Raise your hand if you like public speaking.
I thought so.
Almost no one volunteers for that.
Next, picture yourself singing at an open mic.
Not. Gonna. Happen.
The very idea gives many people heart palpitations.
As a singer, you’ve got to put on your grown-up pants and pretend you don’t mind the loud-mouthed drunk yelling that she has no friends, the gazillion people looking at their Facebook feeds and the guy in the back corner giving you the stink eye.
It’s much like karaoke, but with more pressure and higher expectations.
Ready to sign up?
Fortunately, the rewards outweigh the risks and are similar to the benefits of marketing. Both give you an outlet for trying new material, honing your skills and building an audience of supporters.
It’s OK if you’re afraid to put yourself “out there,” whether you’re thinking about rebranding your company or unveiling a new song. The worst-kept secret is that everyone else is afraid, too.
Sometimes, you just have to take the plunge. After all, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.
Follow these tips from the open mic playbook to help you move forward with marketing:
- Tune out noise
No matter the setting, there will always be people who are talking or laughing at an open mic. It’s an unfortunate reality given that it’s a free event and usually involves hooch.
In the marketing world, pundits frequently talk over one another about the trends, tactics and best practices that are the new “industry standard.” The buzz can be overwhelming. Instead of chasing the latest and greatest approaches, focus on the internal. Do you have a marketing strategy? When was the last time you reviewed your marketing plan? Have you updated your marketing goals with evolving sales and business objectives?
- Plan ahead
Set lists keep singers on track. Before they go out on stage, they know which songs they’ll perform and in what order. Imagine how confusing it would be for the band if a singer chose songs at random at every concert. Similarly, a six-month or yearlong marketing calendar transforms haphazard promotions into comprehensive marketing strategies, making your company visible and credible. The calendar is a working document that you can revise and update throughout the plan year. Remain flexible as you may need to adjust tactics depending on your company’s goals and your clients’ needs.
- Take command
Ever heard of stage presence? That’s when singers take command of the stage. They draw their audiences in. They may crank up the volume, emote more than usual or dance. A singer who acts like a shrinking violet won’t last long.
Marketing success requires commitment from the top down. If the CEO doesn’t dedicate enough resources to marketing or conveys that it’s not worthwhile in other ways, it doesn’t matter how much the team wants to accomplish. Nothing will get done.
- Check tech
Amateurs sometimes come to an open mic without the right equipment or without having tested their gear to be sure everything is working properly. At best, it’s annoying. At worst, it causes people to head for the exits or tune out (see No. 1). Do yourself and your audience a solid and make sure your technology supports your marketing before you take the leap. Do you have a customer relationship management system or are you still using spreadsheets to track leads and sales? If you plan to send e-blasts to prospects, be sure they’ve opted in first.
- Skip comparisons
OK, so you’re not Il Divo or Renee Fleming. No one expects you to be. Making comparisons to singing or marketing celebrities sets you up for failure. Let’s face it: There can only be one Apple. Check out what the competition is doing, but don’t obsess over it. Educate people about your company and its culture, your industry expertise and how you solve problems. What value do you add? What insights can you share? Work on being your best self instead of worrying about what the “other guy” is up to.
- Practice, practice, practice
Achieving an outstanding performance comes from preparation. Singers warm up their voices and rehearse their sets before they set foot on stage. Being successful at marketing also requires practice. You can’t expect to get a tidal wave of response from one e-blast or a quarterly blog post. It takes a coordinated campaign, multiple channels, consistent messaging and repetition to be successful at marketing.
- Expect hiccups
Even the best singers make mistakes, but they keep going – they don’t stop in the middle of their songs. Messing up is a part of life. Similarly, don’t let perfectionist gremlins get in the way of your marketing initiatives. If a campaign didn’t work, try another. Just as singers test new songs with friends before presenting them in public, you can share your campaigns with key stakeholders and get their feedback before going live.
- Make connections
Singers are being vulnerable each time they perform because they must share a little bit of themselves with their audiences. Sometimes, they’re openly emotional on stage. Marketing is also about making connections. Be vulnerable when engaging with prospects – show your human side and appeal to their emotions. These strategies will help you build trust, credibility and long-term relationships that will drive brand recognition and sales.
- Show gratitude
Singers appreciate enthusiastic applause, compliments and standing ovations. In turn, audiences appreciate it when performers thank them for their support. Be sure to show clients that you’re grateful for responding to your marketing (meaning, they’re working with you). Everyone likes to feel a little love.
What strategies have helped you with your company’s marketing? Let us know in the comments below.