Whether you’re an independent musician/artist or the owner of a small boutique or studio for which you’re trying to build an authoritative local presence, there are certain steps that need to be taken to get you off the ground and in the game. The old adage “if you build it, they will come” no longer applies in today’s highly competitive music & arts industries. In fact, while the quality of your art/music is definitely still important, marketing and promotion have almost become more essential for brand new entities trying to make a name for themselves. After all, without visibility, your prospects can’t find you, and without prospects you won’t have clients. With that said, here are seven things any music or art studio can do to effectively brand itself and gather initial momentum.
1. Signage and Graphics
Nobody is going to recognize or be attracted to a blandly decorated studio that just popped up out of nowhere and appears to be run by an amateur. No, to truly have an impact on the local market, you’ll want to catch eyes and inspire “oohs” and “ahhs” with storefront signage and graphics that match the awesomeness of your studio’s work. Of course, unless you’re a graphic designer and sign maker, this may require some initial investment, but it’s well worth the cost when you consider what it can do for your burgeoning brand. Fortunately, platforms like Custom Graphix and SoundMoz blog make it easy for businesses of all kinds to design and bring their artistic vision to life through a variety of print & sign types.
2. Social Media
In addition to making the storefront of your studio larger than life, it’s also important to do the same for your online presence. While having an official website is certainly a start, for maximum exposure, you’ll want to have active profiles on all of the major social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Starting a group, posting frequent status updates, and promoting upcoming events or discounts is a great way to use social networking to your advantage. You can also give prospective clients an incentive to come to your studio by offering exclusive discounts through your social media pages in exchange for likes, shares, and comments. Likewise, starting a YouTube channel and building a subscriber base is another way you can introduce your brand to the world.
3. Blogging & SEO
Consider starting a blog and posting content relevant to your niche or industry. For an artist this could be something as simple as explaining the inspiration and process behind one of your works, or something as complex as a detailed tutorial. Using SEO tools to conduct keyword research is a good way to generate additional web traffic and overall brand awareness. You may also want to try guest authoring blog posts on other sites that have relevant audiences. Usually, you’ll be able to link back to your studio’s website within your author bio at the bottom of each blog post. Blogging a good way to not only draw attention but also showcase your professional expertise and knowledge in written format.
4. TV & Radio Ads
Although paying for airtime on radio or TV channels can get expensive, it may be worth the investment if you’re able to land a few initial sales, clients, and notoriety from it. Networking with local stations is one way you might be able to squeeze in a promotion without paying a hefty fee. If you do decide to shell out the funds for a premium TV or radio advertisement, be sure to invest in the quality of the advertisement itself as well. Because of the cost of this advertising method, it’s typically reserved as a secondary promotional method once business has already started to pick up.
5. Classified Ads
Many people overlook classified ads as an archaic form of promotion but believe it or not they can still be quite effective. Plus, you can post an online classified ad for free using sites like Craigslist. While the overall results achieved by these ads might not be spectacular, since they’re either free or low-cost it’s a worthwhile addition to any marketing campaign. Of course, it’s important to put your ad in the proper category and include images to give it more appeal and authenticity.
6. Flyers & Business Cards
Posting flyers and handing out business cards might seem a bit aggressive, but it’s a surefire way to make sure your studio becomes known by a lot of people very quickly. Even if most of the people who encounter your cards or flyers have no intention of ever visiting your studio, they’ll be able to recommend it to friends or family who might be interested later on. Thus, the purpose of this approach is not necessarily to directly or immediately increase sales, but to generate overall awareness.
7. Freebies and Open House Promotions
Finally, a great way to get people to come to your studio is to use open house events like parties, raffles/giveaways, and other incentives. A music studio might benefit by offering up complimentary recording services to local artists for a limited time, while an art studio might have some of its artists provide free portraits during a special event. Even though you’ll be giving something away to get people in the door, a percentage of the people who show up may wind up doing business with you at a later date.
Never Underestimate the Power of Promotion
Many studio owners, artists, and musicians don’t focus on promotion enough, yet spend most of their time and effort working on their craft and striving for the best service and quality. Unfortunately, even the best-finished product won’t receive the recognition they deserve if there isn’t a basic promotional effort to give it a running start. Once you’ve attracted a core clientele, things should get easier because word of mouth will do a fair amount promotion on autopilot. However, until your studio makes a name for itself, it would be wise to utilize all of the advertising methods listed above simultaneously for the best possible results.