5 Important Steps to Keeping Your Fans Satisfied

Keeping your fans means keeping them satisfied. Fortunately for you, this is not a moving target, unlike most of our love lives. There are some guidelines you can follow.

  1. Be Thankful – Your fans want to know that you value their investment of time, attention, and money. After all, they value what you offer them. So say thank you. Find small ways to give back—one-on-one meetings, notes, coupons, merchandise freebies, a sponsored coffee break. The method is up to you, but make the effort.
  2. Be Accessible – There is a basic etiquette that exists between rock stars and their fans. A star never refuses a reasonable request for an autograph or photo opportunity. In return, fans don’t bug them at inopportune moments…say, when they’re eating at a restaurant, or walking into a public bathroom. In your situation, you may never have to flee from an overexcited group of Japanese schoolgirls, but you should make time to interact with the people who are invested in your work. If you see them in public places, take the time to chat. Be sure to engage: make eye contact, ask questions, and show with your body language that you are paying attention and you care. Open various channels of communication with them: letters, e-mail, blog, Facebook, Twitter. If they contact you, offer an individualized response from a real human being. Nothing will turn your fans off quicker than an auto-reply, except maybe no reply at all.
  3. Be a Mutual Admiration Society – Showing confidence in your fans also demonstrates confidence in your band and your brand. Compliment them on their dedication and on their engagement with the world and your field. If someone tells you of a success they have achieved with your help, publicize it and congratulate them. Use your communication channels to praise them for their own accomplishments and for their efforts to support you. (Make sure you have their permission to do this first.)
  4. Be Responsive – As for questions and feedback, you can do this during face-to-face meetings, via surveys, or through various communication channels. Ask your fans what they think, what they need, and what they want. Listen closely and implement good ideas. If they point you in the direction of a new development, technology, idea, or market, then follow up and educate yourself about it. Be open to learning from them. And if they are unhappy about something, take the time to comfort and validate them. Listen and investigate complaints. Offer apologies when necessary and explanations where appropriate. Lady Gaga regularly responds to her fans on her Twitter feed. If she hears criticism of a performance, or an expression of disappointment, she sends a tweet quickly to affirm her commitment to providing what they expect.
  5. Be Proactive – If your fans are buzzing about something, explore it. If you discover something new and exciting, share it with them. Open an information exchange. Build enthusiasm by giving them advance notice of upcoming products or activities. Ask them for their help in spreading the word.

If you see an opportunity to meet demand, fill it! When it came to the attention of KISS band members that their fans had started holding conventions, they offered to step in and sponsor an official convention of their own. Instead of threatening to shut down unlicensed activity, they offered an enhanced experience based on the things their fans had created themselves. It opened the door to a whole new marketing channel for the band.

When you engage in these activities, pledge yourselves to doing them well. If you do something for your fans, go all in; don’t stop short or make half-hearted gestures. Don’t start projects that you can’t complete, and don’t throw yourself into something without forethought. True fans will forgive you the occasional flub, but if you consistently give them the impression of ambivalence by making your contact with them lukewarm or half-hearted, they will begin to feel that their affection for you is unrequited. There’s only so much love a fan will give you if you don’t return it.

For all that, you should embrace your fans instead of fearing them. Remember, they are predisposed to love you—that’s what being a fan means. If you keep the quality of your work high, stay consistent about your vision, and invest yourself in cultivating a warm relationship with them, they will do just about anything you ask. In them, you will have a tremendous source of energy and effort that you can mobilize to promote yourself.

Interview Your Ideal Fan

Find a couple of folks among your friends and acquaintances who represent your ideal fans. Ask them to participate in a mock interview with you. These people will portray the part of the “fan” and you will be the “rock star.” Let them know that the situation is fictional, but that the responses should be genuine and honest.With your idea, product, or service in mind, prepare a series of questions. Do any market research you might need in advance! Sit down with your ideal fans and interview them about what attracts them, what holds their interest, and what inspires their loyalty. Share the results with your band. If you want to expand the field, ask band members to complete a similar interview with the ideal fan of their choice

Demographics Are Just the Beginning

If you have any business savvy, if you didn’t sleep through your marketing classes in college, then you already know the importance of researching your demographic. What does your typical consumer look like? How old are they? What do they like to wear? Where do they shop? Which TV shows are their favorites? You can bet that the record executives at the major labels ask these questions when they are deciding how to promote an artist or whether to produce a record.Smart bands do this too, especially as they are starting out. Even a completely naïve musician understands that if you play emo rock and the gig turns out to be at a country bar, you could be in for a long and uncomfortable night. Where possible, bands try to book themselves into venues that are popular with the audience they want to reach. They make t-shirts with designs that they think those people will like. They put up posters in the restaurants and stores where those people shop. There is actually a cottage industry of consultants and training programs to help musicians perform demographic research and position their music as a marketable product.But demographic data will only get you so far. Don’t get me wrong! Market research is an important tool and you neglect it at your peril. But you can’t look at a demographic profile as the sum of what you need to know. A demographic is not a person; it is a statistical summary. Numbers aren’t fans, people are. It may help your band decide where your target market hangs out, but once you book the gig, it is up to you to get them to listen. You’ve got to play songs they want to hear! And if you do get their attention, you’ve got to draw them in and hold them; make them want more. You have to instill them with the belief that if they stick with you, there will be more of those songs to come.

Ultimately, you are seeking to trigger a conversion. You want each person who comes into contact with your work to go from being a bystander to being a listener (or a buyer, if you like) to being a fan. – See more at: http://www.eventglue.com/MMBlog/#sthash.zJd0ndfB.dpuf

Make Conscious Connections

As you build your set list, rehearse, and play your gigs, do so with the conscious intention of building and maintaining your fan base. Make the commitment to keep people informed of your doings at every step. Create opportunities for your supporters and potential clients to interact with you. Plan small and intentional acts of gratitude; respond when they make contact, and follow up on any leads they give you. Carry your cards or publicity materials everywhere you go. (Musicians always have a few bumper stickers in their cases and backpacks. Always.) Be available to people; answer e-mails and messages. If you really want to make an impression, send the occasional handwritten thank you note.

Whatever strategy your band creates to maintain communication with your fans, make sure it is a conscious strategy. Be consistent about it. Listen to your fans and make alterations as necessary. Never let it fall by the wayside.

Do You have a Set List?

Every band has collection of songs they play. That’s true whether they write their own stuff, use material someone wrote for them, or stick to covers. Those songs may be in various stages of development; before the band records or heads to a gig, they need to decide which are ready for public consumption and which need more work. The ones that are deemed ready, or at least ready for a test drive and feedback, are placed on a set list. There is often a serious discussion of the order in which to play songs, so that stronger material is interspersed with “iffier” stuff in a way that seems likely to get and hold the audience’s attention. This list is the reference point for the band’s performing activities. The set list is under constant revision as the band learns from their experiences. If one song bombs, it gets moved or removed. If another song does surprisingly well, the band puts it in an advantageous slot.

These conversations work best when they are open, honest, analytical, and cordial. If someone is having trouble learning a chord change, he should speak up. If the vocal is flat on that tune, the singer should be told. If the bass player noticed audience members dozing off during songs 3 and 4, everyone ought to talk about what that means. People can be very vulnerable during these conversations, so a healthy band has to balance frankness with appropriate vocabulary and tone.

You should do the same with your own products, services, or ideas. Which ones are your strongest? Which need more development? Which ones should be removed from your repertoire? You and your band should have intentional, serious discussions about these things. If you are running for public office, you have to talk about your message and ideas. If you are selling hard drives for small electronics, you have to discuss everything from the products themselves to how you are marketing them. If you don’t take the time to get on the same page, you won’t know what you are going to play when you get on stage. (Incidentally, that’s when embarrassing public arguments tend to occur.) Share information, point out problems, and discuss solutions and new ideas. This should be done on a regular basis and is especially important after any “gig,” that is, any significant event or activity that you undertake.

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How Fans Sustain Bands (and Brands)

Rock ‘n’ roll stardom, much like any other business, is built on brand loyalty. Why does the One Hit Wonder fade into obscurity? Because people like the initial product/song, but do not care enough for the brand to come back for more. Whatever interest might have driven the momentary success, subsequent songs do not create a strong connection between listeners and the band. Consequently, airplay decreases, album sales dwindle, and concert attendance drops. If musicians cannot build brand loyalty and repeat business, it does not matter how talented or dedicated they are. Eventually, their band will fizzle out. A solid fan base makes all the difference.To build a fan base, it isn’t enough that people like you and what you do. People don’t drive across three states in a station wagon with eight friends for something that they just like. A fan is someone devoted; someone who not only enjoys your work, but cares deeply about it. It has value; it adds meaning and pleasure to her life. A fan’s enthusiasm goes well beyond occasionally buying your product off the shelf or mentioning you at a party. A fan understands what your work is about (maybe even better than you), knows your band inside and out, and loves telling other people about you. He wants to share his enthusiasm, encourage other people to check you out, and help promote your success.Why? Because the more opportunities you get, the more of your product will be out there for him to enjoy. If you are truly good at fan relations, promoting you makes him feel a part of something, and he will celebrate your growth as if it were his own.It’s true for music, it’s true for business, and it’s true for your homeowner’s association. The people who believe passionately in Brand You are the people who are going to refer you. They invest their money in your products or services. They stay informed about your activities. They help you get elected and win awards. They are the people who post pictures of you on their social media sites, tweet and post updates on what you’re doing, carry copies of your business card in their bags, and generally get your message out to the world. Not only do you need them to survive, it is through them that you thrive.

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Your Band’s Greatest Hits

Get the members of your band together (your staff, your department or team, your family). Spend a few moments talking about the things you do well as a group. Then ask them what they consider your “greatest hits” to be. What have your greatest successes been? Your most memorable moments? What are the things the people are going to remember you for (the songs that will be played on classic rock stations for years to come)? Next, ask them about what they think your “new songs” should be.

What would they like to try doing as a team? Are there new technologies, methods, or markets? Are there new “instruments” they would like to learn to play or a new medium to explore? What skills does your band have to bring to a new song? What will you have to learn? Your band should not only be unafraid of change, but excited about the possibility of making change. If you are functioning well as a group, and everyone is on the same page about your vision and your commitment to pursuing it in the long-term, then the odds are good that the excitement will happen naturally. You’ll sound tight when you play your current hits, and you will be ready to write the new music, too.

Bands, like other successful organizations, function best if they master the balance between stability and flexibility. The ideal mix is: a stable line up (a core of competent members who stick with you through the years) a single and compelling idea that drives the whole group’s efforts a collective ability to produce appealing and high quality work in new situations as well as familiar territory A band can keep rockin’ for 30 years as long as it maintains its vision, stays focused on the long-term, and creates its own change. Your band will still face challenges, go through rough patches, and experience some strife. But in the end you will be much more satisfied and fulfilled individually and as a group. You will be a lot happier. And, you will be better positioned to keep your fans happy. Rock stars live and die by their fans, you know.

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Who Is Your Band?

You may not live your life on a tour bus, but I’m willing to bet that somehow, some way you are involved in a band. What areas of your life demand collaboration to achieve results?

The human resources director in a corporate office works with people across departments. Salespeople have a circle of managers and coworkers. A small business owner has to keep at least a couple of people on staff. A freelance writer has an agent, plus clients. An intramural softball coach has players all over the field.

And what about your household? Do you have a spouse or significant other? Kids? In all of these different situations, you must interact with others on a regular basis. Each person has different skills and a unique personality that impacts how you relate. You have to cooperate to get things done. You can ask for help to get things you want or need, and if you experience conflict, it can bring productivity to a grinding halt and make everyone miserable.

Sounds like a band to me.

Some members, let’s say the CEO or the parent, function like the drummer; they establish the rhythm that everyone follows and keep the beat. Others—support staff or assistant coaches for example—work like the bass player, adding strength to the beat and filling out the sound. Folks in middle management are like the rhythm guitar; they translate strategy into tactics and establish the pattern for the melody.

Your lead guitar and your vocalists are the public face of enterprise—your sales force, your publicity folks, etc.

The individuals and instruments may change from band to band, but one thing remains true: the music doesn’t happen without everyone’s participation.


Problem or Setback?

Here’s an acid test:

  • Can money fix it?
  • In time, will it go away?
  • Is it the product of one person’s actions?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, chances are you are dealing with a momentary setback. You can then take action to make a quick recovery: find sources of funding, wait it out, offer the person a chance to make it right or walk away, etc.

If you are dealing with a genuine problem, it’s time to call a band meeting and strategize.

Problem or setback, when obstacles come your way you should also take time to consider the possibilities. We all have to deal with things that we’d rather not face—offers that aren’t as good as we want, plans that don’t turn out as well as we hoped. Failures tend to glow like neon; they’re highly visible and seem to dominate the landscape. But the negative aspects of a situation can block your vision.

Problems aren’t typically bigger than opportunities; they’re just easier to spot. The positive aspects of a dilemma or difficulty take a bit more insight…a little more digging…a little more time. But chances are, they are there. As your band develops the ability to draw these out, they will give you the material you need to enact your own change.

How will your band take each setback and turn it around to a comeback?