Advertising without breaking the bank.
Every year at NAMM, I’m always amazed by the number of boutique manufacturer offerings on the floor. There are so many great instrument and accessory builders out there with some really impressive product. Unfortunately, because of limited marketing budgets, many players will never know about some of these products.
As a small manufacturer, your goal is probably to scale up. Scaling up means getting the word out and increasing orders. To get the word out, you’ll have to start advertising. So what can you do to help promote your brand on the cheap? Here are a few low-cost/high-impact initiatives you can use to get your communications program started.
1) Social Media
While there’s no marketing magic bullet, a well-thought-out social media effort is as close as you’re going to get to one. This is probably why you already have a presence. The question is, have you really thought about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it?
If you’re posting random thoughts, pictures, etc., you should dial back your expectations of performance. If you want to start making some noise, you’re going to have to build a content strategy. The key to a successful social media effort is giving your audience something of value. I’m not just talking giveaways either. Musicians are a pretty passionate audience that craves information. Show them what you’ve got, whether it’s a new product release, product tips and tricks or behind-the-scenes photos. Thoughtful content is a surefire way to build an ambassador base.
Few things are more important than Google. It’s where we all start our product research, which means you’ve got to get on page 1. Not an easy task considering the level of competition. It’s also not going to be cheap if you go to an SEO firm. There is a low-cost way to improve your search rankings, though. Content.
Google’s job is to deliver the most relevant search results to its users. If you want to be found on Google, your top priority will be developing content—as much as you can. Think videos, pictures, tutorials, and ESPECIALLY a blog. Keep your content fresh and relevant to your audience, and customers will be able to find you when it counts most.
3) Online Communities
One quick search on Google will reveal tons of communities dedicated to and run by musicians. The two things we know about musicians are that they love talking about gear and they almost always get recommendations and reviews from fellow musicians before they buy. These two truths make online communities a gold mine.
As a thought leader, you should be participating on as many communities and threads as possible. Don’t just go in there with a sales pitch about your product. Engage in conversation, offer insight and recommendations even if they don’t include your product. If you are transparent about who you are and sincere with your efforts, the trust you build will make you a credible, go-to source within player communities.
4) Press Releases
Looking at your preferred player magazine or website, you might think your brand is too small to appear in such lofty media. The truth is most media outlets are starving for content and gear to review. If you’ve got a new product to feature, make sure you craft a well-written press release and submit it to as many pubs/websites as possible. It can take a lot of phone calls/emails sometimes, but the potential eyeballs are worth the sweat equity.
Hosting a clinic at your local music retailer is a great way to introduce a potential buyer to your product at no cost. Retailers like the idea of any event that potentially draws traffic to their stores, so start knocking on doors and asking if you can host an event. Note, however, this is not a sales pitch. You’ll need to come to the table with some kind of learning experience for the attendees. Promote early and often on all social channels and in-store to increase attendance.
6) Branded Swag
This is probably the oldest trick in the book, but there’s no denying players love free stuff. From the NAMM show to the dealer floor, branded swag is quick to disappear. If you’ve got a cool brand and logo, it would be a good investment to brand gear such as picks, stickers, polishing cloths, shirts, etc. Some of the cheapest advertising you can find is ambassadors willing to display your brand.