I was reading a story yesterday and in it the author dropped in the statistic that most businesses spend between 25% and 35% of their gross on advertising. I thought it was interesting to put out a number because it provides a starting point for a discussion on the subject. If you are an indie artist how much do you spend on promoting yourself and your music/films/books?
It has been my experience that most people in the independent entertainment business don’t think much about promoting their products on a cost basis. Or else they think that the much touted DIY methods of free promotion from adoring fans will suffice. Unfortunately the majority don’t find success through those methods alone. If that was all it took then the major labels and studios wouldn’t have to spend any money on advertising and other forms of promotion. But they do, they spend millions, even to promote top level stars who you would think could sell their products on the strength of their name alone.
Another important area to consider is social media. There are a lot of people out there who claim that they can build your social network by adding thousands of fans overnight or get your video a multitude of views. For the most part they can deliver the numbers but mostly such followers or views leave something to be desired which you don’t realize until you have already spent your money. There is a big difference between real money and monopoly money and this is the same kind of deal with those services. If all you care about is numbers no matter where they come from or if any of them actually watch your video then fine but if you care about real views or follows from real people who may become lasting fans then I don’t recommend these services.
I can deliver real views on a video from real people. Recently I have been experimenting with more legitimate ways to build social networks and I can do that too. For example, facebook ads and twitter ads seem to average a dollar or more per new friend or subscriber using their own advertising platforms (if you can even get access to the twitter platform). I can get equal exposure for much less. I save you all the leg work and use proven methods.
So how much should you spend on promoting yourself? Should you have an ongoing campaign or a big, one time blowout event for the release of a new video? That is up to you but actually a combination of the two is most effective. Decide what you can afford to spend monthly (even if it is only a few hundred dollars) to build your fan base via social networks and or video views and dedicate that amount to an ongoing campaign. Then, when a major event draws near think about spending more on that event.
What difference does it make? Here is an example, right now I’m running a digital promotion campaign for a music video. After 2 weeks the video is at 2.3 million views on youtube. Another video by a very talented band that I have known for a long time and who is going the total DIY route is celebrating 1,000 views in a week. I trust you see the difference.