Week 5 has come around at just the right time! Newsletter time! Click here to check out this month’s issue and please sign up!
To begin I have to make a confession. Bless me Father for I have sinned – the SIN of SINS in marketing and direct mailing: I purged my email list. Yes… I did. I threw it in the trash, right-clicked on my mouse and it was gone. (OK you PR people, you can get up off the floor now…) Let me tell you why I did this and then you may judge me.
My wife and I moved to Connecticut after living in NYC for many years. While in the city, I had been “sort of playing out” as a solo singer-songwriter, playing a lot of trombone in small orchestras, I was active in a composer’s collective that wrote mostly for Indonesian Gamelan, I was writing for theater and I played bass as a sideman in a couple of rock bands. I was not Darryl Gregory the guy that plays “Hard-edged Country, with a soft heart” and I was not promoting myself as myself.
The names I collected for my list were occasional and varied. Some people liked my serious compositions and some liked my acoustic guitar playing and then some liked to come to the bars to see the band I was playing with. It was a mixed up list and when I trashed it I did so thinking that it couldn’t do anything for me. I wanted to start anew. I wanted a list with names of people that had come to see Darryl Gregory and then wanted to be connected to that entity.
A year ago I started on my songwriting and performing path with renewed energy and a more focused plan. The purging of my email list was just a reaction to my symptom of wanting to start all over.
But I didn’t throw everybody off the island. I kept close friends, a few true fans and some family on the list, but I that only added up to about 30 people. In the last 9-months I’ve grown the list to around 125. I know it will grow as I perform more and get better at collecting names, but I feel that I know what to do with those names once I get them because they signed up to be a part of the Darryl Gregory experience – I’m thinking like a business.
So now that I know who is on my list I can talk to them much more directly than before. The main way I communicate with this list is via my newsletter. I’ve put a lot of time into crafting my newsletter and I still feel like it’s a work in progress and I learn something each time I put it out. It goes out once a month whether I feel I have something to say or not, but usually I do (have something to say that is…).
The key to communication with fans, as I’ve learned from Ariel Hyatt and others, is to be a giver, not a getter. You should be a consistent bringer of news and tidbits about yourself and your services. You should also interact with the reader and ask them to do things for you and with you. This last bit is what I’m still working on and it was reinforced by reading Chapter 5 of MSi9W. After reading and re-reading Chapter 5, I decided to ask my readers help me out with my next CD project. I’ve invited them to following my blog postings about the CD process, listen and comment on song demos and help me decide which songs will go on the CD.
I always have my gig schedule and I start off with an introduction that I try to write as if I had that person sitting right in front of me. I always include a blurb about what I’m listening to on my iPod and I recycle my blog posts in my newsletter which is a great way to get readers to go back to my website. One huge piece of advice that I have for newsletter writing is to proofread and rewrite – yes I’m a teacher. I can’t believe all the mistakes I catch when I proof my writing.
One last thing about getting the emails out to your list: management software. I’ve tried several “list management” services to get the letter out and I’m still up in the air about them. Right now I’m using Constant Contact just because it is very easy to use and their templates were simple and direct. CC also has a good name collection system that allows me to give away my mp3’s via email. It’s drawback is the expense. There are cheaper management systems out there like ReverbNation, but they’re not as flexible nor do they have as many analytical tools as Constant Contact or Vertical Response or MailChimp. So you get what you pay for or don’t pay for. Here’s a good site to help you compare services www.email-marketing-options.com
Let me know what you think of this month’s newsletter and I’m off to Chapter 6.