Think of the coolest marketing campaign you’ve ever seen. It can be something your favorite band did, a campaign your favorite clothing company ran, or a contest put on by the local diner for their 25th anniversary. Whatever it is, think about what made it stand out, why it captured your imagination, and why you still hold onto it.
Odds are, it’s not because they ran some mediocre ad campaign or shoved the same generic t-shirt design in your face. It’s because they did something that spoke directly to you and what you believe in. They used their brand and their message to tap into what it is that matters most to you—their fan/follower/customer—and because of that, you were able to really grasp onto it, and it left an impression.
Anyone can create an ad, put out a new piece of merch, or play a show. The real power is in creating an experience that’s so valuable to your fans that they not only remember it, but they want to share it with all their friends.
So how do you make sure your next promo strategy is worth remembering?
Get in front of your fans (where they hang out)
As with any marketing, the idea is to get in front of your fans in the places they’re already hanging out, rather than expecting them to come to you. For this, grassroots marketing is still one of the best methods—especially when it’s on the local level. The idea of putting flyers or cards or CDs in the places your fans frequent is nothing new—but this approach is often lost in the digital age.
While the internet offers a lot of options for connecting with a wide range of fans across the world, there’s something to be said for connecting with your immediate community. Take some time to really understand where your existing (and potential) fans hang out and then put yourself in those places. This might mean requesting to play your local bookshop if that’s where they are, or leaving a download card in the community coffee shop. It can also mean partnering with those local spaces to take it a step further, like hosting an acoustic night at the book store, or a writer’s night at the coffee shop.
Sponsor something you believe in
Here’s an activity for you: Try to brainstorm 2-3 things that you really, truly believe in. If you’ve already done your homework on what your brand is, this should be a pretty simple assignment. If you’re struggling, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and get hyper-clear on what your brand is. That’s the foundation to everything else you do from here on out so make sure you don’t skip that step.
Once you know your brand and can identify what 2-3 things you believe in (that align with your brand), start seeking out opportunities and other brands that reflect that. For instance, if you’re all about being environmentally conscious, see about sponsoring or getting a booth at, (or just attending and networking at) a local sustainability festival. You could also find a clothing company that creates products from renewable resources and offers to wear their clothes on stage or in your videos or promo photos.
Start a podcast
Does everyone have a podcast today? Sure they do. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start one, especially if your heart skipped a beat when you read that headline. Starting a podcast is a lot of work and it can be easy to put a ton of pressure on yourself to get it all “just right” before pushing forward, but the truth is even something kind of scrappy to start with, just to test the concept, is worth trying out. Especially if the thought of it excites you.
While your podcast can and should be about anything that lights you up, this works best when it aligns with your brand. It could be music related, like the band’s take on that week’s genre related news, or it can be about something non-music related, but aligned with your brand.
Run a contest
A classic method of bonding with fans and promoting your band in a creative way, running a contest has been a longtime staple for a reason. It’s an instant hit with fans, who love the chance to be involved, and it usually results in something new and creative for you, like album art or a t-shirt design. It gives you a chance to bond with fans, expand your reach, and have something concrete to show for it (and for fans to share), all at once.
Last but certainly not least, don’t be afraid to get a little unconventional. Think less about what others have done (though that’s a great place to start brainstorming) and instead think about what makes the most sense for you and your fans.
Ask yourself: who are my fans? What do they like? What do they respond best to on our social media and at our shows?
Create an experience that’s 100% designed for them and with their needs and desires in mind, and you’ll notice a huge difference in engagement, response, and long-term results.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.