When you think of marketing, does your mind go straight to sales? That’s a common connection to make, but marketing goes far beyond selling. Marketing is about expanding your brand recognition and understanding your customers’ deepest needs, so customer traffic flows naturally to your store and website.


Octave Media helps music retailers and brands develop robust, comprehensive marketing plans. If your company needs a stronger marketing strategy, here are 5 steps to get you started.


Step 1: Determine Your Marketing Goals

Begin by deciding on some desired outcomes for your marketing efforts. The more you focus on specific goals, the better your results will be.


Do you need to boost website sales? Is your foot traffic in a slump? Would it help to raise your average sale per customer? Does a newly-opened location need more marketing support? Work with your team to determine which 1 or 2 goals would most benefit your company – but remember, marketing is about keeping the customer in mind.


While your goal might be “increase store foot traffic,” your method of accomplishing that should be customer-focused, like “provide more loyalty rewards for visiting our store.” Marketing goals should be a balance between your needs and your customers’ needs.


One last note about marketing goals: To reach them, you’ll need to make an investment. A general rule of thumb from Entrepreneur is to create a minimum and maximum promotional budget based on 10% to 12% of your projected annual gross sales multiplied by your average transaction markup.


Step 2: Define Your Target Market

It’s become a cliche to “know your customer,” but it’s still as true as it ever was. Your marketing plan – in fact, your entire company’s success – hinges on a clear definition of your target market.


Too often, music stores and brands define their target market too broadly as “musicians” or “music lovers.” Research shows that only a tiny fraction of people say they have zero interest in music, and every culture in every corner of the world includes music as part of its identity. The world has more than 7 billion people and you can’t possibly reach them all!


Find a way to more narrowly define your target market, and your marketing efforts will be more effective. Who’s your tried-and-true customer, and who’s the missing customer you’d like to reach? How do you stand out in the market? Here’s an example to get you thinking.


Richard Ash, the CEO of Sam Ash Music, the largest chain of family-owned stores in the U.S., is quite open about who their target market is: aging Baby Boomers who pay attention to brand names, many of whom have a deep appreciation for vintage guitars.


In fact, you can learn more about the target markets of 5 of the Best Music Retail Brands in a recent blog post from Octave Media.


Step 3: Develop Your Customer Personas

Personas aren’t real people, but they’re some of the most important people in your organization. They’re composites of actual customers – with names and descriptions – that personify the type of person you’re trying to reach.


Your company might have 1 to 3 primary customer personas. A basic persona has four factors: goals, challenges, affinity, and demographics. Let’s roll through a quick example.


Robert is one of your music retail company’s marketing personas.

Goals: Robert has always wanted to own a high-end electric guitar, and now that his kids are adults, he might have the money for it. He wants to join a band with other guys his age – just for fun, not gigs. His day job isn’t music-related, so music is an outlet for him in his free time.

Challenges: Robert has a mortgage and debt. He’d like to buy something at your music store, but his family would rather take a vacation. Robert feels pressed for time and money. He has a cell phone and reads a few music blogs, but isn’t a big fan of social media.

Affinity: Robert likes your music store because it’s laid back and he can talk to other guys about music there. He sometimes stops by to look at instruments but doesn’t stay long.

Demographics: Robert is 47 years old, married, has a management job at a production facility, is a homeowner, and has 2 children who are young adults.


Using personas like the one above, your company can maximize its marketing efforts. When deciding how to spend marketing dollars or develop marketing messages, make good choices by thinking, “Would this appeal to the Robert persona?”


4- Research Your Competition

Understanding your competition is a key part of any marketing plan – but that doesn’t mean you have to view them as your enemies. Competitive research can lead to partnerships and alliances that benefit both you and your competitors.


For example, many music retailers attend events hosted by NAMM – the National Association of Music Merchants – and sit right alongside their competitors, sharing insider information. Why? Because music merchants as a group are also competing against other outside forces – things like streaming TV, free downloads, tech thieves, and an ever-evolving global marketplace.


One way of researching your competition is to practice social listening, or observing the words and phrases people are using on your competitors’ social channels and on review sites. Use social listening to develop keywords and content that appeals to your target market, based on the language they tend to use.


Do everything you can to research local competitors, industry leaders, and world-wide innovators. Bring all of this knowledge back to your home base, and it will inform your marketing choices every day.


On a related note, have you heard about Nacho Analytics, the Google Analytics-style tool that allows a peek inside competitors’ web stats? Check out Octave Media’s post about how Nacho Analytics can help a music marketing plan.


5- Expand Your Web and Social Presence

Finally, make sure your marketing plan covers your website user experience and social media reputation. Your web and social strategy can’t be an afterthought; In today’s competitive music market, it must be front-and-center.


Tackle web and social marketing issues like:

Marketing Help From the Music Marketing Experts

We hope this 5-step guide to creating a marketing plan is music to your ears. For more, stop by our blog, which is tailored to music companies in need of extra marketing help.


Octave Media specializes in marketing for music brands. Our free 5-Point Website Marketing Inspection guides music businesses toward sources of audience and revenue. Connect with Octave Media now to develop a solid marketing plan.