45 Marketing Tips for Audio Professionals
This post has been brewing for awhile. People ask me what I ‘do’ and I usually come up with some (con)fusion of an answer like “I’m a musician producing apps and websites and I do freelance marketing for audio software companies.”
The reality is, we all wear multiple hats now. Just like the line between musician, producer, and audio engineer has blurred (face it, you’re basically a psychologist) — the idea of “marketing” in a traditional sense is getting increasingly blurred and irrelevant. It’s not the 1960’s anymore. You don’t need some illusive smoke screen to prove — or worse — deceive the value of a product or service. Transparency is more valuable, exposed and appreciated than ever before.
Over time, I’ve come to the realization that “marketing” is less of some standalone activity, and more of something that needs to be natively embedded in everything you do. After all, you’re here reading this, right? Hopefully it’s because I’ll provide some value with this article. And, well, you could buy Quiztones if you really want to…
Here’s the secret to marketing: there’s no secret. Just strategic hard work, a willingness to adapt, and an incredible amount of persistence.
I’m not going to give you the standard “have a social media presence.” Not only is that super obvious in 2013, but I see many brand pages actually doing more harm than good for their brand.
I’m going to give specific examples of approaches that have worked for me in the past. Ten minutes from now, I hope you’ll be more confident than ever at branding and promoting yourself.
Your personal and/or business website is your home base — your hub. Everything else is fleeting and owned by someone else.
Make sure you own yourname.com and yourstudio.com because it costs just ten dollars a year. Even if you’re just temporarily redirecting your domain to Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/SoundCloud until you get a proper website up, it’s ten dollars a year to secure your personal real estate on the internet. When you’re ready to properly host a site, it’s as cheap as just $5 per month. Well worth it.
Design matters. Good design and usability builds trust. It’s not 2005 where simply having a website is enough. The differentiator in 2013 is great design and usability (including mobile). If you want to future-proof yourself, find a theme that’s responsive and retina-ready.
Good design doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Sites like Themeforest let you browse through thousands of flexible and professionally designed WordPress or HTML-based website templates. If you ever plan on blogging (which I highly recommend you do), set up a self-hosted WordPress site. There’s also a difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. You probably want dot org.
When I started The Pro Audio Files on a whim in 2010, I found a WordPress template on Themeforest, emailed the designer to do some customizations, and I’ve been working with him on various projects ever since.
It took maybe two days to get the site up and running. I even got banned from Gearslutz for it, so good things all around.
Sometimes the perfect connection really is just an email away — and that goes for anything. It’s well worth the two minutes. What’s the worst that can happen? Nothing. The best that can happen? Anything.
There’s always incredible marketing opportunities ready to be fleshed out right in front of you — all revolving around the network of people you know. Don’t forget that businesses are made up of people. Make sure you’re networking effectively and always be on the lookout for strategic partnership opportunities.
Must-haves for your site:
- Audio (use HTML5 players instead of Flash so it plays nice on mobile)
- Photos and Videos (you, clients, studio, etc.)
- Client List (with links and audio examples if possible)
- Rates & Contact information
Feature your clients on your site. With the smallest bit of effort, you can actually provide very valuable marketing for your clients simply by embedding their music, videos, and photos on your site and/or posting them on social media. Helping other people will in turn raise your own value, and is also one of the most rewarding things you can do in life.
- Properly crop your profile picture. I beg you. Simply make it a square. Email me and I’ll do it for you. Actually, don’t. But here’s a guide to all the proper sizes for Facebook graphics.
- Use the ‘About’ box effectively. The ‘About’ box is right below your profile picture and is valuable real estate. Write a concise description of your business and include a link at the end. You can see how I’m using use it on our Facebook page. I have a quick description of the site, a sponsor plug for Quiztones (because I’m shameless and want to sustain my unsustainable dining habits). I’m also using some Facebook ‘tabs’ next to that, with my Twitter stream and a call to action/website redirect for Quiztones. You can install the Twitter tab here and the other tab here.
- Promoted posts. The reality is that Facebook is now a public company in ultra-hyper-monetization mode. To reach your full audience (and grow it simultaneously), consider promoting your posts (now referred to as “boosting”). I’ve personally started posting less often, but with higher impact posts, and promoting them for $10-$30. It seems to be working well to reach everyone while simultaneously growing the page’s audience.
- Don’t just syndicate every post from Twitter to Facebook. Take the time to format your posts specifically for each network. When you post a link on Facebook, it will parse, and then you can delete the URL text. Make sure you have a great title and also take a second to customize the link’s auto-generated description. I usually shorten it to avoid truncation and make it look like a human wrote it.
- Save searches for relavent keywords as well as ‘yourdomain.com’. Here’s one of my saved searches. Make sure you click ‘All’ instead of just ‘Top’ (the default). When a new tweet comes up, Favorite it (and/or sparingly ReTweet), or just start a conversation with that person. It’s a great way to build valuable new relationships. I’ve met so many people on Twitter that I’ve been lucky enough to subsequently meet in real life at AES. It’s incredible.
- Blatantly promoting your own music doesn’t work. Think about it. We have so much music coming at us from all directions these days. I have a huge Spotify inbox backlog of songs to check out from friends whose taste in music I trust. Who has time for a stranger’s blatant self-promotion. Build relationships first, then let your well-thought-out bio and links do the promotion.
- Contributing value to a niche community will eventually give you an effective vehicle to promote yourself or your product/service to a relevant audience.
I love Instagram. Not only do I appreciate how pure it is in being a single media format, but it’s also very shareable content.
While auto-syndicating your Tweets to Facebook can look sloppy, pressing the share button on an Instagram photo and sharing it to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr is safe and yields predictable formatting. It perfectly supplements and fits in with the native content already on those networks, making it low effort and high impact.
People love peering through someone else’s eyes. Think about your favorite artist. It’s so cool to see their posts on Instagram and Vine where they’re just hanging out, on stage, or in the studio. It’s like an exclusive behind-the-scenes pass and it’s humanizing. Give that to your followers.
Location data on Instagram and Vine is powered by Foursquare.
Set up an official page for your studio on Foursquare. This way, when people take photos or videos (or check in) during a session at your studio, they can tag the location and it will be the official page and start effortlessly populating content for you. Your official page will have all the information you want: links to your site, links to your social accounts, great photos, etc.
Don’t rely on other people to create your brand’s image, but let them help populate it with unique content. Take control of it today and enable your clients to help promote you by enabling and encouraging them to check in, take videos, post photos, tag you, etc.
Soundcloud, BandCamp, etc.
You don’t need to be everywhere, just pick your favorite communities and get involved. Interact with other people’s content. Like it, comment on it, message them directly, etc.
It’s better to be fully involved in one or two communities than to spread yourself thin across every community.
Whether you like it or not, you are a brand and consistency matters.
Decide what kind of work you actually want to be doing. Are you looking for live sound gigs or do you want to mix pop records? Once you figure that out, make sure you’re sending a clear message about the services you offer and be consistent across your various social profiles. Sometimes using the same profile picture across all your profiles can help reinforce your personal brand.
Starting this blog was one of the best decisions I made. I did it on a whim in 2010 beacuse I was getting into audio engineering and music production and I wanted to learn more about it.
So I scouted out the best writers I could find and the rest is history. The amount of valuable connections I’ve made just through the site is priceless.
There’s countless benefits to blogging:
- Become an authority in your niche.
- Connect with an incredible amount of valuable people in your industry.
- Have a platform to promote your clients, which in turn raises your value.
- Blog posts give you something of value to promote. They don’t need to be long, but consistency helps you stay on people’s radar.
- Some ideas: experiences (document the recording process), link posts (feature others), interviews (connect with powerful people), tips/tutorials (share your knowledge).
- Content marketing. Organic Google searches alone send 700 visits here every day. Start writing articles that help people, and all kinds of potential clients and partners will come your way. I get tons of emails from people asking what our studio rate is. We’re not even a studio.
I’m too introverted to give you any offline networking tips. You should probably be giving me tips in the comments. All I’ll say is: yes, I’m judging you if you don’t have MOO MiniCards.
I hope you found something useful here, and if you have any questions just drop me a message in the comments.
Also check out Matthew’s article on how to build your career as a music producer and Rob’s tips for better client interaction and communication.
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