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Great! You've Got Their Attention - Now What?

Everyone wants attention. You want it too, right? Of course, you do.

In fact, that’s the first crucial step in marketing: getting people (specifically, your ideal fans) to simply notice you among all the noise and chaos of their busy lives.

It’s such a challenge to get that fleeting hint of attention these days, you probably put most of your “marketing” focus on that aspect alone. That’s why you celebrate every small gain you make in getting Facebook fan page likes, Twitter followers, email subscribers, YouTube views, LinkedIn connections, and more.

You should celebrate those wins. No doubt. But your marketing efforts shouldn’t end there. As I’ve been harping on a lot lately in my live workshops, what’s really important is what you do with attention once you have it.

Getting it is great. People notice you. You appear on their mental radars for a few moments (or minutes, if you’re lucky). Awesome! But then those good people move on to other things and sadly forget about you.

What’s a self-promoting musician to do?

The answer: Build some sort of interactive element or “call to action” into many of the things you post online (including Facebook updates, tweets, videos, audio clips, images, etc).

One example of how this works can be found in a video that guitarist Walt Pitts published on YouTube recently. (Walt is one of only a handful of musicians I do some part-time consulting work for.)

Walt had an idea for a series of videos he would record at home that featured him playing live using a Boss Loop Station, which allows him to play and layer multiple guitar parts live.

Before posting his first video to YouTube, Walt sent me a sample to get my thoughts. Of course, his playing was great. But I noticed right away that he had positioned the camera to shoot vertically, so there were large empty spaces to either side of the frame.

Walt explained that he did it that way to capture everything - from the hat he wears and the guitars on the wall behind him to the footwork of hitting the effects pedals. This was also a good representation of what Walt does when he performs live.

I understood, but all that wasted space on the screen was bugging me. So I encouraged him to create some text and graphics that would use the empty space to let people know who he was and remind them of how to reach him.

Here’s what he came up with:

If I were to get hyper critical, I might make the text and graphics a little less cluttered. But I love the way the description on the left side explains who Walt is and what he does. And at the top right you find a clear call to action that invites people who need a solo guitarist in the Phoenix area to contact him.

This is a smart way to make great use of whatever attention this video gets.

(I also gave Walt the specific words to use in the title, description and tags of this video to help it get “discovered” in searches, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Compare this video treatment to your own music videos - or blog posts, fan page updates, etc. When a potential fan sees your stuff for the first time, do you make it clear who you are and what you do?

Do you have an “engagement objective” (a phrase I just made up) for every piece of content you publish? In other words, what do you want people to DO after they watch, read or listen to it?

From now on, decide ahead of time what those answers are. Then design the various things you post online to make the best use of the attention you get online and off.

What do you think? Have other examples of effective engagement and call-to-action strategies? I welcome your comments.

UPDATE: Since there are some fervent comments below concerning the design and use of effective calls-to-action, I wanted to share a link to this How to Master the Design of Compelling Calls-to-Action post on Hubspot. Some good advice there.

Bob Baker is the author of “Guerrilla Music Marketing Online,” Berkleemusic’s “Music Marketing 101” course, and many other books and promotion resources for DIY artists, managers and music biz pros. You’ll find Bob’s free ezine, blog, podcast, video clips, and articles at and

Reader Comments (9)

Thanks Bob for your insight and expertise.
You know stuff!

Walt Pitts

February 21 | Unregistered CommenterWalt Pitts

Bob, that you would put forward Walt's video as an example of effective engagement and/or put forward the text in the top right hand corner as an example of a strong call to action is highly misleading for readers. Walt plays beautifully, but if - as his part-time consultant - that was the video you recommended he post to YouTube I would respectfully urge Walt to start paying someone else for advice. To label the screamingly obvious need for the text and graphics to be a little less cluttered as getting "hyper critical" undermines the importance of some very basic principles of branding and design. How can a call to action function as a 'call out' for action if the element meant to be doing the calling is completely lost amongst every other? The graphics are illegible, as is the copy embedded within them - the font used for the copy sitting outside of the graphics also makes it difficult to read. With a few very basic recommendations Walt's video could have contained a much stronger i.e clearer call to action, whilst branding Walt in a much more professional manner. I'm sorry Bob, please don't take it personally, but this is the second post I've read on Music Think Tank in recent weeks (the other being a post by Ariel Hyatt) that offers exceptionally poor examples of ways to execute the most basic of marketing disciplines.

February 21 | Unregistered CommenterVigilante Boy

The music industry is a complex place. tks for the insightful info!

February 21 | Unregistered CommenterD4B4

Dear Vigilante Boy, Thanks for your feedback on my post and on Walt's video. Point taken. Ideally, graphics and text should be clear and easy to read. Yes, indeed.

However, my goal with this post was to communicate one thing only: the importance of including a "call to action" or some type of engagement mechanism with the things that musicians post online.

It wasn't an overview of branding strategy. It wasn't a lesson on proper graphic design. It wasn't about my value (or lack thereof) as a consultant.

It was about one thing only: stressing the importance of including an engagement mechanism -- regardless of what form it takes -- with the things that musicians post online.

Walt is going the DIY route and, like many self-promoting musicians, he struggles with trying to learn it all and do it all himself. Is this video a perfect and flawless example? No. But I applaud Walt for pushing past his comfort zone, taking action, and getting something out there.

He didn't let the "perfection curse" stop him from sharing his music online. And now that he has this first video posted, he has plans to redo the graphics and make the wording more legible in future clips. That's what successful people do. They take action and make consistent, incremental improvements along the way.

February 21 | Registered CommenterBob Baker

Hi Bob,

Sure - using real world, in the trenches examples of DIY musicians applying marketing principles is great - my point is that as an example of an effective call to action yours fails to communicate for readers that unless the call to action is designed to be clear, having one is pointless.

It would be completely unrealistic for me to suggest that Walt should have had an elaborate brand strategy in place before posting the video - and that's not what I did. I think suggesting that entertaining some of the most basic principles of branding and design would have either been beyond Walt or would have risked him being paralysed by the "perfectionism curse" is unhelpful advice.

There are many shades of grey between the options you are presenting in your post and reply to my comment. To suggest it's a straight choice between posting the video Walt posted and having a full blown brand strategy complete with design assets is misleading. Your post fails to isolate and clarify those shades of grey for the DIY musician - and now in your comment you're defending that by suggesting doing something is better than nothing. I disagree. There's an old chef's saying "Never let your mistakes leave the kitchen". As anyone reading this blog would be only too aware, all musicians are struggling to generate any kind of profile in an incredibly crowded market of time poor listeners. A musician gets one opportunity to make a good first impression. Potential fans or gig clients have thousands and thousands of choices of potential musicians to listen to or book - all right at their fingertips. And the cold hard reality is many of those thousands of choices may actually be more skilled, experienced or talented performers - or failing that just plain cheaper.

To suggest that calls to action can be effective in isolation from the most basic branding and design (rather than any elaborate strategy) is to completely mislead your readers about the value of branding and design to a musician and there ability to help differentiate a musician or band in a saturated market.

February 22 | Unregistered CommenterVigilante Boy

Watch this interview with Jack and Nataly of Pomplamoose -- starting at the 8:15 mark

February 22 | Registered CommenterBob Baker

Bob, not sure if you posted that video as a response to my last comment, but if you did I'm puzzled about what it is I'm meant to be listening for at the 8.15 mark?

I'd already watched this interview on Techcrunch. From the 8.15 mark all I hear them talking about is music and not waiting until you have top of the line equipment to start putting your music out there?

What has this got to do with clear calls to action and basic branding and design principles?

February 23 | Unregistered CommenterVigilante Boy

Gotta agree with Vigalante. This is a confounding post.

This DIY musician made as amateur of a video as possible (not critiquing his playing here, the shooting of the vid) Single, static camera shot, and vertical!!

He's tiny on a youtube vid, as you mentioned.

His comments are ridiculous. His hat is not interesting. THe fact he has guitars on the wall? Wow. Audience members dont care about his pedels. If Lady Gaga can somehow figure out a way to be compelling in horizontal, this chap probably can as well. Then he makes plain black bars 10 times more amateurish by cluttering it with tiny type in Comic Sans-esque font (cardinal sin in graphic design) and lil pix of nothing.

A musician doing a goofy video like this is not unusual. It is weird to see asomething that's pretty much wrong in every way visually, being lauded as a good attention grabber.

Fairly typical of MTT. It's usually about "Hey, sell keychains with your bands logo on them!" and less about "Are you as compelling as the absolute best in your field?"

February 23 | Unregistered CommenterFreddy

wow! 387 clicks! way to go Walt...

February 28 | Unregistered Commenterfinnball

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