So, I wrote earlier this week about SWOT analysis and think it’s one of the most important things you can do in developing your bands brand. However I’ve also been learning about SMART marketing lately and I want to share its magic with you. While it’s maybe not as straightforward as SWOT it’s definitely something that you are going to want to look into and something we’ve sort of touched on in the past and could definitely dedicate more time to understanding. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time bound. Now if that’s not something that I’ve been pushing y’all to do with this blog for months now then I don’t know what is. So let’s get right down to it!
Specifics are key for any band, especially one in niche underground markets. After all – how do you expect anyone to give a shit about your music if you can’t specifically target the people who seem to be the most in tune with it. Beyond that if you don’t have specific goals as to what you want to do and when then you’re just going to sit around trying to come up with ideas on ‘how to get big’ and have no real plan, leaving you in the boring rut that most bands seem to find themselves in after a few months. Nothing about having specific goals is hard if you do your research you just need to make sure that they are there and that they are going to have at least some impact on what the future of your band can be.
Now measurability is something that I feel like very few bands have a decent grasp on. Most acts seem to want to rate this exclusively on sales, but if you look at trends in the music industry that’s not really a good idea. Nor is streams because even that model has subtle shifts that dramatically impact your numbers from album cycle to album cycle. I’m not saying sales shouldn’t be a part of it, but you need to be smart in how you incorporate them. Perhaps more important is the number of social media followers you have and Youtube views you get. Also important is to see the amount of money you are getting at shows and the number of people you are drawing (Though it would make sense that those numbers were related) Beyond that, look at things like merch sales and superfans, sometimes atypical metrics like licensing placements are the best way to judge growth. Just make sure that whenever you set specific goals you have a way to measure your progress towards them!
Another thing that bands seem to struggle with is having actionable goals. Wanting to get your song placed in a major film is cool and all, but if you don’t have those kinds of connections then how the hell do you think that’s going to happen? The same goes for wanting to get on a big tour package – it’s not going to happen right away. Rather look at your resources and realize what you might be able to do in a way that makes sense. For example, while you might not get to tour with a genre leader you could probably work with a slightly bigger band in your local scene to do a few weekend runs in your general area. Also realize that actionable goals tend to be small, you should be able to knock them out quickly and easily and then after a while you’ll look back and see a mess of successes!
The relevance of your goals is also crucial The R in SMART sometimes also stands for ‘road mapped’ and these ideas are one and the same. You need to make sure that the individual steps in your strategy are such that they make sense in context and relative to each other. If you’re trying to become a strong touring act in your region then your goal of playing at least one international festival isn’t going to make a whole lot of sense. At the same time if you are trying to focus your energy on licensing music you shouldn’t spend a ton of time outside the studio unless you have enough contacts locally for playing live and the like to be easy for you. Not a lot of bands seem to have especially relevant goals, for example, don’t be touring if you’re not drawing over 50 people at home. Figure this shit out and the move on! Trust me, it will be easier this way.
Finally we get onto perhaps the most important part of the SMART system, time. Time is the key in all of these things. If you’re not executing in a timely manner or in a way that will make sense for your band as a whole then you are shooting yourself in the foot. The thing is people don’t always have the time or energy to devote into their music that you might. Beyond that you can’t try to do certain things in too short a time scale without looking like an asshole. For example – odds are you are never going to be able to book good shows on a two week time scale, nor are you quickly going to get other exciting opportunities. Be ready for these things to take time and realize that at the end of the day sometimes it’s more rewarding to have to wait your turn.
Long story short – I hope this makes some sort of sense and is something you are easily able to incorporate into your band structure. In many ways marketing acronyms like these are great because they are just consolidations of things I have written dozens of articles about just far more clear and a little more to the point than how I might have explained it. Beyond that – when your band has to deal with the corporate world having acronyms like these is going to be extremely useful in making you look smart and reminding everyone in the room that you too are a professional with a lot to bring to the table. Sometimes it’s just appearing smart and on top of it that is key.
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