Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Marketing Yourself

After the many years of school to prepare for a career in the field of music, I have recently been confronted with a necessary responsibility for which my classes and hours in the practice rooms did not prepare me. In order to have a successful career as an independent musician, I must have a marketing plan in place. I have been blessed recently by two friends who are excellent marketers who have freely given of their time, talent, and insight. By no means do I want to suggest that I am now an authority on the subject. On the contrary, I know that I am student in personal marketing; my hope is that I can share a little of what I am learning to help others like me begin thinking about their marketing plan.

In my mind, marketing is basically equated with branding your name. My goal is that whenever someone is looking for a pianist, teacher, coach, or author, that my name will come to mind. In order to have people make that connection, I have to get my name highly visible and keep my name before my target audience.

Many piano teachers would begin the process with running an ad in the classified section of the local newspaper. I've been there and done that -- with very little success. After a 5 week run of a rather sizable ad for piano lessons at the beginning of the fall, I received 9 calls. Of those calls, 3 resulted in students. To put it bluntly, newspaper advertisements alone simply do not work. There must be more.

The current source of information in our society is the Internet. As daunting a task as it may be, a credible musician must have a web presence that is both informative and attractive. My website at the moment is a work-in-progress and should be ready for public consumption in the coming weeks. Did I build it myself? No way.....I'm not that technologically savvy. Website designers are readily available in most areas and can build a functional site for you at a fairly reasonable cost. (Or you can hope to be lucky like me and have a friend volunteer to build it.)

An additional Internet marketing prospect that I never considered is the social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. By setting up a Facebook fan page, I now have a central location (in addition to the coming website) to inform people of my performances, alert them to exciting news and connect with other musicians from around the country. I was intimidated by the fan page design at first and relied heavily on my Internet-marketing acquaintance, Michael. I must admit that as I work with the page more and more, Facebook has made the nuts and bolts of it all fairly user-friendly. I think most people can get a basic page going without too much difficulty.

Based upon the recommendation of a dear college friend, I began blogging. My first foray into the blogosphere was personal in nature. We quickly realized that writing was something I enjoyed and that I was fairly good at it. As conversations moved into my professional life, it became clear that I could also have a lot to say about music and its many avenues. That's when Collaborations was born. By simply writing quality posts on a regular basis, I am creating another web presence for myself and establishing myself as an authority in the field of music. With some slight edits and development, many of the blog posts I have already written have been submitted for publication -- yet another branch of the marketing plan.

Lastly, I'm working to make myself more visually recognizable in my community. Posters, programs, flyers, and newspaper reviews now all feature the same headshot in order to provide continuity to my marketing plan. Charitable donations of piano lessons and private performances are being made to arts organizations for upcoming auction fundraisers. I'm finding every opportunity to be an active participant in the arts scene of the community -- that means I'm attending shows and concerts of all types, volunteering in children's theater companies, and providing free lectures for parents on the benefits of arts education in the the lives of their children.

My marketing plan is definitely evolving and growing daily. It takes a serious commitment to keep everything going, but I'm certain that I'll begin to see the fruits of the labor sooner rather than later.

What is the one tool in your marketing plan that is unique to you? How has it been effective?