Commentary

The Entertaining 'Marketing: Entertainment,' Column, Pt. 2

If you missed Pt.1 of this series (the top ten list that goes to eleven) please take a look, it sets the tone for this second installment – a three-act performance of entertainment marketing wisdom put into practice. 

Entertainment marketing, like entertainment itself, involves the right mindset and mojo, and many of the rules are different from general marketing. The case studies below are insider intuitions I've gleaned from the email marketing sidelines. I've foregone the typically boring, rigid, case-studyish stuff in the interest of entertainment. (And left out some actual stats in the interest of privacy.) OK, here we go. Please silence your cell-phones.

ACT #1 – Foolish Inconsistency Is The Hobgoblin Of Mediocre Emails. 

Let's look at SLAMjamz, record label of the legendary Public Enemy. SLAMjamz' e-newsletters don't miss a beat. They send to tens of thousands of fans and enjoy a 25% open rate – more than double the industry standard. This open rate stays shockingly consistent, too, which is rare.

Why's the open rate consistent? ALWAYS a blend of sales, news and content links to rare videos, their missives are consistent with meaty, relevant content that suits ALL their fans – even those not in the mood to buy at the moment. Consistent content equals consistent open rates. Don't deviate from your format.

If SLAMjamz breaks form and sends a mere sales pitch, and leaves out the meaty content, they could see open rates plummet. Small blips of inconsistency over time can cause irreparable damage. 

A newsletter itself is a form of entertainment – it connects fans with what they love. The second you deviate from a reliable pattern, you undermine the way your newsletter qua product is perceived, and given how flooded inboxes are these days, it can be a deal breaker that can't easily be repaired.

ACT #2 – To Segment Or Not To Segment, That Is The Question.

TV network HDnet offers sports, news & documentaries, live concerts and more. If you like music, not sports, you'll get your music email...and be spared the sports email. 

HDnet enjoys a crazy-high 35% open rate on their segmented emails. If they crammed everything into one big email – causing fans to sift through a bunch of stuff they don't care about – the open rates would likely suffer. 

Segmenting your email list gets content to the people who want it. But if you segment too much, you miss out on cross-pollinating your products to a broader audience. Find a middle ground. My Chemical Romance fans might click on Dan Rather's latest coverage of the Occupy movement – if you give them a chance. The thinking is: feature the stuff you know they want, then add a link to the other stuff in a non-obnoxious way. It's a nice test with little risk. 

Most entertainment markets are segmented. Why send fan eblasts to PR contacts and venues – can you come up with an industry blast with modified content? Why send a Minnesota touring schedule to fans in Arizona when you can segment by zip code in one click? Why talk to longtime fans the same way (and with the same frequency) you would talk to newbies? Why barrage people with purchase links for things they already bought? Email service providers make segmenting to different groups easy – take advantage of it.

ACT #3 – Knowledge (Of Your Fans) Is Power.

Bloodshot Records knows their audience. In a kick-off promotion for their year-end blowout sale, they had a prominent link to purchase which received enormous clicks. End of story? Not by a long shot. They sent a followup blowout sale eblast, picking up another impressive batch of clicks. The repetition worked – without irritating fans.

Normally this is a bad idea. Sending a similar promotion in a small timeframe to sweep up more clicks is a great way to boost your UNSUBSCRIBES. But Bloodshot, because they've earned the trust of a loyal fan base and have a feel for the relationship, gets away with strategic repetition and aggressive sales. 

If you're a budding band or a DJ, please tread lightly – you're still getting to know your fans. New signups want to hear from you, but if you overwhelm them with too many emails, you'll lose them overnight. 

If you insist on repeating an offer, be sure to update your header and content so it's not a strict repeat. Do like Bloodshot and reposition with added urgency or a countdown message. Say "last chance" or "only one more week left," to justify resending. Keep your sales message at the top of the email, and as always, don't forget to add content, goodies and links below, to keep ALL the fans happy.

•••••••

Keeping fans happy – that's what entertainment's all about. Marketing for entertainment is no different. Consistency is about meeting expectations every time. Segmenting is about not boring your submarkets with a one-size-fits-all eblast. Knowing your fans is about having a feel for how aggressive you can get without being a turn-off.

Entertainers spend years honing their craft, asking tough questions and making adjustments and improvements. You can do the same with your marketing, by taking the above examples to heart and applying them to your next assignment. Break a leg!

(Don't miss next month's installment: Integrating email with social media – in the entertainment category, of course.) 

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