How to Build an Effective Band Marketing Plan

By: Pat Watters
Published: February 19, 2017

If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all marketing plan for your band, I have bad news. It doesn’t exist. And even if it DID exist, it wouldn’t work. That’s because a truly effective marketing plan should be customized to what you want to accomplish, which resources are available to you, and who you’re trying to reach. But the steps below will help you map and execute a more efficient and effective approach to marketing your band.

1.  Develop a Clear and Measurable Goal

The first step to any band marketing plan should be to develop a crystal clear goal that you will be able to easily measure yourselves against. That “measurability” part is important. You wouldn’t buy lumber and nails and start building a house without a clear blueprint and vision in mind. The same is true for marketing your band.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can try to attack more than one goal at a time. But if you’re like most part-time musicians, ain’t nobody got time for that. You’ll be best served by prioritizing your goals, and focusing all of your effort on knocking them out one at a time. Here are a few examples of solid, measurable goals you can build a band marketing plan on:
  • Increase the number of people on our mailing list by 50% before the end of the year.
  • Book 50% of our 2018 shows outside a 30-minute radius of our hometown.
  • Increase attendance at all of our shows by 25% within the next 6 months.

2. Define the Objectives You Will Need to Meet to Reach Your Goal

Once you’ve clearly identified a goal for your band marketing plan, it’s important to map out benchmarks you think you will need to meet in order to accomplish that goal. These are your objectives. Objectives are kind of like sub-goals. If your goal was to lose 10 lbs. before summer starts, an objective might be to completely eliminate sweets from your diet or walk at least two miles per day five days per week.

But we ain’t trying to lose weight. Or maybe you are. None of my business. But for the purposes of this article, let’s assume you decided on the goal of increasing attendance at shows by 25% in the next 6 months. A few objectives that could support that goal would be:
  • Appear in the local paper’s entertainment calendar for every show you have scheduled.
  • Get at least 75 people to select “going” on our Facebook event for each show.
  • Get every venue you play at to commit to a defined minimum level of promotion for your show.

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3. Develop Strategies for Achieving Your Objectives

Of the 4 steps in your band marketing plan, this one is usually the most difficult to conceptualize. As a result, people often skip it and jump straight to tactics. Don’t be like those people. The strategies are important. This is where your band puts the meat on the bones of your marketing plan. Need some examples? Alright, if your objective was to get every venue to commit to a defined minimum level of promotion, your strategies could look like this:
  • Work minimum venue commitments into your standard show contract, so venues would know what’s expected of them in advance. Make it as easy as possible for venues to live up to their contractual obligations.
  • Contractually commit all venues to promoting the show on all of their social media platforms at least 5 times in the month leading up to the show.
  • Contractually commit all venues to hanging posters in the venue at least 2 months prior to the show.
  • If the venue has a marquee, contractually commit them to advertise the show on it for at least 7 days prior to the event.
  • If the venue has existing print, television, or radio advertising contracts, contractually commit them to using these channels to promote your show at least 2 weeks prior to the event.
4. List and Explain the Tactics Your Strategy Will Consist of

Tactics are the individual tools you will use to execute the strategies that meet the objectives that accomplish the goal. The tactics are the most tangible, and least important part of your band marketing plan. It’s not that they’re NOT important. But without the other parts, the tactics are usually a waste of time, effort, and money. And none of us have enough of those three things to waste them.

Yet, tactics are typically the part that most bands who don’t have a marketing plan jump to, if they do anything at all. I know it’s tempting to think of tactics first. But if you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish, or how and why you’re doing it, what’s the point?

If you’ve done the work to this point, developing the right list of tactics should be fairly easy. Tactics should not simply be a list of tools. Explain how you will use the tools to most effectively execute the strategies detailed in your band marketing plan. Based on the strategies listed above, here are some tactics I would go after:
  • Write (or rewrite) our performance contract to include minimum venue marketing requirements.
  • Create a poster template in PowerPoint that can easily be customized for each show. Develop customized posters at least two and a half months prior to the show and send to the venue.
  • Make sure the venue has access to our approved photos, and any other information they need to accurately represent our band and show.
  • Promote the show twice as hard on social media as I am asking the venue to, to set an example and demonstrate our willingness to pull our weight.

Time is your most limited resource. If you currently feel like the time you spend marketing is wasted, it’s likely because you’re don’t have a plan. Developing a thorough band marketing plan will help you extract the highest possible value out of the limited time you have to market your band.

Go make some noise!