For the past few weeks we’ve been carefully studying the various Experiences that have made their way onto our new Marketplace platform in hopes of educating you on what it takes to create a successful “offers” campaign. We’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely with many of the great musicians who are currently using our Marketplace and have helped many of them develop, refine and successfully sell their offers. We learned a TON in the process and want to share that knowledge with you.
In our earlier blog posts, we covered the different ways you can promote your Experiences to your fans via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Remember, nothing is more effective than you, the artists encouraging your fans to check out new opportunities to engage with you. It has proven to be the most useful way to reach your fans that we have seen thus far.
However, for this blog post we’ll start at the beginning and cover some of the best practices for developing and setting up an Experience once you have made the decision to participate in this Brave New World of fan engagement. Let’s get started!
Where to Start
The first step in creating your Experiences, is deciding on what your goals are. Are you trying to maximize revenue or are you more focused on creating cool new ways to engage with your biggest fans? Deciding on your ultimate goal will help inform the choices you make for each of the offer variables below.
- What to Offer
- Pricing Your Offer
- Expiration Date
- Video / Photo
What to Offer
Offerings can be broken down into 3 main types: Personalized merchandise, fan participation, and personal experiences.
- Personalized Merchandise/Momentos: These are often manufactured goods that you can easily add exclusive value to. Examples include signed vinyl, handwritten lyric sheets, a signed print from a show, signed drumheads, etc. What’s great about items like these are they already have real-world value and adding an exclusive twist to them instantly makes them even more valuable to your fans. Be sure not to confuse this with your standard merch. You should only choose items that are limited in quantity and that you have personalized yourself. These types of offers can also include hand-made items that you have put your own personal touch on. We’ve seen artists successfully sell hand painted pictures/drawings to fans. Other artists have successfully sold mix-tapes of their favorite songs or songs that have inspired them over the years. Consider doing an acoustic cover of a fan’s choice. Maybe a full EP. Get creative. Think of your favorite artists. What cool stuff could they offer that would intrigue you?
- Fan Participation: These are super exclusive experience-based offers that let your fans be a part of your creative process. Shooting a new video? Let a fan be an extra. Need some handclaps for a track your working on? Give your biggest fans a crack at it. If you’re feeling brave, you might even let a fan design your next album cover. One artist created totally unique songs using sounds, samples and concepts sent to them by the purchasing fan. Pretty amazing. If a fan does participate in a project of yours, consider including their name in the credits or thank you notes as a further token of your appreciation.
- Personal Experiences: These are also experience-based offers that allows your fans connect with you on a more personal and intimate level. These types of offers can include a one-on-one skype session, a meet and greet before a show or a visit to the recording studio to sit in on the recording of your next album. We’ve seen a number of talented artists offer their fans guitar or piano lessons. We even had one artist completely sell through all of her theremin lessons. There are handful of other artists who have successfully sold private concerts that are to be held in a fan’s living room. Fans are always looking for unique and exclusive ways to engage with their favorite artists and creating a once in a lifetime experience is worth a premium price.
In general, pricing will be a learning process for each musician. When first starting out, we recommend limiting the quantity of offers and pricing them to sell. You can always add additional ones later. It’s important to engage your fans right off the bat with an intriguing offer that won’t break the bank. This will help generate buzz among your fanbase. We saw a number of bands completely sell out of their offers within hours of promoting them to their socials who ended up having to add more items due to overwhelming fan demand. That’s the kind of position you want to be in. Remember, the higher the price the more promotion you’ll need to do in order to reach those few “Superfans” who’ll be willing to and have the means to pay a high price.
A few things to keep in mind when pricing your offer.
- First off, consider the costs associated with your offer. Are there costs associated with transportation, shipping, merchandise, the venue, etc? Your time is obviously worth something to you so don’t forget to take that into consideration.
- Secondly, you want to make sure you are offering something of value. If you are selling a manufactured good like a signed CD or poster, you’re going to want to keep the price close to it’s real world cost (depending on how popular you are.) You can always add additional value to a manufactured good by adding your own unique twist to it. Hand-write lyrics on a poster or draw a picture on a drumhead and sign it or for a fan. Perhaps you can create a personal one-of-kind greeting to open your new album. Adding a one of a kind experience to a manufactured good that already has real world value not only gives you a decent starting point price-wise but also affords you some flexibility depending on your audience. However, if you are selling a vinyl test pressing, or a meet and great before a show or something that is super rare and limited in quantity, you will be able to fetch a premium price based on the exclusivity of the item or experience.
- A good rule of thumb: Put yourself in your fan’s shoes. Would you be willing to spend your hard earned cash on your reward? Let your honest answer to that question guide you.
Depending on what your goals are, you can either choose to keep your experiences exclusive and intimate or far-reaching and accessible. If you’re experimenting with offers, it’s a good idea to keep inventory low to see how they initially sell. You can always increase the quantity if things start to sell quickly or even better, sell out. Keep in mind, the quantity you set is closely related to price – the lower the quantity of something the more exclusive it is and therefore the higher you can price it. Offerings with a high quantity do not have that “exclusivity” factor and you are better served to price those a bit lower.
Let’s take a look at two good examples of both cases. We’ll compare Mum (an avant-grade Icelandic band) and The Postelles (an up and coming American indie rock band) to highlight the dynamic relationship between exclusivity and price.
- Mum offered fans a completely custom song created using a fan’s choice of sounds, samples, concepts, etc. Due to the time commitment and effort needed to produce this offer, the band decided to only sell a few. Naturally, the price was expensive for such a unique opportunity but the final product warranted it. Within hours of sharing these unique opportunity with the fans, Mum was able to sell 3 customized songs for $1500 each. Not a bad way to make some extra cash and cultivate a greater relationship with some of their biggest fans.
- The Postelles wanted to create some buzz around their newest release and encourage their fans to actually BUY their album rather than stream it. So they came up with the idea to personally “audiographed” 50 copies of their new album. An “audiograph” (according to them) is a personalized dedication just for the fan in digital format to be played in (STEREO) at the very beginning of the new album. Fans loved the idea of having something personal and unique to them and jumped at the opportunity. The Postelles kept prices incredibly reasonable knowing they could sell a large volume and create some excitement around the album. It worked like a charm. Fans who weren’t able to get their hands on the first wave of audiographed albums begged for the band to create more via The Postelles Facebook page and Twitter. There was clearly a large demand, so The Postelles made a handful more which almost immediately sold out again.
The title is the first thing a fan will see when the come across your offerings on your social channels, via email, and when they’re surfing the BandPage Experiences site so be sure to make it simple yet compelling and memorable. Fans should want to click on your experience to learn more so have some fun with it and keep it personable and honest.
Top selling Experience titles:
- Exclusive Pre-show Listening Party!
- …And It Shook Me (AUDIOGRAPHED VERSION)
- Personalized Outgoing Message from Us!
- Backstage Buddz Bundle
- Catch Our Show From The Side Stage
- Wood Printed Design Hieroglyphics X Oakland
- Intimate “Living Room” Album
Your description is the best place to communicate to your fans what exactly it is you are offering them. It’s imperative that you are as descriptive as possible so that the fan is absolutely clear on what it is they are getting in return for their money. What format is it in, how long will it be, what’s included and how it will be fulfilled? If there are rules and policies, be sure to list those out as well. If you can’t give fans side stage access to shows that you aren’t headlining, be sure to make that clear. Be sure to also include a clear call to action at the beginning or end of the description if there is something you specifically need from the fan.
Examples of good descriptions:
- Issues’s Exclusive Pre-show Listening Party tells you exactly what is included: a Q&A, all the autographs you want, photos, an extremely intimate group setting, and of course, listen to the new material.
- Stars’ Watch a Show From the Stage tells you the logistical details: you get 2 tickets included with the purchase, you get to choose which show you want to be on the stage for, and the purchase does not include travel to/from the show.
- Hieroglyphics’ Wood Printed Design’s description includes the exact canvas size, some background and history, and for this offer the image shows you exactly what you see and is used to support the description.
Shorter durations for your Experiences will have higher success rates and create a sense of urgency for your fans. We recommend setting your expiration date no later than a month out, and promoting it at big milestones (2 weeks left! 1 week left! 2 days left!).
Video & Photo
You should already have a BandPage profile photo uploaded. It’s your main form of branding on the page so choose a good photo that embodies who you are as an artist.
If you choose to make a video, there are a few important things to keep in mind.
- Make it personable. Don’t be afraid to get in front of the camera and tell your fans how excited you are about this opportunity to engage and connect with them. You don’t have to be sales-y, just be yourself and stay true to who you are as an artists.
- It doesn’t have to be perfect. Knock it out in a couple of hours with a few friends or spend days editing it – whatever floats your boat. Being yourself and being genuine goes a lot further than a slick, well-produced video. If you can do both, even better!
- Be descriptive. Here is another opportunity to explain to your fans what exactly it is they are getting.
Some Last Notes…
- Number of Experiences: Start with no more than 3 unique offers. You are going to need to promote these things to your fans and you dont want to be spamming them day after day. Many artists prefer to promote one offer at a time. Others have found success promoting a handful at the same time. Find what works for you. We feel keeping the number of unique offers low challenges you to really develop the ones you do have and that’s important.
- Try to Keep Your Offer Audience Wide: If you have offers set in certain geographic areas, you’ll be limiting your audience to those of your fans who live near that region. Be aware of when this happens because you’ll be able to target those fans really well with Facebook ads. If you’re offering instrument lessons, be aware that you’re limiting the pool of potential buyers to your fans who happen to be currently learning how to play that exact instrument.
- Fill Out Your BandPage Profile: The Marketplace is another opportunity for you to market your content so important that your BandPage profile be up-to-date. A fan may come across your profile looking to check out that signed vinyl test pressing you just put up for sale and notice you are playing in their town in a few weeks. Or your offer might catch the eye of a fan of another band and they may want to check out your songs or videos. You never know who is going to be seeing and listening to your stuff so make sure it’s all filled out and completely updated.
Those are our tips for setting up a great Experience! Definitely leave us feedback if you have questions or thoughts – and check out our other posts regarding promoting your offers if you haven’t already.