James Carr

Believe it or not, I didn’t always want to be an SEO Specialist. As a teenager, I didn’t have posters of Tim Berners-Lee and John Mueller on my bedroom wall, and I didn’t ever picture myself sitting at a desk in an office.

I wanted to be a musician. A guitarist and singer to be precise. The posters on my bedroom wall were for bands like Nirvana, Metallica, System of a Down, Guns n Roses and Smashing Pumpkins. So, I got good. Good enough to go to university and study music, because all the best rock musicians have degrees (obviously).

Somehow, against all the odds, being a musician led me to work in marketing. It’s a tale as old as time: Start a band, melt faces at gigs, get absolutely zero attention from women, start a moderately successful wedding band, start mucking about with marketing and end up enjoying it.

I did a work placement at a local agency. They hired me. Eventually, I joined Coast, and here I am. To my surprise, I found that many of the skills I developed as a musician are directly transferable to marketing.

Here’s what I learned…

1. Know your audience

I cannot count the number of times I’ve been in a band, we’ve fired into a song, and it has absolutely bombed. With the benefit of hindsight, “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred* was a bit of a risk at a wake**, which highlights point number one.

Whenever you’re working on any form of marketing, you have to know your audience. More than that, you have to understand exactly what they need at each stage of their journey. Converted to relate to music: You never come out and play your most well-known song first.

In marketing, you don’t need to try to convert your audience on their first interaction with you. You need to understand where they are in the moment and guide them along the customer journey.

2. Use a variety of marketing channels

The majority of marketing channels can be applied to almost every business, and often in slightly different ways. The importance is to make sure you position yourself in a way that means you can most effectively reach your target audience.

Can you use social media to reach new potential customers? Do it. Can you use PPC to target potential customers to perform specific actions with your business? Add it to your efforts. Can SEO improve how your website ranks against high-intent keywords? Make it so.

During my time as a musician, I dabbled in pretty much every marketing channel you can think of, including having a stand at wedding fayres and selling to people in person (which will no doubt surprise most of my colleagues). The point is, the wider you spread the net, the more likely it is your marketing efforts will bear fruit.

3. Engage with your audience

Ever been to see a band where the musicians just stare at their feet and never address the audience? Unless that’s what you’re into, it’s REALLY boring. There’s nothing to relate to. Very little for people to tell their friends about.

Musicians are trained to add some patter between their songs, purely for that reason. We’re also trained to develop stagecraft and performance skills. People have come to hear the songs, yes. But there has to be something else to hold their interest during, and between, the songs.

If a guitarist breaks a string, you need to fill that time while he swaps guitars or changes the string. When a singer needs a quick drink before a big song, stick a drum solo in there! Need to retune between songs? Introduce the next song with a bit of a story. It’s all done to make sure the audience is kept interested between the bits they paid to see.

The same is true in marketing. There will inevitably be quiet periods or gaps in your customer journey where you risk losing people. Fill those gaps with something worthwhile and you’ll keep your audience engaged and ready to interact with the next stage in the journey.

4. Measure Your Results and Adjust Your Strategy

Applause. Cheering. Dancing. Singing along. Setting off a smoke grenade, in the case of my sister’s wedding***. All are measures of appreciation from a live audience.

If you get the same reaction each time, you know what’s working. Equally, if a song doesn’t get positive feedback, you can be fairly sure it doesn’t work. It’s all measurement of results and adjusting your strategy to suit.

The same is true of marketing. If you try something and it works, review and adjust it to make it as effective as possible. Alternatively, if you change something and it has a negative impact, change it back to how it was before. In marketing, there is never any shame in admitting mistakes, as long as we learn from them.

Always leave them wanting more…

There you have it. An introduction to how being a musician is responsible for my entire career in marketing, and how many of the skills that served me in bands have continued to be useful while working at agencies.

Whether you are a musician or a marketer, the principles of knowing your audience, creating a unique brand identity, utilising a variety of marketing channels, engaging with your audience, and measuring your results are crucial for success. I would also throw in the ability to stand in front of a group of people and be heckled by someone who can’t do what you do, but that would be petty.

Amp up your marketing efforts with a touch of rockstar flair! Reach out to our digital marketing experts and let’s make some noise in your industry.

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*Yes, it was genuinely on the setlist.

**No, we didn’t actually play it at a wake, but it never went down as well as we thought it would.

***Yes, I saw you do it, and no, you are not forgiven.

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