The Value of Cross-Pollination

When formulating the marketing strategy for your creative work, it’s important not to overlook the value of cross-pollination. You may be able to reasonably assess who makes up your target demographic, but that doesn’t mean the direct approach is the only, or even the best, way to reach them all.

It has been said that it takes a full seven encounters with a product or brand before a consumer will decide whether or not they want to engage with it. Directly addressing a potential client or fan seven times before you know if they even like you can verge on harassment, leaving them with a distaste for whatever it is you represent.

Spreading out your marketing initiatives can lull people into familiarity with your brand before they even know you’re out to get them (in the nicest sense). Let’s think about some of the diverse avenues, for better or worse, that you could use to market yourself:

  1. Direct mail
  2. Phone solicitation
  3. Social media (Twitter, Facebook . . . )
  4. Artist promotion sites (Bandcamp, SoundCloud . . . )
  5. Print ads
  6. Radio ads / airtime
  7. TV ads
  8. News coverage
  9. YouTube channel
  10. Playing out (clubs, tours, open-mic nights . . . )
  11. Word of mouth

We’ve already got a pretty hefty list here without getting too specific. But it’s safe to say the closer you are to a potential fan to begin with, the better your chance of engaging their interest; if you’ve got a band in Wisconsin and you start cold-calling people in California, they’re probably not going to be nearly as excited as if they remember you first-hand from high school assemblies and can’t believe how far you’ve come in the last 10 years since moving into your mom’s basement.

How else can you give fans a direct experience with your product without making them feel forced into listening? If we may move from one level of ridiculous to another, check this out: Lady Gaga just invaded 111.3 million American living rooms by playing the Super Bowl LI Halftime Show—scratch that, 117.5 million (viewer numbers actually went up during the break).

So she didn’t get paid a cent for the performance, the kind of treatment generally considered a slap in the face to musicians worldwide (according to Forbes, neither did Madonna, The Black Eyed Peas, Bruno Mars, Coldplay, Katy Perry, or Queen Bey at their respective Super Bowl performances). But even an artist who brings in an estimated $1.3 million per city on her own tour can benefit from some cross-pollination.

Gaga provides the Super Bowl with a superstar who, albeit upstaging the main event, adds another 6 million viewers to their roster; in return, the sensational performer gets a fully funded $10 million production to play around with. Let’s just say that every one of her 61 million Facebook fans was watching the game; that’s still another 56 million potential fans she had the chance to win over with shock and awe and utter bedazzlement. It’s not unheard of for an artist to double their music sales after a Super Bowl performance. Not a bad payoff really.

Okay, so you might be nowhere near Super Bowl halftime show status—it’s a rare few who make it that far—but this principle can be applied on a smaller scale and still work out well for you. Say there’s a small restaurant in your town that’s dead on Wednesday nights, and you happen to have an empty space in your schedule. You could offer them live music to help increase midweek traffic, in exchange for a meager meal and a few bucks for gas (your version of $10 million production costs!). As the place gets busier, you get more listeners and hopefully a good stream of regulars. With any luck, these listeners will turn into the best kind of fans—the ones who know you already, like your work, and are happy to hear from you.

Once you’ve got their attention, get them on your mobile mailing list so they never miss a beat. Who knows, the next meteoric rise to halftime status might just be yours!

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