Measuring is good marketing

Not too long ago, a student complained to me that only six people showed up to his last show. He sent out an email newsletter to 1,000 fans, told his friends and family, and promoted the gig on his social networks. He told me he felt like a promotion loser (his exact words) and was ready to call it quits.

We turned to some basic analytic tools and quickly discovered that just over 10 of the 1,000 people on his email list were opening his newsletters. We focused on re-writing his next email with a catchier headline, more benefits, and a specific call to action. Not only did 628 people open that reworked email, 66 people showed up and paid. That’s a pretty enormous increase!

This reiterates a simple point: music marketing – in fact, all marketing – is not about “doing things,” it’s about “doing the right things.” The only way to know if you're doing the right things is to measure, and it's vitally important to your music career and your road to success.

How to measure

Measuring is nothing more than using systems to collect, analyze, and act on information that is relevant to the goals of your marketing plan. These systems include everything from web analytical tools (e.g. Facebook and YouTube can give you the geographic regions in which people are most interested in your music), tracking your merch sales at every gig and analyzing thoroughly if you experienced an increase or decrease in revenue, or just asking people at your gigs, “How did you hear about the show?” In the latter case, if no one responds with, “We saw your ad in the City Paper,” then you might want to consider not placing ads in that paper. It’s not that complicated!

What to measure

You can measure just about anything. For instance, measuring your local market's awareness of your brand, and whether you’re at the front of their minds in certain relevant categories (like “local NYC bands” or “studios in Atlanta”) can be helpful in determining the success of your current PR strategies.

Measuring your fans’ attitudes about your products (music, merch, live show) can help you assess their satisfaction with you and the likelihood they'll recommend you to friends and family or help market you on social media. And paying attention and measuring how well your products and services perform in each of your distribution outlets – what online outlets are moving CDs, what type of gigs are your best merch takes – can help you see where you’re generating the most sales, how you can strategize improving, and where you’re wasting time.

Why don’t people measure?

Despite the obvious benefits of measuring, a surprising number of bands and companies fail to develop a measuring strategy. They might argue that measuring is time consuming and that the overlap between different marketing activities makes it difficult to measure cause and effect.

While measuring is never 100 percent accurate, you don't need to develop a complex system and track every sale to its origin. The goal is to develop an easy-to-execute measuring strategy that helps you keep score and be more efficient. A laptop computer, Excel software, index cards, and online tools are probably all you really need.

Without a measuring strategy in place, you can quickly flush hundreds or thousands of dollars down the drain marketing your act and your shows. As the pioneering marketer and merchant John Wanamaker said: “Half the money I spend on marketing is wasted. The problem is, I don’t know which half!” A well-thought-out and well-executed measuring strategy can help you work smarter and faster, use your time and financial resources to their fullest potential, and help you better understand what your target audience responds to.

If you can measure it, you can manage it, so be sure to create a marketing measurement strategy and put it to use!

Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician, Business Basics For Musicians, and The Five Star Music Makeover (published by Hal Leonard Books). Get these books at any fine online store in both physical or digital format. NOTICE: Any use or reprint of this article must clearly include all copyright notices, author’s name, and link to