great).

A little thought and planning can really help improve the effectiveness of your fan communication, so don’t be in a rush to promote until you are ready. How about you? Have you tried any of these goals before? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

Mark Knight can be reached at his Twitter account @RightChordMusic.

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  1. [...] Knight founder of Right Chord Music in an article 3 things musicians can learn from brands about Customer Relationship Management suggests that CRM efforts all stem from three [...]

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