GUEST POST – This week’s guest post is by Gordon Ogden. Gordon has built and led an award-winning Web development agency, driving profitability for online brands and Fortune 100 companies. He’s an innovator who leverages cutting-edge technologies to design and implement popular, revenue-generating Web-based applications. He’s become an expert at assembling high-performance virtual teams, utilizing offshore talent to decrease Web design and production costs. To sum it up Gordon is a direct marketing and social media expert with proven results. You can follow him on Twitter @gordonogden
A fan site, whether you perform solo or you’re a member of the band, is a great way to reach out and engage your existing fan base and actually grow it. More people show up for your gigs, a web site creates word of mouth (WOM) and serves as an outlet for audio downloads.
Yeah, but who’s got $5K to pay some pricey web designer? That’s cash that could be spent on a better sound system, or money to repair the bandwagon. Fortunately, you don’t need a site designer. You can build your fan base without blowing the budget out the back door – if you do it right.
1. Go with a quality web host. There are freebie host sites, low-ball host sites and web hosts that provide all the tools you need to create a slick site complete with a blog, forum, performance updates and even videos.
The freebie hosts post their ads on YOUR site. And the low-ballers don’t provide a basket full of site building software. Quality hosts give you everything you need to build a good looking site for about $10 a month. You also get 24/7 tech support. It’s worth it to keep your fans in the loop.
Spend a little extra; get a lot more.
2. Build interactivity into your site. Add a blog, a forum, a bulletin board or some other means to enable fans to post their comments to your site. This builds your performance creds. Nothing builds WOM like referrals from existing fans.
3. Update regularly. Post performance dates. Answer posts to your site’s blog. Reach out and make a personal connection with those people who “talk up” you or the band. Regular updates also create site stickiness – keeping visitors (your fan base) coming back to see what’s new and where you’re playing this Saturday.
4. Provide free downloads. Some fan sites sell downloads. When trying to expand your fan base, give it away. One fan downloads your signature song, rips a CD and passes it on to a friend. You can’t put a price on that kind of advertising. Make your gigs viral and build a fan base organically.
5. Integrate your fan site URL into all other marketing. Posters, business cards, head shots, band shots, performance videos – all of these should have your professional URL prominently displayed, i.e. www.ourbandsite.com is EVERYWHERE! It worked for Amy MacDonald. It’ll work for you.
6. Keep it simple. Keep web site nav tabs simple and clearly labeled. If new, curious site visitors can’t find what they’re looking for, they bounce. Oh, and they don’t become fans.
7. Employ a “look” that appeals to your existing fan base. If you’re fronting for a thrash metal band, the site look should be edgy – bright colors, scraggy type fonts and eye candy. LOTS of eye candy.
Conversely, if you’re playing weddings every Saturday, the look should be toned down. You can even include a play list from which the bride and groom can pick their favorite tunes.
8. Provide all contact info. Your telephone number. The number of your booking agent. An email contact, Skype IM – everything site visitors need to reach out and touch you in a profitable way.
9. Refine your site. Google, Yahoo, Inktomi, Bing – all the major search engines employ similar protocols to drive traffic to a site. Keywords – the words search engine users enter into the Google search box – should be refined over time to more specifically target the listeners you want to attract.
10. Add stuff for sale. T-shirts, coffee mugs, thumb drives, bumper stickers – walking, talking advertising for your next gig. Give this stuff away if you can, award it to the “Fan of the Week.”
A web site is a great tool for building a fan base AND a site community. You’ll see the same user names posting over and over. These repeat visitors know you, they like your music and they want to be a part of your success. So, give it away.
It’s the best, lowest cost advertising for gigs. Use the web. Post to YouTube. Show performance footage on site. Make your expanding fan base family.
Then, watch as the gigs start coming to you!