A TRUE FAN SUPPORTS YOUR BUSINESS:
Sounds a little crude, but really — what good is a fan if they are not creating income for you in one way or another? Some fans buy anything you have to sell. Others only buy music and never come out to live shows. And then there is a growing number of fans that only download free music. They are a new breed of fan that need to be embraced in the direct to fan economy. Are these fans buying tickets to see your show? Buying merchandise? Willing to donate to your cause? Try not to get too hooked on exactly what they need to buy from you as long as they are or could be buying something.
Direct Patronage of the Arts
Nothing new or mind shattering here. Direct patronage is a return to an age old concept that makes more sense than ever today. Fans want to support you. They want to give you money and be a small part of your success. There’s no excuse not to set up ways for fans to support you directly and feel involved in your growth as an artist. There’s no excuse not to engage your fans and make sure you communicate your appreciation for their support. It’s not rocket science but it does take a little effort and a plan.
Your mission is to get as many fans as possible to support you in one way or another. We’ve defined support as participating in creating more income for you! So lets look at some approaches to creating fan driven income. Some programs may seem like no brainers and others will hint at where you can go with your own creativity. You know your fans best so you’ll have to apply that knowledge to whatever tools you have, execute programs to engage your fans, create reasons to buy and measure the results. Do not be afraid. Take it one step at a time.
Centralize your List
Get your fans and their contact information into one central place. The most benefit will come from centralizing your lists where you can track additional interactions (sales, promos, attendance) with ease. This is one of the core concepts of the Nimbit platform.
Import all your contacts into a real messaging system. Part of centralizing your lists is getting rid of doubles and getting all of your existing lists into one place.
Get Signup forms or links to signup forms everywhere it makes sense to capture a fan’s interest. Try to have all your forms go to the same system. If all your signups can post to one list, you won’t have to update constantly. From simple email forms to email for track widgets, keep it simple as possible to get all the signups to come into one list. (see the theme here? Make things easy on yourself.)
Give Away Free Music
Remember, Free really isn’t free. You should give away your music in return for some kind of engagement! At its most basic application, get an email in return for free music. Or drive fans to your store to “purchase” a free track. Encourage fans to forward a promotional link that gets the fan AND their friends a free track. Offer “Free” music for purchasing merchandise or a “boxed set” of albums.
Look at Free as a license to engage in a sales pitch with a new fan.
Using Social Networks
Whatever social network you are thriving in, you should make sure you capture a fan’s email address in case you lose your social network page or your social network changes it’s mind about how you can engage your fans. Social networks are great but you eventually need an email address to identify a fan and track their interaction over time. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use the viral nature of your social network to launch a free track giveaway link or promotional code that trades free music for an email address. Nimbit makes it easy for you to create different promo codes for different networks so you can track the interest through the response of different social network channels.
CREATING REASONS TO ENGAGE (KEEPING YOUR FANS)
News and Alerts
The most important thing to keep in mind is whether what you have to talk about will be interesting to the audience that you are sending it to. Twitter fans are going to want short bursts of immediate news. Email subscribers might read a story if it’s interesting and engaging.
Everyone wants to win something! Contests can be for just about anything but the key is to make sure the prize is interesting yet easy to deliver. We’ve seen everything from VIP backstage access to a phone call from the band work as great prizes in contests. Whatever the contest is, it should be as entertaining to know who won as it is to win.
Friends Are Fans Too!
Tell A Friend / Bring A Friend. There is nothing more powerful than the recommendation of music by a friend. Fans fit the most sought after profile of the best sales teams! They are motivated by their emotional tie to your music. So don’t hesitate to engage them in sharing your music with a free promotional link or rewarding them with VIP access or a download card for bringing someone new to your shows.
Reward Good Behavior
Don’t promise bonuses, give rewards. For instance, send everyone who spent more than $10 in your store last month a thank you note with a free download. Whatever you decide to reward them with, try to make it special and feel exclusive. We’ve seen everything from live board recordings to physical VIP access passes as rewards for shopping direct!
CREATE REASONS TO BUY (MAKE YOUR FANS VALUABLE)
Support The Arts
Fans seem to understand this better than they understand that you should pay for music! Strange but true. So make it clear that buying from you directly supports the creation of more of the music they like.
When you sell direct, you have the opportunity to make that sale very special. First, you are making a direct connection with the customer. Second, you give them exclusive products and bundles that are not available anywhere else! You can’t buy a t-shirt and download bundle on iTunes! So create cool VIP packages and bundles. Change them often. Experiment and see what fans are willing to pay. We’ve seen everything from Signed CDs to VIP access sold at a premium with great success. VIP packages can be changed often and give fans reasons to buy directly from you. Why buy a ticket from Ticketmaster if you are offering a Ticket bundled with VIP access after the show, special seating and some live digital downloads? (you make a premium and the fan gets a new level of engagement.
Unique To Buying Directly From YOU!
I can’t overemphasize how important it is to make your direct to fan storefront a better deal all around. Offering better products through bundling, better pricing and more choices will engage fans to choose your store as the place to shop. Don’t expect to sell direct if you are pushing iTunes and selling your music at a higher price than iTunes or Amazon MP3. Packaging bonus tracks with your Album, giving a compelling price and emphasizing that buying direct is supporting the artist are all compelling reasons to engage.
It May Not Be About Buying the Music
A fan that shows up at a gig is as valuable as a fan that buys music but never shows up to a gig! So don’t discount the fans that don’t buy music. Take all the folks who you know consume your free giveaways and offer them a great deal on VIP tickets or Merchandise. Have download cards that you only give away at shows so that you can track which fans are actually coming to gigs. As long as they are paying a cover charge, they are supporting you!
MEASURE AND DO IT AGAIN (FANS ARE A SCIENCE)
Confirm Your Hunch
It’s difficult to know you had a good marketing idea if you don’t have a way to measure it. It’s not that hard. Download cards at shows can give you an idea of how many fans come to shows and care about getting more of your music. Using a promo code to giveaway a track will tell you much of the same info except make it easy to see where on the internet you are getting the best response.
Never Give Up
Don’t be afraid to try things. Put together different levels of packages ranging from free to very pricy. See what sells. Change prices and try again. Sometimes fans don’t connect with a specific track that you giveaway and sometimes they take off like wildfire. The key is to measure what moves and what doesn’t. Look for the clues and try again.
Perfect What Works
Look at how many people read your emails and when they read them. Believe it or not, 25% or better open rate is good! 10% or better click through on a link is good! If you are doing that well or better, keep messaging. If the open rate goes down, you may be sending too many messages. With Nimbit you can even track what day and time is best to send a message. Use any type of measuring tool you can to get feedback on your marketing.
If something works, by all means repeat it until the approach gets old. But watch the numbers to avoid oversaturation.