How to Successfully Self-Market Your Band or Business: Interview with Nickolas Blazina from ‘State and Madison’
You haven’t been to a concert in ten years, but I bet you fifty bucks there’s still a band t-shirt in your closet. Whether it’s been saved because for continued fan support or for sentimental value (I can’t bear to toss my ‘N Sync t-shirt from 2000), that band t-shirt will always double as a band promotion.
Yet, self-marketing a band goes far and beyond just a cool line up of promotional products. The best local bands might not even be heard if they don’t network, actively seek out new fans, or interact with their current fans.
State and Madison is a Chicago-based band that’s doing everything right. The band members are approachable and funny, hold contests, and repeatedly reward their loyal fans.
In late 2010, the band announced a karaoke contest for their single “Hot Damn.” Fans were encouraged to submit videos of themselves singing the song. Some submissions were simple sing-to-the-camera productions while some were scripted, customized epics. The prize? A private concert with the band: a low-cost, but highly motivating prize. The result was far-reaching: spreading State and Madison’s name.
Nickolas Blazina, State and Madison’s lead singer, shared his band’s marketing tips which YOU can use for your own band or brand.
Nickolas Blazina performing live with his band, State and Madison
What merchandise is the most popular among fans?
The off-the-beaten-path items like slap bracelets have been great for us. Everyone has t-shirts, but if you can find something that will make people smile because they haven’t seen it in a while, it makes a bigger impact.
What experience do you have with using or receiving promotional items like stickers, promo CDs, etc. with your own and other local bands?
Typically I won’t take anything unless I have a conversation with the promoter first, and I’ve found the same to be true on the other end. When we talk a little with prospective fans, we always find less of our flyers and promo CDs on the ground than when we just blindly hand things to people. People appreciate appreciation. A little concentration on the individual goes a long way towards having people give you a chance.
How do you spread your band’s name and music?
We hand paint signage like human sandwich boards to advertise our shows. We just made a homemade 3’ x 9’ banner advertising our House of Blues show on June 18th. We are carrying that one all over town. We do print flyers, too, but again, if you can get people to come to you for them instead of bombarding them while 39 others do the same thing, your flyers go home. The others don’t.
How do you think contests get fans engaged with local band music?
Anything that engages a fan is worth doing. A great example is the band South Jordan. They do very well at reaching out via social media to those willing, and moreover, excited to help their band grow via word of mouth campaigns (tweets for a new track, etc).
What are some of the easiest ways to seek out new fans?
There is no easy, only less/more creative. The more creative and the less intrusive the better. In earlier years, you could hand out flyers after a show and it would make a difference. Now, literally 40 other people hand out flyers at once for different events and it’s very easy to get drowned out if you don’t take a chance: maybe embarrass yourself a bit. A hot dog suit for example.
How is social media (Twitter, Facebook) important to marketing your band?
Twitter sure is. Facebook is becoming a bit like MySpace in that everyone has figured out how to send mass, faceless emails to all their “friends”. It’s making it a bit obsolete. Like I said before: the more personal the better.
What do you do differently from other local bands to inspire fan loyalty or engage new fans?
Try and write songs that can’t be denied. You write good stuff and good things follow. Go promote a piece of junk though, and the loyalty will be hard to come by.
Anything else you’d like to tell me about local band marketing?
There are no rules. Do something different. One time I dressed up in a full on Hulk Hogan costume and went to pass out flyers. Who wouldn’t approach me to see what that was all about?
What bands and businesses can learn from Nickolas:
- Personally engaging your customers is the best way to earn their loyalty. A few minutes of conversation at tradeshows, fairs, or meetings costs you nothing but has a high return potential.
- Promoting low-quality products or services will do nothing for your brand. This may seem obvious, but cutting costs or corners to aim for a better bottom line is not the way to earn customer loyalty.
- A little creativity goes a long way. In a society constantly assaulted with advertisements, a unique promotional product or marketing idea can make all the difference.
What are some other unique ways to market local bands or businesses? Have you ever sought out a business or band because of their interesting marketing?