Thursday, October 15, 2009

Marketing Addendum

A lengthy thought was deleted from my last post, Social Media and Marketing and Kansas City and Jazz, to reduce its length from Monstrously Too Long to just Way Too Long. As a follow-up (hey, it was already written anyway), below is the additional rumination.


When I was organizing jazz festivals 20 years ago, we marketed the fest as a big event. We wanted you to think this was the greatest thing happening in Kansas City. If you missed this, you’d miss where everyone else would be over the weekend. You’d miss what everyone would be talking about on Monday morning. We plastered midtown with posters. Our volunteers returned to Westport every week to replace the posters stolen from windows. We appeared on every local show that would have us, from the TV’s noon news to area NPR affiliates to talk radio. We recruited the biggest rock radio station in town as our sponsor (a light jazz station in KC at the time was angry that we didn’t ask them, but they didn’t have the listeners and the big guy demanded logo and on-site exclusivity).

The event happened to feature jazz. But what we we sold was an event.

I haven’t given much thought to how I would market a jazz festival today. But, unquestionably, it would include hitting every medium available, from articles in The Kansas City Star to TV and radio to the internet.

And just what role would social media play? Sure there would be a web site, tweets and a Facebook page. But how do those feed excitement in marketing an event? Do tweets become increasingly enthusiastic as the event nears? Does the web site offer audio samples of the performers? Does the Facebook page repurpose what the other resources push?

Then let’s take this a step further. Let’s try to apply all this to jazz club promotion. I’ve tossed around in my head how a jazz club could utilize some of the marketing strategies that we used to sell a jazz festival. Clearly, just as a weekly magazine can’t make every issue a special (a topic of a recent New York Times article), a club operating nightly can’t make every night a big event.

But could the internet and social media be better utilized to inexpensively build a club as a destination? I suspect it could, and I’m grappling with how. I’m also contemplating how much responsibility belongs to the club (which stands to gain from sales) and how much lies with the performer (who stands to gain from being known as a draw). A proper mix is there somewhere, but I’ve yet to sort just what it is.

For instance, Jardine’s maintains a very nice web site and has been posting updates to Twitter which then populate their Facebook page. On paper, they’re doing everything right. Yet on a Tuesday night a couple weeks back, I was one of maybe 30 patrons to enjoy an exceptional group. What more could have been economically accomplished online -- by club and/or performer -- to build excitement among others for the night?


If you have thoughts on how social media could be better utilized for jazz promotion, locally or nationally, I’d love to hear them. I’m convinced there’s marketing solutions waiting to be pulled together. And I mean solutions which require an outstanding product to be promoted but don’t need the luck a quirk going viral to succeed. I’m at kcjazzlark(at)gmail(dot)com (with the punctuation spelled out here to try to foil the spambots).


And speaking of Jardine’s Twitter feeds and Facebook page, where did the updates go? As I write this, nothing new has been posted for over a week. Frankly, I liked finding the daily update in my Twitter feed and on my Facebook wall, and it certainly gave the club an edge when I decided to get for the night. But perhaps the social media were not delivering results for the club as marketing in 2009 says they should?

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Comments are welcome. If you prefer, you can reach me directly at kcjazzlark(at)gmail(dot)com.