In their sugar, caffeine, or alcohol induced high, your friends may come to you and say:
You should do X, then Y, and then Z!
At one point, you may have expressed your enthusiasm for X.
In the meantime, your plan may have changed from X to A, but there’s no way your friends could know all the minute details that got you to A. So, they still assume X is your plan when you’ve already moved onto A.
Or, because of the urgency of the situation, you’ve dedicated most of your energy to A, and X has been put on the backburner, becoming a mere figment of your thinking from two or three months ago.
There could also be B, C, and D considerations that need to be addressed before you can safely and confidently move forward with X.
All your friends are seeing is the destination, not the journey to getting there. They aren’t seeing the people, circumstances, and events that can act as constraints, real or imagined.
You don’t want to dedicate all your time and energy to “worst case” thinking, but it has its place. If you’re going to dedicate time to “best case” thinking, then it needs to be balanced out with “worst case” thinking too.
Your friends can’t see the whole picture. It’s not worth fighting over, and it may not even be worth your time to explain how you got to A, or to comb through considerations B, C, and D with them either. It may come across as little more than an excuse. X has become so obvious to them now; they can’t see any other way for you!
If you want to move the conversation forward, say “I would love to speculate on how we can make X possible. It’s been on the backburner because of A.”
Or, say “X was the best I could see at the time. But now I’m exploring D, which encompasses everything I talked about with X and more!”
There is no pathway forward if we don’t ask ourselves “how?”
Not to say we have all the answers. Oftentimes we don’t. We end up relying a little too heavily on experiences and memories that may not serve our present.
But there are few other questions as powerful as “how?” Because asking “how” implies that whatever it is you want to accomplish can be done. If it can be done, there must be a way. So, we begin looking for the way.
Before you do any Googling, though, sit with yourself, preferably for 30 to 60 minutes. Turn off all distractions. Find a pen and a piece of paper and write down whatever comes to mind.
Your answers may not always be forthcoming. But if you keep doing the looking, you will eventually come up with a plan.
So, make journaling a practice. Dedicate some time to thinking about your relationship, career, or life daily. Dedicate thought to what you want to accomplish. It’s time well spent.
What is the most important part of a building? The foundation.
It’s the same with music careers and businesses. If we want to grow, we need to build a solid foundation.
And this usually takes some digging. It requires some hard intellectual work and research. It doesn’t just come together in a vacuum or by accident.
Extending the analogy further, the part that usually takes the longest to build with any building is the foundation. After the foundation is in place, the rest of the building comes together much faster.
First, we need to know what we’re building towards. We need a blueprint. Otherwise, we don’t know how deep or wide to dig.
And that depends a lot on the type of career you want to have, whether it’s being a songwriter, a touring musician, a work from home music producer, or whatever else you might have in mind. You can create whatever you want, but you’re going to get more assistance from others and the universe if you’re clear on what you want and can stick to your guns.
Starting with the end in mind is an exercise a lot of people don’t do. So then, their building efforts are haphazard, and they end up having to repair their foundation later. It usually ends up being costly and difficult. Much more tedious than if they had started with the right foundation in the first place.
To offer an example, Music Entrepreneur HQ’s most visited blog post is a book review of Dr. Joseph Murphy’s The Power of Your Subconscious Mind.
At first, we were excited to see all that traffic come in.
There was one problem though. The people who came to check out that post? They were mostly interested in Dr. Murphy or his book, and not at all in music or building a music career. We thought we’d found an intersection of interests, when in fact we’d ended up attracting a different niche crowd altogether. So, we grew a lot of traffic and email list “bloat” that was never going to be good customers for us.
The sad part is that it took a couple of years to sort this all out. And my solution was to create an entirely separate email list for these people, in case I ever decided to take the niche more seriously and had other recommendations to send them.
Music Entrepreneur HQ still benefited from having a highly trafficked blog post. “A rising tide lifts all boats,” as they say. But what we learned from this experience was that we had to be a lot more careful about the content we published on our site. We needed to be sure that it was a good fit for our target audience if we had any intention of selling to them.
It’s often been said that if you lead with your interests, your audience will follow you. But sometimes this just isn’t true.
So, let’s start with the end in mind. What is it that you want in your music career? Be as clear as you possibly can. Don’t rush the process. Don’t get frustrated with it. Brainstorm. Speculate. Think about it. Talk about it. Discuss it with your mentors and people you trust. Journal about it. And let the picture form in your mind.
Once you know where you’re going, it’s all about unfolding the journey. The details start to take care of themselves. Instead of “working towards” something, you’ll be seeing the goal as a “done deal.” Then you’ll be unfolding it a day at a time. That’s a journey full of freedom and ease.
Don’t make up the blueprint as you go. Start with the blueprint.
For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.
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Do you know what your goals are? Are you aware of what steps you need to take to achieve your goals? What’s your plan? In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I share some ideas on how to create or revamp your music career strategy for 2019.
- 00:34 – The focus of this episode
- 01:12 – The Music Entrepreneur HQ strategy
- 03:24 – Crafting your music career strategy
- 03:59 – Determining what tactics to fit around your strategy
- 04:25 – Tip #1: Keep doing what’s working
- 05:36 – Tip #2: Study everything you can find on relevant topics
- 07:06 – Tip #3: Take a break and let ideas come to you
- 07:59 – Tip #4: Keep it lean and high impact
- 09:24 – Tip #5: Keep the winners, cut the losers
- 10:27 – Make your strategy with full confidence
Originally, when I began working on this podcast episode, I was planning to talk about strategy from a high level.
But then I realized that we could be here all day. There’s so much that could be said about strategy, whether it’s the definition of strategy or the exact tactics to use to get your music or product out there.
And, as I’ve expressed on the podcast before, I don’t think business plans or marketing plans should be sequentially ordered, multi-page documents organized by category.
When and where possible, we should collate and organize a single-page document where every element is interconnected and purposeful.
So, that’s the goal to strive for but getting there can be problematic.
After my conversation with Brent Vaartstra – he was on episode 126 and 127 of the podcast in case you missed it – I had some important realizations around strategy. This had led to the creation of a new strategy for The Music Entrepreneur HQ from the ground up.
The strategy I’m developing isn’t complete by any means. But the foundation of it is clearer than ever.
What I started to see was that there are only three components to my strategy.
The first is content. Whether it’s blog posts, podcast episodes or videos, content is designed to do two things – to drive traffic to the website and to capture email addresses.
Now, some people will come to the website and buy products too. Obviously, that’s a desired outcome but I’m not counting on it. What I’m hoping people will do is take the next step in the relationship and want to follow along over the long haul. That means greater Customer Lifetime Value.
Now, CLV is a little technical, but this is basically what it means. It means the average amount of money you make from every customer.
The second component is email. The importance of an email list simply cannot be denied, and I think most marketers would agree that it’s more important and effective than social media.
My email campaigns are designed to do two things – to nurture those who aren’t ready to buy yet and to make people aware of the products that are available, and by extension, sell those products.
The third and final component is products. That term isn’t used as much in the music industry. Maybe “merch” is a better term.
But the creation and delivery of products is what’s going to make this business viable. No sales equals zero viability. I may as well spend my time doing something else if money is all I care about.
Fortunately, I do have sales and money isn’t all I care about. Fulfillment and impact matter to me far more than money. But because I have certain financial goals, I’m going to be aggressive with the creation and delivery of products. But that’s another aspect of strategy entirely.
First and foremost, the products educate my customers. Second, they offer next steps for my customers, whether that’s buying another book, getting on a coaching call, purchasing a course, joining the community or otherwise.
So, from a high-level view, that’s all there is to my strategy. Simple, right?
Your strategy won’t necessarily be the same as mine unless you have the same business model. But the idea here is to break it all down into the core components so that you’re clear on what the purpose of each of the components are.
Now, what I’ve just shared with you could easily fit on one page. So, we could call it a day.
But a strategy isn’t complete without a couple of other elements, especially tactics.
I like to think philosophy or operation guidelines as being part of the strategy too, but what we’re going to focus on in this episode is tactics.
So, how do you go about filling in the blanks in terms of tactics?
Now, I admit that my strategy is a work in progress.
But based on what I’m about to share with you, the reason for that is probably going to become a lot clearer.
So, here are a few steps I suggest you follow when you’re working on your strategy.
As you work through these steps, keep in mind that you’re fleshing out the specific activities you will be doing under each component of your strategy.
As I’ve already shared with you, mine are content, email and products.
1. Keep Doing What’s Already Working
If you’ve been at this for a while, then you should have a good sense of what and what isn’t working for you. So, even if you’re revamping your strategy, feel free to carry over any tactics that are already working.
If you’re new at this, then just make some educated guesses. Some of the most popular social media sites out there are YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. So, it might be worth figuring out how you’re going to be using these as part of your marketing strategy. You’ve heard me talk about the importance of an email list. So, maybe start identifying how you’re going to build and serve your email list.
It’s not hard to find proven tactics when you go looking for them. The only thing to beware of is the fact that what works for another may not work for you.
So, on a philosophical level, you need to know what matters to you. Identifying your values can help with this process.
But even if you find certain tactics don’t work for you, you’re not stuck with them. I’ll talk more about that a little later.
So, between research, data you’ve collected and best guesses, you should have a good idea of what tactics to include in your strategy. But it’s unlikely that each of your components are fleshed out in full yet. So, let’s move onto the next step, which explains research in more detail.
2. Study Everything You Can Find on Relevant Topics
This is what I’m doing right now, and it’s why my strategy isn’t fleshed out in full yet.
The content component isn’t that hard to figure out because I have a near limitless list of content ideas I haven’t even touched on yet. I’d say the content component is 80% fleshed out because I’m quite adept at that process by now.
Granted, my channels may change down the line. My primary channel right now is the podcast.
Now, because I want to serve my audience better, I’m planning to dedicate more time to surveying my audience and researching keywords.
But as you can probably guess, my biggest pain point isn’t with content because content drives a lot of traffic to my website every single day.
In the last couple of years, I’ve also figured out how to grow my email list, so that isn’t a massive pain point either.
The number one component I’m trying to flesh out is products. This year, I’m planning to launch numerous books. So, I’m spending most of my study time learning about how to market and sell more books.
And, I’m studying virtually everything I can find on the topic.
As I hear about tactics that I think could prove beneficial for me, I add them to my strategy document. At this point, my strategy document isn’t fully organized because I’m basically just taking notes as I go. I will organize it later once I’ve exhausted available resources.
This may sound tiresome, but it’s quite simple. I will just search for something like “how to sell more books” on YouTube and listen to all available videos while playing a game on my 3DS. So, it’s easy to do even while I’m resting.
3. Let Ideas Come to You
This is another reason my strategy isn’t fully fleshed out. I’m allowing ideas come to me as I reflect on everything I’ve been reading, listening to or watching.
As tempting as it is to document your strategy in one sitting, I think that’s a mistake.
You can easily miss out on important considerations that will help you execute at a high level.
It’s important to spend time just thinking and reflecting. As you continue to go about your day to day work, new ideas will come to you and you’ll want to add them to your strategy.
Again, I know this might seem tedious. But I’ve heard other entrepreneurs like Tim Francis recommend this process, and I think he’s spot on. I’ve found tremendous value in this while I’ve been working on my strategy.
Don’t be in a big rush to complete your strategy document. Consume relevant information voraciously and give your mind time to connect the dots between everything you’ve been learning.
4. Keep it Lean & High Impact
This is an optional step. It’s an important one for The Music Entrepreneur HQ because it’s another philosophical underpinning of the business.
I started the podcast series a while back on growth hacking for musicians. And, that’s something I will continue to elaborate on in future episodes.
But something I’ve realized about growth hacking is that if you want to take an aggressive approach to anything, you need to keep your activities lean and high impact.
If you want to do many things at once, you’re going to end up sacrificing in another area.
For instance, if you plan to share your blog posts to 20 social networks, it’s probably going to take away from the time you have available to write blog posts. That means you can’t write as many blog posts.
That’s a crude example, but I think you get the idea.
I used to obsess about how many channels I could use to promote my content and business. And, the activities required a lot of my time. I don’t do that anymore.
I need to set aside as much time as possible to write, so I’m trying to whittle down my tactics to those that yield results.
If you can execute many of your tactics using the same tools or platforms, that can certainly speed things up. For instance, using a social scheduling app like Hootsuite, you can schedule posts for several social networks simultaneously.
So, if your tactics are interconnected, it makes it easier for you to be high impact while being lean.
It’s becoming an important aspect of what I do at The Music Entrepreneur HQ, but you don’t need to adopt this for yourself.
5. Keep the Winners, Cut the Losers
Most likely, this is something you’re going to be doing after you’ve spent several months or even a year executing against your strategy.
But even as you’re adding to your strategy document, you may end up identifying things that aren’t in alignment with your values or don’t connect in a meaningful way to your other tactics. Feel free to delete these from your document.
And, as you continue to execute your strategy, keep an eye on what works and what doesn’t. The 80/20 rule states that you get 80% of your results from 20% of your activity.
So, even a lean strategy is sure to have some holes in it. You don’t need to hold onto something just because other marketers are endlessly raving about it.
For instance, I love checking out new social networks, but I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon every time someone goes off about Snapchat, Periscope or otherwise. I guess you could say that’s another philosophical underpinning of The Music Entrepreneur HQ strategy.
But the point is this. Do more of what’s working. Eliminate what isn’t working. If you’ve got the data to prove it, you should do this with full confidence.
As I mentioned at the beginning, there’s so much that could be said about strategy.
Even I’m still learning, and I’ve been building websites since I was 14!
But I hope what I’ve shared with you today is enough to bestow you with the Confidence you need to make your strategy hum.
Also know that if you take the time to craft a strategy and document it, you’re way ahead of many companies and businesses out there that haven’t done the same. So, please set aside some time to make one, even if you’re just letting ideas come to you while you’re taking a walk or playing video games.
That’s all for this episode. Talk to you again soon.
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