But assuming that it is, can be problematic.
Over the years, I’ve found all kinds of marketing methods, charts, formulas, strategies, and outlines, many of them brilliant, some of which produced meaningful results.
But as we explore these options, there’s one thing that becomes clear – there’s no such thing as a “perfect” formula.
Certainly, there are personal biases, circumstantial considerations, and resource-based limitations that can come into play.
But what works for one doesn’t always work for another. Read that again.
Some bloggers create six-, seven-figures and beyond without a dime spent on ads or a minute spent on social media.
Some podcasters found their audience trying their hand at a variety of topics with different formats and different co-hosts, weaving their way to an eight-figure internet marketing empire.
Others have used omnichannel marketing with astonishing precision and finesse. They’re able to get their resonant message in front of many audiences across multiple channels with targeted content, and they make it look easy.
But it may not be your experience, it may not be your path.
You can talk to coaches, experts, executives, specialists, you can listen to podcasts and audio programs, you can take courses and seminars, and more. Again, you may have some stellar discoveries. But it doesn’t mean you’ll have found the answer.
Allow your journey to be your journey. Hypothesize. Set up experiments. Execute time-bound campaigns. Monitor results. Adjust and iterate.
It’s a lot for a solopreneur to handle. So, find help. Or keep the scope manageable.
Marketing is not a formula. It can be frustrating when we assume that it is. And that’s not helpful.
What is helpful is to recognize what’s not working and to adapt and iterate quickly. If it’s not a hit, switch.
Marketing is supposed to be fun. You’re doing it wrong if it isn’t. Even spectacular failures can be exciting and enlightening. Many successful online marketers have publicly documented their greatest failures. Read them. Learn from them. Understand that no one succeeds 100% of the time.
Some of my greatest successes were the crowdfunding campaign that raised $15,000 for a jazz artist, a content marketing campaign that drove a website’s traffic from 0 to 800 in three years, and a social media / email / PR / word of mouth campaign that sold 188 of 200 tickets for The 3 Project (more to follow on this).
But my personal graveyard of failed experiments and marketing campaigns continues to grow. I’m grateful for the successes, and I can honestly say I’m grateful for all the failures too. I’m grateful for all of it.
So, don’t worry about the formula. Do some speculation, come up with a game-plan, get into action, and track what happens. Then, if it doesn’t work, adjust course or try something new.
In an ideal world, all of your marketing activities would be connected to a bigger campaign.
In other words, you shouldn’t be doing your marketing at random, because if you are, it’s not leading to a specific objective.
This is what leads to thoughtless spamming and aimless begging for attention. You know, like “Check us out!” or “Buy our album!” or “Vote for us!”
There’s a time and a place for call to actions, but you shouldn’t use them as an engagement strategy.
In order to build a successful campaign, you need to start with your goals in mind and let them inform your next steps.
A good music marketing campaign will require you to think about your overall objectives and create an obvious and straightforward structure for their fulfillment.
So, let’s take a look at the seven steps you need to take to build a successful campaign.
Step 1 – Get Focused
Musicians and entrepreneurs alike tend to have a lot of different projects and ideas they want to pursue.
Unfortunately, this can get in the way of gaining clarity on immediate goals.
I’m not saying that it’s easy – or necessarily possible – to be completely streamlined, but I do think you can organize your priorities in such a way that enables you to remain focused on the task at hand.
For example, I recently wrote out all of the projects I’m in the midst of completing on my whiteboard.
This helped me to see where all of my time and mind space was going.
This step alone is highly valuable, because you’ll free yourself from having to track all of your projects in your mind.
Then, I forced myself to pick one project to work on right now. I know, it sounds like torture, right?
This is my evolving and revolving list of projects.
But you have to think about the opportunity cost that comes with spreading yourself thin. You’ll end up blocking out a lot of the great ideas and insights that could come from being sharply focused.
If you want to launch a successful music marketing campaign, make sure to hone in on a single focus at any given time.
Step 2 – Set Goals
I know, I know, it sounds pretty trite by now, especially if you’ve been following along with the blog or the podcast for any length of time.
But I know all too well the importance of having clearly defined goals, and without that, your music marketing campaign doesn’t really stand a chance.
Isn’t that a scary thought? What this means is that if you have no rails for your project, you don’t really know how or when it got started, and you never know when it ends!
The project can go on aimlessly in perpetuity, accomplishing very little or nothing in the process.
A specific timeframe makes it much easier for you to track your progress.
I have conducted a variety of different experiments with marketing campaigns, and this year I’ve been trying out a lot of different things on social media sites – in 30 day increments – to see what works.
My StumbleUpon experiment got some pretty interesting results.
If I know the campaign is only going to last for 30 days, I know exactly how to measure my results; especially if I started with specific goals in mind.
I also know that I have to hit it pretty hard to see any kind of result in a 30 day timeframe.
Your campaigns should probably last more like 90 days, 180 days, or maybe even a year!
But when you know how long it’s going to last, you can also figure out what you need to do on a daily basis to work towards your goals. That’s key.
Make sure to put your goals down into writing, even if you save them on a digital platform later.
Step 3 – Make a Plan
So you have your goals. Excellent; but I’m guessing you haven’t made a plan for how you’re going to achieve them yet.
This is why goals are so often missed; people never take the time to construct a plan that’s easy to follow and execute on!
So what does a plan look like? Well, that depends entirely on what you’re trying to accomplish.
But let’s just say that you’re trying to market your upcoming album.
Pre-release is the best time to plan, because most artists tend to begin marketing after the release instead of before. Big mistake!
If you wait until after the fact, you’ve lost the valuable opportunity to tease the release and get some interest in it before it ever comes out.
If you do it right, you should have a lot of people interested in pre-sales.
Your music marketing campaign might include a crowdfunding campaign, social media, blogging, YouTube videos, an album release party, tour dates, and so forth.
You need to figure out exactly what mediums you’re going to use, how often you’re going to show up in those places, and what kind of message you’re going to send out.
The point is to break down your goals into digestible chunks that you can handle on a daily basis. Those items would then become your to-do list.
Get your plan in order before moving onto…
Step 4 – Get Help
I’m convinced that I don’t have all of the best ideas. Crazy, right?
But here’s the thing; I can make a pretty good marketing plan all on my own, but others might have other ideas to contribute, making my plan great instead just merely good.
This is a step I might have a tendency to glance over as I think about making a plan, because I wrongfully assume that everyone thinks this way, but that may not be the case.
So, either way it’s worth mentioning.
Your brain can only take you so far, especially if you don’t have a wealth of experiences to draw upon.
Get together with trusted friends, ask other successful people you know, form a mastermind, or seek the help of experts.
Sometimes, the help of experts can be obtained entirely for free. You can find blog posts, podcast episodes and videos that talk about the things you might want to know more about as you put together a music marketing campaign.
You have a lot of options, so you have no excuses for skipping over this step.
Yes, it may take you in different directions. You might be forced to cross items off of your list. Your brilliant inspirations might turn out to be dumb. You’ll find that out as you begin to engage in conversation with others.
It’s totally okay if you have to make some revisions. The process of refinement is a necessary one, and it gives you a chance to leverage the strengths of others.
Life’s not meant to be lived in isolation, right? Everyone needs community. If others can help you succeed, they get to take ownership over that success too.
So don’t hesitate in reaching out. You never know who might be willing to help unless you ask.
Step 5 – Take Action
Don’t get stuck at the planning stage. You don’t need a perfect plan, and moreover, you’ll probably never have one.
A good plan now is better than a perfect plan later.
If you never take action on your plan, it serves to reason that you won’t be successful with your campaign either, right?
Failure is always a possibility, but success is never a possibility unless you do something.
If you have properly defined goals and rails for your campaign, you’ll be able to track it.
But don’t worry about looking at your results until later, and by later I mean when you’re done!
You really have no idea how well something is going to work until you have gone through the entire process.
Regardless of how things may appear at first, or even when you are half way through your campaign, you just don’t know what opportunities may come until the very end!
Look, you’re the one that set the goals, so you thought that this was a good idea in the first place. You made a plan for their achievement, because you believed that if you did the right things, you would get the results you’re after.
Quitting prematurely will only serve to reinforce doubt in your own mind.
See your campaign to the end. This will give you the data you need to make the necessary tweaks for your next campaign.
What you learn from your first campaign will prove invaluable to your next campaign, and so on.
Step 6 – Evaluate & Adapt
This is the stage at which you can evaluate your results.
You’ve set your goals, you’ve made your plan, and you’ve finished your campaign.
Now you can take a look at what happened, what didn’t happen, and what you could have done better.
Having a beginning and an end to your campaign is crucially important, because otherwise you have nothing to measure, and you want your campaign to be as measureable as it can possibly be!
If your goal was to sell a certain number of albums, did you?
If you wanted to drive a certain amount of traffic to your website, did you use a tool like Google Analytics to track it?
If you wanted to get more ‘likes’ for your Facebook page, did you make good use of the insights they provide you with?
Facebook Insights are incredibly detailed.
Without data, you have no way of improving upon your strategies.
Your campaign is probably too ambiguous if you can’t measure it.
It’s okay if you didn’t set it up right the first time around. The idea is to tweak, adjust and make another go at it.
But next time you’ll want to know exactly what you’re after, and if that wasn’t clear the first time around, you probably didn’t have obvious goals.
Also, your first few campaigns may not do much for you. That’s okay, because maybe you just haven’t been able to capture the attention of the right people yet!
There’s no question that many of my experiments and campaigns have fizzled. I knew going in that they might not do much for me. But I figured that if I experimented long enough, I would eventually find some things that worked for me.
Doing the same things expecting different results is insanity, yes? So figure out what you could do differently and better next time.
Step 7 – Repeat
Once you’ve finished your campaign, it’s time to go back to step 1.
You have to get focused, set your goals, make a plan, get help, take action, and adapt & evaluate all over again.
If you were sufficiently focused the first time around, then that step should be easy.
Likewise, the other steps should become clearer and more defined every time you do this.
If you run enough music marketing campaigns, it serves to reason that you will get better at it over time.
But you’ll never reach that level unless you give yourself a fair chance to experiment and improve. That’s key.
The steps outlined here should help you to build your music marketing campaign, but the exact details and framework for your campaigns are entirely up to you.
There are a variety of marketing tactics you can use to get to where you want to go. There are many different goals that are worthy of pursuing.
If you treat each campaign as an experiment, I believe you will learn a lot.
It’s when we treat it like a do-or-die that we tend to get ourselves in trouble.
Think of it this way; if your self-image and confidence is tied to your ability to succeed with your campaign (whatever that means to you), there is always a chance that you will fail.
Don’t forget that you make the rules. This is a winnable game if you make learning your highest priority.
You are in charge, and the game is for you to define, so you may as well make it a game that you can win.
What do you think? Are there any missing steps that you see?
Have you conducted your own music marketing campaign, and if so, what did you learn from that experience?
Let us know in the comments section below!