7 Branded Experience Marketing Tips for Artists and Writers

The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Jimi Hendrix Image by jbhthescots

Music biz marketer Corey Biggs interviewed me five times for the book to help artists brand and market themselves.

Based on those interviews, I have accumulated several branded experience marketing tips.

While I have simply protested the personal brand movement in the past, it’s better to offer useful guidance to individuals. This is particularly true for artists and writers who often have no choice but to market creative products and ideas under their names.

Generally, I still believe personal offerings work best when actual experiences deliver results, matched by positioning and look. This is different than a personal branding strategy which seeks to proliferate messaging using an architected image to win business.

Want proof? Everyone 35 and older knows what the Jimi Hendrix Experience had to offer, a hard psychedelic bluesy rock that no one has matched since. Other than overdose, I have no idea who Jimi Hendrix was.

That’s the difference between creating an experience based off a personality, and a personal brand strategy that seeks to create a famous person (at least in my mind).

Here are seven tips for personal experience marketing:

1) Focus on Actions

JK Rowling in the flesh!
JK Rowling via beebumble79

Building a branded experience to last extends beyond messaging. In the end, you have to judge brands, experiences and people by their actual product and/or actions.

From the public perspective this comes down to consistency and commitment. Yeah, you have to invest, go outbound, attract people to your experience, develop trust through responsible interactions, etc. But in the end, it’s the consistency of actions that builds influence and brand reputation over time.

With all content and outreach – regardless of medium – you want to your fans to think that you will be there when you are supposed to be.

Commit to serving your stakeholder groups with great music, art or writing, and deliver over and over again. They will come to trust and rely on you.

2) Map Positioning Back to the Experience

Madonna stencil
Madonna image by dng2280

So, we’ve discussed this a bit, but nevertheless use your branding and marketing messages to promise what you actually deliver. Authentic positioning backed by action resonates well with customers, and drives word of mouth marketing.

Don’t promise something you can’t deliver. It’s the fastest way to create a bad reputation.

This does not mean delivering lame dry messages out of fear of overpromising. Rather, put your customer’s goggles on, and tell them about the best parts of your experience.

Not sure what to say? Look at the actions and results of your efforts. There-in lies the truth!

Also, note that if your experience changes — and most artists and writers evolve over time — this approach gives you more flexibility to adapt messaging than a personal branding strategy. Madonna is probably the most historically successful artist at evolving her image to meet her music’s experience.

3) Go Beyond Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

So much focus today in the blogosphere is on the hot social networks. As a personal marketer, these things are important, but you have to understand that social networking/validation is just part of the picture.

You also need to consider content, search and traditional marketing tactics. Here are three quick tips that will compliment your social marketing effort.

a) Have a centralized well designed web site with strong calls to action to convert customers off of social media. Hopefully, you are blogging/publishing so you have regular fresh content. Also make sure that the site points outbound to those social outposts so that people can engage in conversations and share your content where they most prefer.

b) Use Google+ to get content and ideas indexed into Google. Google definitely uses social validation via + to rank content, and you want people to find you. Five +1s are more valuable than 50 tweets in that sense.

c) Make sure all of your traditional media – album covers, flyers, brochures, t-shirts — has that URL on it so people can come back to the site and get into your online marketing cycle.

4) Monitor Conversations

Monitor conversations at least once a day. You can set up your monitoring dashboard to alert you as things happen.

Take advantage of free monitoring mechanisms such as Google Alerts, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook searches, etc.

It’s up to you if you want to go in more than once a day to comment. Certainly, entrepreneurial artists and writers have other pursuits, but you must do this at least once a day. Once a week would be a disaster if a series of negative unresponded to reviews came out.

Fans are your customer evangelists and you need them. You want to bend over backwards to serve them online. Without them, your work won’t make it.

Whether they like it or not is really a question of taste, but why alienate people by not listening to them and being present for feedback? To me positive or negative, being present wins them over, and hopefully garners more support for future efforts.

5) Let Your Fans Embrace Your Experience

I recently wrote a post on SocialFresh with five quick tips to turn a consumer brand into an experience. An artist or writer can easily apply these tips.

Rather than rehash the whole post, in a nutshell: Use photos to expand the experience; monitor and respond (already stated above); publicly reward your biggest fans; crowdsource aspects of your experience like t-shirt design, etc.; and, let fans be a part of the experience via comment walls, etc.

To me these tips are about rewarding and empowering community members with privileges, recognition and access. You can even create ambassadors within the network to serve as community managers. These deputized community members will be forever loyal to your effort.

6) Leverage Events, Live Showings for Success

Peace Staircase
Peace Staircase by Thomas Hawk

Let people photograph and record your efforts (music, paintings, etc.). Be smart, the Grateful Dead were the first to do this, but many bands have caught on to the fact that letting people share their music experience creates fantastic word of mouth marketing.

Every show can be a word of mouth bomb in that market.

If you’re an artist, writer or photographer consider that the Tacoma Art Museum and Thomas Hawk have both successfully marketed their efforts by sharing pictures on Flickr and other social media.

As to not getting paid for the recordings, watermarked photos, writing etc. you know the quality will be less. I’d rather have four new customers than one locked down somewhat disgruntled person who can’t share their experience.

Don’t be an idiot like Prince and try to control it. Let people experience you, show how they like your work, and tell their friends.

7) Be Consistently Interesting

Radiohead @ Susquehanna Bank Center
Radiohead image by kennyysun

It’s funny how much we talk about content frequency, retweet ratios, comments, etc. as key determinants of influence. What really matters in interactions with people, particularly as an idea or art creator, is consistency, as mentioned in our first tip.

When it comes to engaging people online, you need consistency, but you also need to give people something to talk about.

Who cares about Eddie Van Halen anymore? Is there anything exciting or surprising about this old (super talented) gunslinger? No. He doesn’t nurture the fan base anymore, he simply cashes in.

Applied, give people things to talk about. Outtakes, surprise appearances, contests. Make things fun.

I think Radiohead is one of the best musical acts at this. They really have their community wound tight around their metaphorical finger.

What tips would you add for artists and writers?