Go ahead and disagree with me; musicians make great marketers. When it comes to marketing their music, they usually get bogged down in tactics and forget why they do what they do, trying too hard to be “businesslike” or do the things they read about on the majority of marketing blogs- at least that’s been my own personal experience as a musician.
Musicians create and retell stories through song. This includes instrumental music, because storytelling isn’t about imparting information. Storytelling is about imparting emotions.
And, in my biased opinion, the arts are far better at imparting emotion than any other marketing tool. The process of making music, even playing another person’s music, is a practice in empathy. Empathy is the key to understanding your audience. In practice, it’s really difficult to tell your boss that you’re trying to empathize with your audience. It’s a lot easier to say “there’s a 10% increase in clickthroughs,” but that’s really just a consequence of their decision making process. Knowing why someone does something is far more valuable than knowing what they did.
When we know why someone takes an action, we can replicate that action. We can even nudge it into a different direction.
At a very basic level, humans are wired to do just a few things, called the “lizard brain” or the five Fs:
These basic instincts feed our emotions: anger, joy, sadness, fear, and so on.
Much further up the brain stem, the “rational brain” comes up with extremely complicated, and sometimes conflicting, ways of rationalizing these emotions. Why did I eat myself sick on tacos? I only need 2000 calories and whatever nutrients a day. But I like them.They’re delicious. They make me feel happy. I have a feeding instinct (notice how these get less socially acceptable to say in public the deeper we go).
Why did I buy a Subaru? There are cheaper cars, with better or similar safety ratings, with all-wheel drive and similar features.
Traditional marketing says: I saw enough Subaru advertisements, maybe heard a good thing from someone I know, and realized that Subaru had the best compromise between price and features.
Authentic marketing says: I was never good with cars, and it was a point of embarrassment for me growing up. I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in and would die hungry and alone (lizard brain). I really wasn’t good at a lot of things and I lacked self-confidence (rationalization). When I got my first Subaru, I was able to teach myself how to work on it, and now I completely understand cars and how to work on them. Subaru gave me self-confidence (emotion).
Traditional marketing says I bought a Subaru because I’m a male between 21 and 34 with a certain income level and other demographic/sociographic characteristics.
Authentic marketing says I bought a Subaru because I believe in feeling confident about myself. There are more like me.
The traditional marketing approach is good for reaching broad groups of people, which works when you haven’t defined your target market. Authentic marketing requires a much deeper understanding of your audience, a much more narrow segmentation, and a personal touch.
That’s something musicians are great at. The right song at the right time can tear your heart out, even if you’ve never met the singer before. So how do we have that same effect on our clients?
Gretchen Fox of [made to order] said (paraphrased), “every time you post, you have the opportunity to speak your values.” Music is a good way to send a message that resonates with an audience, but it takes years and years of practice. So why do so many businesses think they can throw their youngest employee onto Twitter and call it a day?
Like music, every interaction you have with your clients is an opportunity to tell your story, speak your values, and show your clients that you care for them. This too requires years and years of practice. If you run a hospital, you probably aren’t going to hire your doctors from a culinary school. You definitely wouldn’t say, “Jimmy here is always in and out of the hospital. He uses it a lot, so he must be a good doctor.” Use does not equal mastery! The same is true for social media, not to mention other marketing tactics and strategies.
On the other hand, many business owners I speak with have been doing their marketing for years, some quite successfully. But just as great athletes have coaches, business owners too ought to keep an open mind about where and how they can improve upon their skills.
Ok, that’s it for now. Get out there and sing your song. And if you have questions, send me an email: email@example.com