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What kind of marketer are you? Am I? You are one whether you realize it or not.

Seth Godin is the guru of marketing I've been waiting for the last five years, able to condense all the malarky and guess work of marketing down to musician-level simplified inspiration and practical application. (Thanks Matthew for introducing us.)

He's written about permission marketing a great deal - the idea that consumers often do the marketing/advertising for the product/company. In the music busines we call these marketing-capable consumers "fans." Joining a street team is the most commonly recognized form of fan-driven marketing in Nashville but there's so much more fans do to spread the word, intentionally and unintentionally.

  • Burning a copy of a CD you love (if granted permission to do so by the artist) and passing it on to five friends is also fan marketing.

  • As is playing that CD in your car

  • Taking your friends to a concert

  • Or entering their names when downloading an artist's free music.

    It's all marketing. Passing on knowledge or experience of a product you love, whether the product is a person, sound or idea.

    More powerful, I believe, than banner adds on web sites and full page adds in Rolling Stone. Enough fans talking well about an artist and that artist will spread even without radio play, great placement in stores, a budget or a massive tour. Fans, acting as marketers, enabled and encouraged by the artist (permission), can make an artist.

    But it has to be done well - the fans job that is. WHAT a fan says and HOW a fan says it creates an image, an identity, for an artist that can help or hurt the artist.

    Fan marketing has to be true. It has to accurately reflect the product.

  • When a tiny tiny portion of X Artist's fan base reacted to me on X's message board recently for posting about X in what they saw as a negative way, I immediately thought "This isn't how X would want to be defended. This doesn't fit what I know about X." Their reaction (marketing) told a lie about who X is and what X's music is about. And in calling me names and making threats in reaction to my "harming" X's career they may have, ironically, done a better job of it than I.

    Because we are all marketers, willing or unwilling, what we say and how we say it affects the products we represent. Not only that, but simply who we ARE has the same effect.

  • When rappers started wearing Adidas back in the 1980s the shoe became associated with the new youthful innovative urban sounds of Run DMC and the like. Before that, Adidas were just tennis shoes for adults. The type of consumer wearing the shoes changed the product's DNA.

  • An Adult Contemporary radio station asked me once how they could attract more college students (I was a college-aged pastor at the time.) I told them they probably couldn't. Adult Contemporary Christian radio is too closely associated with moms to attract many from outside that narrow audience - especially college students who want to think they're cooler than their mother.

    In church planting circles there's a theory that the first 100 members determine the kind of members the next 1000 will be. The trajectory of a product is set early on by who the early adopters are.

  • My career was jolted to life five years ago by much appreciated massive amounts of Adult Contemporary radio play. Over 100K records (and fans) resulted. And those early fans, to a degree, determined the kind of fans I've had ever since. Getting my "product" to spread in another subculture has been difficult to say the least. (This blog has helped.) I'd love to retain my original audience and their friends while moving to other types of music lovers as well but it seems unlikely. Seth might say metaphoricaly that I need Run DMC to wear my shoes on the MTV Music Awards.

  • I was interested in Howard Dean as a candidate for a second, based really, honestly, only on his black horse status. I like the underdog. Karate Kid. Rocky. Good flicks. But when certain celebrities attached their names, anger and angendas to his candidacy he suffered and lost my interest. They tld me something about who he is and away I went.

    All this to say, I wonder how my "fans", my marketers, communicate me to other people and what impact that has on my ministry/career if any. I wonder what I can do to better support their efforts and clarify who I am for them. What do they want? What do they need?

    This blog has been a step toward supporting their accurate marketing efforts. No one need guess who I am and what I'm about. I'm here everyday. Talk to me. Hopefully you'll find something worth marketing...I mean talking about with your friends. And by all means, let me know if I can help you have a better conversation with them.

    You have more power than anyone in a marketing meeting. Seriously. Thanks to those who wield for me. Wouldn't be here without you.

    Blogger Mustard Packet Pelter said...

    Promoting music that is good isn't hard. Promoting music that is amazing and that made by a friend is simple. I've talked to almost 20 students 8 of those being my trailermates all of them are convinced I should invite Shaun to TFC for a Spring concert and to lead chapel one day. They want to borrow my Shaun Groves cd's to listen to them and I've told them specifically NO RIPPING. I just let them know that I'm going to a concert in Knoxville for Fall break and they're welcome to come and can get 5 dollar tickets if they email this Brian guy who's amazing too. And on top of that if they can't come I'm taking orders for only 10 dollars they can get their pick of 1 Shaun Groves cd and get it signed! No shipping or handling fees whatsoever. It's not because I say Shaun's music is good (which it is it's amazing) but it's because Shaun's life is good. His mind is good, his heart is good, his teaching is good. There are so many things that are good about Shaun Groves it just makes him a positive subject to talk about.

    Blogger Shaun Groves said...

    Wow. Thanks.

    Blogger GrovesFan said...

    It is easy to market what we ourselves enjoy or find good for whatever reason; usually. I love your cds; both musically and lyrically. I've had to buy multiple copies because of the amount of time they spend in my car's cd player and out because the kids are constantly borrowing them. It is very easy for me to also buy copies to give to those I want to share great music with as well as those I want to share their message with who might otherwise not hear it in such a creative way. Marketing

    It's harder for me however to market Christ to those same people sometimes in a more direct way. While I continually strive to find ways to serve those in real ways (feeding, clothing, helping in ways I'm able to), actually talking with them about their need for Christ is still hard sometimes. While intellectually I realize that their possible rejection of the gospel is not rejection of me, getting my heart to follow doesn't always come easily and no one likes to be dismissed.

    Sharing you and your music is easier because if they don't like it for whatever twisted, obviously gift-recognizing inabilities they are plagued with, then there's still a chance that the Holy Spirit will grab their attention through other means. Rejecting Christ however carries the dire death sentence that there is no way back from. While Christ obviously doesn't need me to carry out His work here on earth, He asks that I do my best to bring Him glory and to see that no one goes without hearing The Truth. As much as I love your music and even more your teaching, you don't carry the same "clout" if you know what I mean. I do believe that God uses my desire to market you and your ministry to bring glory to Him and reach others for His kingdom as long as that's my goal too. I will try harder for both of us to make sure that it is my only motivation.

    I consider myself to more than a "fan" of yours in the sense that some may define the word. I'm a "fan" of MWS, Third Day, Taylor Sorneson, and others, but I'm not friends with any of them. Although we are not neighbors, nor do we correspond or talk on a regular basis, you referred to me in a conversation we had as your friend, and that is something I place a great deal of value in. Friends are important to me and for me, and when I have friends that I know are honest with me, even when it hurts or is hard, and those that take the time to stretch me because they care, are one of the best parts of my life. There's a big difference in being friendly and being friends. One costs a lot more than the other but also returns much bigger dividends. I hope you think it's OK that I consider us to be friends and not merely friendly.


    Anonymous keith said...

    Wield for you, eh? I've never considered myself a good wielder. It's too hard to see what you're doing through that dark visor.

    Blogger Shaun Groves said...


    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What's nice?

    Blogger Shaun Groves said...

    Nice = Sarcastic for "Good one"

    Blogger Brody Harper said...

    I'm nice.

    Blogger Shaun Groves said...

    No you're not.

    Anonymous keith said...

    No, no. This is Nice.

    Blogger Mustard Packet Pelter said...

    Wow what a way to get off topic.

    Blogger shaunfan said...

    I consider myself a Shaun Groves "fan" because I've met you at a concert in Pennsylvania back in July. I am an avid music collector and was drawn to your music because I was a fairly new Christian when "Welcome Home" came out and I felt like I knew you because the song came from your heart and spoke to how my heart was feeling. I've shared your music mostly by singing your songs at my small group and Sunday school class and in my church like "Here I Am".

    As for marketing yourself, you do it best by being yourself and I know of at least 3 "younger" fans you have, my 6 and 2 year old daughters who were also at your concert and know all of the words to several of your songs. My 3rd daughter was born 4 days after your concert so she is possibly your youngest fan at 2 months old.

    Similar to grovesfan, I "know" you by reading your blog and sharing your music and message with others. Keep doing what you are doing and please let me know what I can do to help you "market" your live CD and DVD after you record them next month.



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