Introduction Stage Trainings & Strategies
When building out your Introduction stage, the goal is to develop your process and strategy for exposing more people to your art and content to a point where you are consistently gaining new audience members. These are some of the strategies, campaigns, and templates we use to develop the Introduction stage for artists:
Fan Finder Method
One of the most successful strategies for Introduction we've developed is called the Fan Finder Method. This method uses video Ad campaigns designed to introduce your music to brand new listeners at a massive scale while, at the same time, helping you identify ideal target audiences and the brand voice that works best for them.
"Fan Finder" campaigns start with a step-by-step audience research process that helps you create target audiences in Facebook Ads based on your available data. In most cases, the next step is to create one of the styles of videos that work best for social advertising (detailed in the Fan Finder Method training).
With this video prepared, the next step is to brainstorm attention-grabbing headlines and then construct a Facebook Ad campaign with the right settings. Over the first 3-5 days of monitoring the Campaign's performance, audiences and headlines that underperform can be turned off to maximize budget towards high-performing combinations.
The long term benefits of running a Fan Finder campaign are numerous. Most importantly, running this campaign will familiarize an artist and their team with the Facebook Ads platform, its many powerful capabilities, and the process of testing and optimizing Ad campaigns for various purposes.
In the short term, artists can run many Fan Finder campaigns to improve their understanding of how different videos, audiences, and approaches to Ad text (aka "copy") affect performance. Over time, however, artists who have run many of these campaigns can begin to deviate from the template we provide and make changes to better fit their specific situation.
Additionally, running this Campaign can often be like a shot of adrenaline for artists who have had trouble growing an audience up until this point. This method can create momentum for artists quickly - even those who are currently at square one.
Spotify Field Guide
The Spotify Field Guide is a training in the INDIEPRO member area that deals exclusively with Spotify and its recommendation engine. In comparison to other streaming platforms which can be opaque and difficult to strategize towards, Spotify has a (relatively) open and transparent recommendation engine.
Using Introduction stage Ad campaigns (like the Fan Finder Method) as a first step before sending engaged audience members to Spotify has compounding benefits that impact the Introduction stage. Essentially, Spotify wants to recommend music that users will love and avoid recommending music that users might not like.
So, the very best way to grow an audience on streaming platforms is to send highly-qualified audience members to Spotify. When Spotify's recommendation engine can easily identify users who love a song, they can more easily recommend that song to other users. Spotify is a dominant streaming platform and has the capability to multiply growth by exposing an artist to more users - which is why it is useful to focus on directing an audience to Spotify in and immediately after the Introduction stage.
Furthermore, appreciation for an artist is predicated on a love of their content. Fans will need a convenient method for consuming music - in the 2020s, Spotify is both highly convenient for users and, in comparison to its competitors, the easiest to strategize.
Unfortunately, Spotify is a "data black hole". Almost every activity, event, campaign, and initiative in and around The Buddy System is data-complete. Spotify is the biggest outlier because the platform does not allow artists to interact directly with users or learn very much about their engagement with an artists profile (and, profile customization is nearly non-existent).
For this reason, we see artists have the most success when focusing primarily on audience growth through advertising on social media platforms. Ads sending fans to Spotify should not represent a majority of an artist's Ad budget when the focus is to move listeners through the Introduction stage.
Risky Business (not recommended)
In the Introduction stage, all of the audience is "cold", meaning they have not interacted with the artist before. They are a total stranger, completely unaware that the artist exists. The goal in the Introduction stage is to make a perfect "first impression" on the audience to turn them "warm" - meaning they have had a positive interaction with you.
The "warmer" a given audience member is, the more positive "touches" or "interactions" they've had with your brand. Warmer audience members are also more likely to convert - make a purchase, sign up for something, etc. - than cold audiences.
Because the audience in Introduction is cold, it is generally not recommended that Introduction stage strategies involve getting the audience to do anything besides consume content. Clicking buttons to other websites, signing up, or purchasing things is not typically an Introduction stage strategy.
Ideally, audience members stay on the platform they encounter you on throughout the early stages of The Buddy System so that they don't feel uncomfortable or have a negative experience. The more you ask of someone, the more you pull them out of familiar territory, the greater the risk of putting them off.
For these reasons, the following campaign strategies are very risky to deploy in the Introduction stage. These strategies are unlikely to work for the average artist as a "first impression". However, we have seen artists target cold audiences using these campaigns while generating positive results and, in some cases, a profit.
Please take caution when exploring the use of one of these campaign types in the Introduction stage:
Opt In Campaigns
When you sign up for an email list, you are "opting in" to receive marketing communication from the brand or person that runs that email list. Often times, "Opt-Ins" are incentiviized with an offer of something valuable as a free gift for signing up.
This kind of strategy is normally deployed at the Permission Stage of the Buddy System after Introduction and Education. However, we have seen it work combined as an Introduction Strategy for the kind of artists I described before. For more information on "Opt-In Campaigns", you can check out our Grow Your Permission List training included in the INDIEPRO member area.
Free + S&H Campaigns
Often times, businesses are happy to lose money to acquire a customer knowing that the customer will be worth far more in repeat purchases than they are in a short time frame. An extreme example of this counter-intuitive business strategy at play is the Free + S&H Funnel, which is a common campaign type for digital marketers selling products.
A Free + S&H Funnel begins with an Ad, email, or message that offers recipients a free physical product. All that is asked in return is that the recipient pays the cost of shipping and handling. Typically, this product is a low-cost item that is signficant enough to entice people while not breaking the bank.
Upon checking out and paying for shipping and handling, users are then presented with one or more offers for an upgrade to their order, which may include single or bundled items which are related to the original offer.
While many just decline these upgrades and finish checking out for the free product, the campaign can be configured so that only a small percentage of users need to upgrade in order for the campaign to be profitable or break even.
This kind of strategy is normally deployed at the Affirmation Stage of the Buddy System. However, we have seen (and, over the last year, exhaustively tested) the use of this campaign when targeting cold audiences.
Targeting cold audiences with this campaign type is not recommended for beginners. Even experienced Indies, if not careful, can easily suffer losses when running this campaign if it should tip into the negative.
To learn more about the FSH strategy you can check out our FREE + S&H Funnel training.
Direct To Spotify Campaigns
This campaign delivers a clip of one of your videos to a cold audience through IG & FB stories and/or the news feed, pushing them to the song on Spotify. It’s a way to introduce someone to your music and push them to your Spotify profile at the same time.
This may sound like a great idea in theory, but we don’t recommend it as the primary Introduction strategy because it typically doesn’t work well as an effective conversation starter. This campaign is best suited as a retargeting strategy to people who have engaged with your content in the past.
While some artists have found the right Ad creative and campaign strategy to drive success with this method, a broad majority of artists are unable to make this campaign profitable and often pay a heavy premium on followers, listeners, and streams when compared to a "post-Introduction" version of the same campaign (targeting only warm audiences).
- The Introduction Stage is the foundation of your music business. Using the model of the development of human relationships, it is where you say “Hi, I’m Shae nice to meet you.” You shake hands, smile, and prepare to dive into further conversation. It’s where your new listeners are deciding if they like you and if they want to keep interacting. The Introduction Stage is meant to help you find who is interested in your music and who wants to keep interacting. It sets you up for later stages of the relationship.
- To best prepare yourself for this stage it is important to examine elements of your own style so that you can theorize and test the types of audiences who have the highest chance of engaging with you. Ground level market research before launching this stage is crucial to both your short term and long term success.
- The best strategy to deploy for effective Introduction is a strategy we developed here at Indepreneur called the Fan Finder Method. This tried and true video views campaign is designed to introduce your content to people who will become long-term fans.
- "Cold" audiences consist of people who aren't familiar with you or your brand; "warm" audiences consist of people who are familiar or have engaged with you in the past. The Introduction stage converts "cold" audiences into "warm" audiences.
- Trying to get "cold" audiences to click, sign up, buy, or even leave the platform they saw you on is dubious at best and must be approached with caution and forethought. Warming them up on the platform they encounter you on before attempting to take them off of it is more likely to succeed over the long term.
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