Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Why is a "Call to Action" so Critical to Your Digital Marketing Efforts?

It is surprising the number of entrepreneurs that disregard the importance of a “Call to Action” (CTA) in their digital marketing efforts. Perhaps they simply do not know what a call to action is, forget to create and use one, or just plain do not think it is important.

A call to action is nothing more than a prompt - a prompt to get your customers to take a preferred action or do something that you desire them to do, like buy your product or donate to a charity. You could prompt your customer to take some other action such as visit your website, request a free copy of your latest CD or magazine issue, or sign up for your weekly newsletter.

A call to action prompts your customer to take a desired action, resulting in a preferred outcome. The concept has not changed since we have entered into the digital marketing age. It still has the same basic components as direct mail campaigns or Yellow Page ads did:

1.     A “no obligation statement” that removes or reduces risk and gives the customer the confidence to buy, such as “for a free 30-day, no-obligation trial…”
2.     Specific instructions on what to do next such as “click the button below.”
3.     Encouragement to respond right away or lose out: “Don’t wait! Offer ends this Friday at midnight.” In other words, a timeline that inspires the consumer to act immediately for fear of losing out.

Put together, the components listed above might sound like “For a free 30-day, no-obligation trial, click the button below. Don’t wait! Offer ends this Friday at midnight!” Many digital marketers use this type of CTA, because it is a revolving one. At 12:01 the next Saturday morning, the call is style valid, unless it was really meant to expire on a specific date.

A call to action should be placed on every piece of marketing communication, whether in print or digital media or even in a cold call (should you be so lucky to make it that far in the call). Without it, the entrepreneur has wasted money on the entire campaign. Simply putting a product or service out there without asking someone to buy it is akin to installing a swimming pool in your backyard and then not asking anyone to go swimming. It looks pretty, but it goes unutilized.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Marketing Your Music to the Internet Masses

With the world moving at the speed of Twitter, determining the best marketing strategy for your music (or any other product / service) can be a confusing proposition.  The best advice that I ever received related to this challenge came from one of my professors at Full Sail University, and it was two simple words: “try everything.”

In truth, he was lecturing us on how to market ourselves to potential employers after graduation, but I have found that the principle works equally well in marketing your music to the masses.

Obviously, not any one person or band can really try everything, but the point is to be open to all possibilities. To be open to all possibilities, you need to know what they are.

While in school, I became intrigued with the vast field of digital marketing, and learning about it completely changed how I market my clients’ music and run my company. Every musician and entrepreneur should take that course, because it is the portal to a completely new understanding of doing business on the Internet. If taking that course is not an option, a month’s worth of intense research on the topic would be well worth the time.

Imitation is still the sincerest form of flattery. After you have exposed yourself to the various digital marketing techniques that are available, remember to pay attention to what successful people are doing. After studying the subject, you will be surprised at how easily you identify the marketing tactics that are being used upon you, and if they are working, mimic them and use them yourself!

Nothing has really changed about marketing since the creation of the Internet except the delivery system. Marketing is still primarily about word of mouth advertising. This video by Gary Vaynerchuk provides good support for this notion. 

The good news for musicians and entrepreneurs is that now your mouth can be heard worldwide from a device you carry with you 24/7. BE CAREFUL. Just like in the old days, a bad reputation will spread just as quickly as a good one, and you do not want to find yourself in the middle of a McDonald's style hashtag battle for your reputation.

For more tips on successful music marketing, see this article on the CDBaby blog page.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Do You Have the Entrepreneurial Spirit? Three Simple Questions to Help You Decide.

While this is not intended to be an all inclusive list, your answers to the following three questions could help you determine whether or not you have what it takes to venture out into the world on your own as a entrepreneur.

1. What do I do better than anyone I know does?

The answer to this question should come almost immediately to mind. The key, however, is to be honest with yourself. Do not answer the question with what you aspire to do better or plan someday to do better than others. What is it that right now, at whatever stage of life you are in, sets you apart from your peers?

Some would argue that the first question you should ask is “what do I do that I love?” but there are many things a person might love to do that they are not necessarily good at and that no amount of training will remedy. (The opposite is also true: you can successfully train yourself to do something you hate, but that is an even more fatal career decision).

If you do something better than anyone you know, chances are you love to do it.  If you do not do anything better than the average Joe, you might want to consider another career path, like accounting.

2. Can I positively contribute to society by doing it?

The answer to this interrogatory will depend on your political bend, and since this is not a political blog, the answer is not addressed here.

What is important, however, is that each entrepreneur’s career path decision lies within his or her personal standards of morality. Temporary success can be achieved either way, but misalignment of career choice and moral standards will lead to intellectual conflicts and eventual failure.

Kathryn Hedges, starving artist / entrepreneur, does a good job of addressing the question of societal contribution from both ends of the political spectrum here.

3. What am I trying to prove?

Why is this question important? Only entrepreneurs and politicians know the answer.

There are many paths leading to entrepreneurialism, but whether you chose it or it chose you, there is a burning desire to prove something to someone, even if it is yourself. What evidence is there to support this notion?

Consider these two real-life examples:

Jason was born into money. He could have done anything in the world he wanted. He could have spent his entire life inventing, creating, or philanthrophising without fear of failure. Instead, he was content traveling the world in self-indulgent behavior without contributing anything to society except what he considered his irresistible smile. He felt no need to prove anything to anyone, including himself.

John was born into middle class. He worked his way through college and achieved middle-class status for himself and his family.  In order to maintain that lifestyle, however, he had to spend every day trading hours for dollars, meeting ever-increasing sales quotas, and living under constant stress.

One day, after paying a repairman a ridiculous sum of his hard-earned money to fix a pipe leak on his property, he had an epiphany, and he set out to prove to himself and his family that he could provide the same standard of living while working for himself. John has been a successful independent General Contractor for the past fifteen years.

If you had nothing to prove, you might not have the desire, determination, and willingness needed to see through on your idea during the tough times, and for most of us out here in EntrepreneurialLand, there have been plenty of tough times.