The start of just about every marketing plan in history starts with what’s known as a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). It just so happens to be my first go-to step as well when I’m taking a look at a new band.
Although I don’t always do it formally, a SWOT analysis is the best way to get a handle on a band’s current position in a market and what the next steps should be. Having one in hand will help you determine what the steps of your marketing plan should be and how best to approach the next 2-3 months of marketing for your band.
SWOT analyses are divided into 2 categories; internal and external. The strengths and weaknesses of a band are the things the band can control and the opportunities and threats are things that are outside of their control. It’s important to recognize this fact when trying to decide which steps to take moving forward.
I like to use the SWOT analysis to take a hard look at a band’s current position. The analysis doesn’t have to be long, but I want to know the actual strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats the band has. Whereas traditional SWOT analyses use this portion of a report to assemble vague ideas of the future such as “There is a growing market for live performances,” I prefer to tackle each section with 4-5 ideas about the band’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and how they relate to one another on real level.
Let’s take a look at what normally goes into a band SWOT analysis and how you can use one to develop a marketing plan immediately following. This particular SWOT analysis is done regarding a band’s new album release. It would look different if the band was making one for say, going on tour, or going after radio airplay.
- Twitter following: 5,000
- Email List: 4,200
- Youtube view count of 1,000 views each video release for the past 6 months
- Local press has positively covered the band in the past
- 2 single worthy tracks from the new album “XYZ”
- 4 digital assets ready for release in conjunction with the new album (2 singles, music video, live performance video)
- Band has no tour sponsors
- Not enough money to pay for national publicity campaign
- Live performances haven’t been established in a touring “route,” making album support touring difficult.
- Downloads numbers are anticipated to decline for album #3
- No new merchandise for the past 6 months
- 2 local festivals within the next year pertaining to the artist’s genre
- Local business sponsorship for regional touring around the band’s hometown
- 3 universities within 50 miles of band’s hometown are looking for bands to play in the fall
- Crowd funded album printing could yield more money for publicity and promotion
Unless a local venue is shutting down, or the band has gotten itself in debt to creditors with no hope of repayment, I’d say it’s OK to leave the “threats” section empty. SWOT analyses are general marketing blueprints and don’t always give the full picture no matter which way you spin things. Threats aren’t going to be considered for this band.
Once I’ve taken a look at all of the SWOTs, it’s time to figure out how to rectify them or tackle them. In the case of the band above, let’s see how I talked to them about what their next steps should be one piece at a time.
This is NOT a formal marketing plan, but what it does do is give us an idea of how best to reinforce the band’s strengths, fix the weaknesses, and seize the opportunities presented within the next few months. These are general thoughts of each topic that I scribbled down that I followed up by putting into a more formal marketing plan for the next 6 months that the band can follow.
- Twitter following: 3,000: Continue to tweet daily, both to followers and to other musicians/potential fans. Tweeting regularly is a good way to keep up a web presence and helps introduce your name to people each day.
- Email List: 4,200: Develop a bi-monthly newsletter that includes new music, news, and tour announcements. Email lists can’t be left by the way-side, otherwise they’ll shrivel up and die.
- Youtube view count of 1,000 views each video release for the past 6 months: Continue to release consistent content each month. One video every 2 weeks is a good goal over the next year. These can be covers, goofing off in the studio, behind the scenes, music videos, acoustic songs, live versions, etc.
- Local press has positively covered the band in the past: Email the local press agents every 2 months or so, regardless of whether the band has news happening. Invite them to shows and befriend them. Keeping relationships with people in the press helps when it comes time to release music.
- 2 single worthy tracks from the new album “XYZ”: Not a whole lot I can say for this one, but we’ll be working these tracks into the overall marketing plan for the band.
- 4 digital assets ready for release in conjunction with the new album (2 singles, music video, live performance video): As I just mentioned in the last point, having an asset kit together will make marketing an album a lot easier.
- Band has no tour sponsors: Approach 10 local businesses within the next 6 months before the band’s next tour to ask about magnetic sign placement on the band’s van, product placement at a venue, or music video inclusion of a local business’ products. Aim to achieve $1,000 in sponsorship funds.
- Not enough money to pay for national publicity campaign: Raise money using Kickstarter (or similar service) to try and raise money for printing the album. Use any “profit” from this fundraising campaign to hire a publicist or PR intern from a local college to try and drum up press.
- Live performances haven’t been established in a touring “route,” making album support touring difficult. Establish a consistent 8-week long touring route that allows the band to hit many of the same cities every few months. This new touring circuit will aid in the promotion of the band’s forthcoming singles and albums.
- Downloads numbers are anticipated to decline for album #3 Find ways to advertise the band’s music in new places. Approach local businesses and ask about placing flyers in their windows as well as posting around town to raise awareness of the band’s name. When playing shows, encourage the band to drive traffic towards the merchandise table with free stickers and inexpensive giveaways to encourage further album sales.
- No new merchandise for the past 6 months: Look at past sales and determine the most profitable products. T-shirts and wristbands have high ROI’s (return on investments). Print $200-$300 worth of new merchandise before the fall tour. Potentially use sponsorship money for printing this merchandise.
- 2 local festivals happening within the next year pertaining to the artist’s genre: Apply to these festivals both formally and informally by emailing the booker of the show and establishing future contact with them. Work local connections to influence the booker to give the band a shot, if only on a smaller stage. If it’s too late to apply to this year’s festivals, determine ways to befriend the booking agent and try again next yar.
- Local business sponsorship for regional touring around the band’s hometown: See above.
- 3 Universities within 50 miles of band’s hometown: Approach the student union or entertainment organizer for these universities and see if there are any concerts coming up that the band can play at. College shows generally pay well, so putting one or two of them into a touring route means that the band will be able to eat more than Ramen for dinner those nights.
- Crowd funded album printing could yield more money for publicity and promotion: See above.
Alright, so we’ve got a base line idea of what we’re working with. We know where the band is doing well online and we know where they’re weak. Now that we have these points at least written down, we can develop a proper marketing plan for them so that they have actionable things each day to help them measure their progress as a band. At the end of 6 months, we’ll review the SWOT and see not only where we’re still strong (hopefully), but what areas we’ve improved upon and which areas still need work. And hopefully the band will be to a “new level” where we can then find new things to improve.
Thanks for reading! -Sunshine