Preparation: What every quartet should know
By Todd Wilson, ACOUSTIX TENOR
[Editor's note: Due to the length of this article, it is being presented in four parts, this is the first.]
Marketing And PR
Tools For Success
The PR job is everyone's. Every member of your group should carry business cards. These can be reproduced by a professional printer or printed on an Inkjet or LaserJet printer. These should be handed out like candy to all potential clients or members.
Dedicated Phone Line And/Or Voice Mailbox
Get a business phone line that is answered by a live voice during office hours or have the line forwarded to a voice mail system to announce information to callers and allow the caller to leave a message. Securing a business phone line will also get you a free Yellow Pages ad, which can generate calls for entertainment opportunities.
Computer Hardware and Software
For word-processing, database management, ad design, PR materials and e-mail marketing, use a computer and printer loaded with graphics and PR documents related to your group. Invest in a scanner to digitally capture important or memorable pictures of your group for immediate incorporation into your promotional materials.
Use a fax machine or WinFax Pro software or e-mail to broadcast press releases to many different media contacts with the touch of one button. Your fax can also be a way of accepting orders for recordings and sending contracts or PR stuff to clients.
Design a slick PR kit that tells them who you are, what you do, and why they should hire you. A similar package can be customized to present to potential members when they come to their first chapter meeting. It could include most of the information contained in the PR kit but could also contain a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section.
The Mailing List
At gigs, offer a door prize drawing (free set of CDs) to gather names for your mailing list. Maintain and constantly update your mailing list on the computer with all past booking and media contacts as well as local and regional media outlets, talent agents, meeting planners and show patron contacts. Mail or FAX itineraries to folks in your client base to keep them informed of where you'll be appearing in the future. If requested, my group sends pre-printed mailing labels to every promoter that hires us to help them sell more tickets and fill the audience with our fans.
This adds value to your package and gives the promoter more incentive to hire you over another group. Most groups have a mailing list. But they are clueless about its power.
Good Quality or Professional
Photos of Your Group
Stock a quantity of 8X10 color and black and white photos with your group logo and contact information.
I recommend ABC Pictures in Springfield, Missouri, and give away the black and white photos at all public appearances. They are much more effective than a business card, but use those, too. The 8X10 B&W photos will cost $.11 each and the color shots cost $.40 each.
Establish a presence on the WWW (a Web page is like a billboard that can be accessed by folks surfing the 'Net worldwide). Secure your our own domain name, to make it very easy for someone to find your official page.
The ability for someone to download sound bites and graphics of your group adds a nice touch. Our recent tour of Austria came about from a client in Graz that came across our Web page and downloaded sound bites from our CDs.
The Web site can be set up to gather name/data for your mailing list, just like you should do at your concerts. The site should include photos, biographies, contact information and email links. The site must be updated often. You can have a single Web page or a detailed site with dozens of pages. Your site can also generate recording sales, though I would recommend setting up a secure server for handling credit card and other sensitive client information.
I do a vast majority of our correspondence via e-mail, which also reduces the expense of long distance calls.
Promoting Your Site
Creating the Web site is only part of the equation.
People have to be able to find it. Registering the site with the top search engines can be done for a nominal fee. Have the Webmaster insert meta-tags within your site to have it listed higher whenever online searches are performed. Registering with the search engines will enhance the results from your online presence. Your group's e-mail address and Web site also needs to be printed on all business cards, letterhead, marketing literature and show programs, as well as mentioned on any voice mail announcement box.
Usenet postings can be placed in all appropriate "Usenet" newsgroups in your area. Some of these can be used to promote upcoming appearances, solicit booking opportunities and recording sales.