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Mobile Marketing for Independent Artists: Strategy

Take down your Christmas tree! Walk away from that last mouthful of turkey! Stop putting cranberry on everything! It’s 2012 folks. Time to get back to business.

2011 was the year of absorbing, observing and conversing about mobile marketing. 2012 is all about getting amongst it. But hold your horses! Before you jump in at the digital deep end, let’s start with the basics. What exactly is mobile marketing?

Well according to the Mobile Marketing Association it is “a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network.” Put simply, it’s any method of communication with your fans in real-time via your cell phone or iPad.

You may already be glued to your cell phone with social media updates, email invites and texts, but what about other mobile marketing devices that can enhance your career such as QR codes, geo-social platforms and band apps?  How do these all fit into your marketing mix?

The most important element of any marketing decision is strategy - working out a plan of action. This doesn’t have to be a complicated, 20 page document full of marketing jargon and buzz terms. It’s all about getting real, and asking yourself some straight forward questions. Here is a guideline to help you on your merry way…

What Are Your Objectives?

The first step with any marketing strategy is to define your goals. What do you want to achieve on a short-term and a long-term basis? We all want world domination (hell yeah!), but let’s be realistic. What would you be happy to achieve in 6 months, 1 year, and 5 years time? Make a note of your business objectives (the financial side of your career) and marketing objectives and use this as the basis for moving forward. Veer on the cautious side - it’s better to start small and build upwards than to be a cocky so-and-so and end up broke and disappointed. 

Who Is Your Target Audience, And How Do They Interact With Music?

If you can’t answer this question straight away then you can start by asking your fans directly who they are and what platforms they are using to consume music. Incentivize them to respond by offering something in return (tickets, free music, etc.). Use online analytics such as Google Analytics or Facebook insights to work out the demographic of your audience. Look at bands you deem competition and analyze their fan base. You can often pick up tips on what to do and what not to do by scoping out bands that are similar to you.

Also spend some time on Google hunting down statistics. For example, ‘The Naked Facts’ report shows that 64% of QR Codes were scanned by females, and that the 25-54 age group utilize QR Codes the most. The Pew Internet Report announced that smartphone adoption is highest among the affluent and well-educated, the (relatively) young, and non-whites. Flurry also reported that consumers are now spending more time on mobile apps than on the web, although entertainment only takes up 7% of this time.

Investing in a mobile marketing campaign that has already been tried and tested on your target audience ensures a demand. But also look out for trends developing in other industries (film, games, etc.) and see what you can apply to yourself– there is nothing like launching something completely new to grab the attention of fans and media alike!!

Do You Have Fan Data & Exclusive Content?

In order to get any mobile marketing campaign off the ground, you need to own fan data (email addresses, zip codes, cell numbers, etc.). How much fan data is enough I hear you ask? Well this depends on your goal and tactic. If you want to launch a simple SMS campaign to promote an upcoming tour where you need to pull 30-50 people at each venue, then ensure you have at least double this amount in cell numbers in each geographical area. If you still need to work on your database then start collecting now! You can incentivize your fans via your existing marketing platforms. For example, the Black Eyed Peas collected cell numbers on a recent tour by asking fans to text shout-outs during a concert which then incorporated into an improvised rap. Genius. Be clever and creative but always remember to respect your fans’ privacy, and follow the golden rule of opting-in.

When it comes to content, on the other hand, you don’t want to re-publish information a multitude of times, so think carefully about the what, how and where. Keith Center, founder of Figmental Records and front man of The Dreamscapes Project says, “When you are a fan of an artist who has one million fans, being in the club means a lot more.  When your band has ten thousand fans or less, you are probably still in the stage of trying to stay personally connected with each of them.  Ask yourself, how many times will their phone buzz with a concert update, or content they can get elsewhere, before they just start ignoring them. Make sure that your mobile marketing fills a need.”

Soul singer Erykah Badu certainly asked herself this question when she launched the first band app that combined the music world with gaming – users fill up their ‘LoveMeter’ by sharing news with friends, buying music and checking in at gigs. The more full the meter gets, the more personal the recorded voice messages from Badu accessed through the app will be.

What Is Your Current Marketing Routine?

The key to any successful marketing activity is consistency. If you can’t maintain your mobile marketing strategy then don’t commit to it in the first place. You’ll waste money and see no results. With all marketing, you need to establish a routine of maintenance. Ask yourself how much time you can commit on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

You also need to ensure that your mobile marketing activities compliment each other and fit into your overall brand identity. For example, if you’ve always produced creative and visually striking band posters and merchandise, then adding a QR code to them is a no-brainer. Alternatively, if you’ve never used an iPhone app in your life, then maybe a band app isn’t for you. Work out what fits YOU.

What Is Your Timeline?

Timing is everything. Don’t launch a band app or SMS campaign randomly. Make sure you have a well thought out timeline of activities. Optimizing each marketing tactic is imperative. What can you do to coincide with a new EP release? How can you maximize your tour schedule? What marketing tactics will compliment your PR efforts? Create a schedule and stick to it.

How Can You Measure Your Return On Investment?

Once you’ve committed to a mobile marketing initiative, you need to be able to track its success. Create your own metrics system and review it on a monthly basis. Some helpful ways of doing this are:

• Online benchmarking - The number of likes/follows/friends on your social networking sites.
• Web analytics - Utilize the likes of Google Analytics to see if traffic to your website has increased, and from what sources.
• Your email list - Have you witnessed a surge in sign-ups?
• Fan Responses - don’t be afraid to ask your fans what they think of your latest initiative.

The above questions should provide a good foundation for you to make some important decisions on your mobile marketing future. Your budget being the overriding factor, of course!

You don’t need to jump on the mobile marketing bandwagon for the sake of it - have a plan and discover what works for you. Stay tuned for my post next month that takes a look at what mobile marketing tools are available for independent musicians, and visit my first post in this series to get up to speed. 

Until then, Happy New Year!

Jem Bahaijoub is the founder of imaginePR, a music marketing company based in Washington DC. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Indie Ambassador TV is an educational series produced by Indie Ambassador. Through our video panelsindustry profiles and articles, artists and music professionals can educate themselves on general business topics, new technology and current industry trends.

Reader Comments (4)

Thank you for this post, I took notes.
I will be brain storming a strategy.

January 16 | Unregistered CommenterSTREET SPIRIT

Great Article! We have clients come to us quite often that want an iPhone app. We ask them why, and their response is always, "Everyone in our band has an iPhone". The reality is, you need to think about what mobile devices your fans have, not ONLY what your band members have. Android and iPhone are by far the most adopted and both should seriously be considered.

There are other operating systems in the market, however they are diminishing quickly, especially when you compared to the adoption of Android powered devices which dwarfs iPhone in the US and Globally.

This subject can get very complex, but I wanted to at least point that out. Keep the posts coming!

Benjamin Wade Inman, LLC
Nashville, TN

Hi Benjamin

Thanks for your feedback. You're right, the subject is very complex. It's difficult to cover all the issues in short blog posts but I hope I've covered the basics. I'm definitely going to check out and see what you offer.

Kind regards - Jem

Founder, imaginePR

January 18 | Unregistered CommenterJem Bahaijoub

Thanks for this article, very very informative. Especially the part about QR users to be primarily between the ages of 25-54. This is definitely a subject with a vast amount of information and resources, and now I have a better idea of where to go with it. Keep up the posts.

February 8 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

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