You’re not the hero to your audience. It may feel that way at times. It’s quite possible you may want it that way!
But you’re not the hero, you’re the guide.
They’re Luke Skywalker.
For the younger crowd, they’re Harry Potter.
When you envision success, if you envision yourself as the hero you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority.
But you’re wrong.
You’re DEFINITELY amongst the majority of artists who see themselves as heroes.
You’re also in the majority of businesses out there who view their products as the hero.
The smartest marketing companies like Apple, Harley Davidson, and Coca-Cola understand their products are not the hero, they are the guide.
Yes, the awesome apple computer I use in my studio rig doesn’t create the killer song demos for my songwriter clients or the heartfelt content for my marketing clients; I do.
I’m the hero within the context of my relationship with Apple.
They were the guide, their product helped me achieve success for myself.
Coca-Cola makes you feel like you’re going to have a great time with your friends and their product is there to facilitate it.
Coca-Cola helps you create lasting memories.
“But Johnny, what the hell does this mean to me as an artist?”
Here’s a great story and it’s quick.
I saw a clip somewhere of Blake Shelton talking about “Austin”. This was Blake’s first single and he relived his first tour describing the reaction he would get in the audience when the band would kick into that song back in 2001.
People screamed and hollered because they loved this #1 song and the new artist!
Now, 15 years later, Shelton says the reaction is different. When he looks out into the audience during “Austin” there are people holding on to each other, groups hugging one another, hitting each other in the shoulder and laughing, or crying, but They’re all reminiscing.
Do you see?
They were making the memories in 2001 and now they’re remembering those very memories.
Shelton’s first single was a guide in their lives. They have attached that song to a memory. That song now evokes powerful emotion, one way or the other.
It’s their celebration and “Austin” is the soundtrack to that specific celebration.
I was discussing this very story with my girlfriend who told me her first kiss happened to “Austin”. That song became their song.
Who forgets their first kiss?
Blake Shelton is just in the honorable position to be a part of this important recollection for many people.
He’s the guide.
How many of you had your first kiss, first sex, first drunk, first significant something largely because the setting was perfect which included the music.
I think if y’all can internalize this concept, it will change your marketing dramatically.
When you overhaul your approach to marketing, it will be foreign and clumsy at first, but you’ll be more effective and reach more people.
When you think you’re the hero, you get butt-hurt when you don’t receive the respect you think a hero should deserve because, after all, you’re a hero.
Why don’t they see it like you see it, right?
When you feel like the hero, your language and tone come from a different place. You feel as if you are owed respect. You speak to people with a certain air of authority, entitlement, and a certain condescension.
Maybe you don’t mean to, but y’all do because that kind of perspective comes with the hero mentality.
For instance, “Check out my new single” or “This kid is spitting mad rhymes in the mic!” or “Check us out on iTunes” then download my song and spread the word.
Coming from someone who is perceived to be a hero or at the very least has some real respect, these commands might work.
In your scenario, the reaction is the complete opposite from what you are wanting to get though, isn’t it?
You’re trying to earn the respect.
I mean, how’s that working out for you?
Does anyone care?
However, if you truly understand that you’re the guide and being the guide is a privilege, your approach, tone, and language changes.
Your CTA (Call To Action) posts look more like, “Wow! #Grateful 4 the love. Here’s a free download. #respect.”
Relationships aren’t transactions, their relationships. There’s a difference.
The more we stop thinking about ourselves and start thinking about our fan’s (customer’s) journeys, the more we will reach them.
They want to belong…to something.
Yes, they want music but they have all the music they need, just ask them, they’ll tell you.
You’re not trying to sell something they need like clothes, shelter, water, oxygen, etc.
You’re going to need to create a relationship and you do that online by providing real value.
You’re a business but you’re thinking like a product-centric business when you should be thinking like a customer-centric business.
Product-centric business is dangerous and short-lived.
Customer-centric business can go on forever.
FYI, the muse for this article was the “Best Of 2016” episode on the Building a Story Brand with Donald Miller podcast. Quick excerpts from the best episodes and they’re quite illuminating.
A good example of a product-centric business is the Piano Key tie. The manufacturer’s made a killing on a product but it ended and it was over.
A good example of a customer-centric business is Chanel.
Chanel started by inventing the mini skirt back in the 60’s (thank you Chanel!) but this iconic brand isn’t defined in any way solely on the mini skirt, was it?
Apple used to be called Apple Computer. They dropped “Computer” from their moniker because they didn’t want to be defined by the Macintosh alone. They said they didn’t want their company to be defined by the products they sold, rather they wanted their company to be defined by the people they served.
That’s the difference between being a product-centric business and customer-centric business.
Why didn’t Blackberry OWN the smartphone business?
Why didn’t Blockbuster become Netflix before Netflix?
Answer: Because they were cemented to a certain way of THINKING and therefore, they couldn’t adapt.
You have to adapt to survive.
As an artist, when you’re thinking about your fans as opposed to yourself, your content will change and become valuable to them.
I know y’all hear me go on about business and monetization etc. I even joke sometimes about the monetization process with my cohorts like a tough guy.
But the truth is I make no mistake, it’s all about adding value to their lives.
I’m always wondering how I can add value to my client’s lives with advanced strategies, custom content, and attention that they won’t get anywhere else.
When you begin to think this way about your online community, you’ll witness a big change.
You have to think about the transactional process differently.
Don’t think of your fans like a human ATM machine, “I have to shake them down for $20.”
Think about them like a close relationship, “How can I add the most value for that $20.”
Not for nothing, but I think many of you pure artists allow this method of transactional thinking to become a deterrent to your success!
You want to make a living as an artist, but you fear being perceived as a salesman, therefore you don’t sell and therefore you don’t make a living as an artist.
Sounds simple, but I KNOW that I just rang a lot of bells.
Think of your bartender or your weed dealer (legal or illegal makes no difference).
You expect a certain level of service and quality. In the beginning of the relationship many of you are understandably skeptical about the outcome. But when you experience a happy result a relationship is formed and the transaction is a happy one.
You are HAPPY to pay your hard-earned money to receive the goods and services.
They are HAPPY to accommodate you in exchange for your precious money.
Then, Both of you are HAPPY to repeat the process because there is a relationship, trust, understanding, and therefore, CONSTANT COMMERCE.
See, in this framework the idea of commerce doesn’t feel so bad, does it?
How can you add value (aside from your music) to a potential fan’s life on social media to create a relationship?
Your attitude on life?
Your snarky perspective?
Your artistic interpretation of their favorite song?
Thought provoking content?
All these items end up as your brand DNA.
If I like your brand, I’ll listen to your music with an open heart.
When you begin putting their needs first, your tone, content, language, and approach completely transform.
You stop trying to be the hero and begin to guide them.
You start to help them improve their lives, even if it’s just for a second with a laugh, 3 minutes with a song, or 90 minutes with a compelling show.
You exist to help them.
You exist to transform them into better heroes.
How can you achieve a real relationship with your future fans online?
Ahh, now you’re asking better questions!
May the force be with you.
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