Postering Like A Street Monkey

On the subject of guerilla marketing…

The first thing you have to do to be a monkey is throw away everyone else’s way of doing things when you set out to accomplish a task. Start from scratch, all the time. That doesn’t mean ignore the learning of generations – but it does mean think for yourself. There are a finite number of tools accessible to you, but an infinite way to use them.

A lot of times people forget where the concept of guerilla marketing came from. It’s not about baking cakes – it’s about waging marketing warfare. You aren’t all lining up in neatly packed rows, and squaring off. You’ve got to pick off new customers one at a time – hand-to-hand. Sometimes when they’re looking for you, and sometimes when they don’t even know you exist.

So that’s why my very first blog is about flyering and postering before shows. As humbling as it is, it is also an important part of marketing yourself as a musician. Just like all of the other parts of your marketing efforts, guerilla marketing gets you in touch with all you are striving for in developing your career. I don’t care what anyone else tells you. The most important thing about building your audience is getting in touch with the market. There is no better way to get to know your market than walking the streets and meeting the people.

Just as you have to know which newspapers to send press releases to, and which radio stations to have playing your record, and which venue you want to play in six months – you’ve got to get to know the streets. Get in the head of the people who listen to your music, and walk in their shoes. That’s what flyering is all about. See with their eyes, instead of your own.

You’ll find that you’ll start seeing the neigborhoods in which you play in a whole new light. Electricity gauge boxes, newspaper stands, light poles, public telephones – they all take on a new meaning. You won’t be able to pass a wall without seeing a great spot for a poster. You know you’re really getting good when you start to get down the schedule on which posters are cleaned from public boards. You can start to tell which corners have most traffic, but least amount of time up.

10 Tips for Postering

1. Get in the mind of your audience. Where do they eat? What paper do they read? What’s their favorite bookstore? Do they ride the subway or bus? Don’t just go out there willy-nilly. Take a minute to think about your target market and plan before hitting the street.

2. Isolate neighborhoods that are most likely to expose your posters to your target market. Find coffeeshops and “the usual places” in those areas. They generally have boards to post on. It’s the most respectable work you’re gonna do in flyering. The rest is all pretty gritty.

3. Check the weather. If it’s gonna rain today, but not tomorrow, wait. I know you need them up for as long as possible, but it’s no good if they get all soggy. The day after rain can sometimes be the best cuz nobody’s posted and the other posters have been washed away, leaving less competition for people’s attention. If you really want to get posters up and it’s raining or snowing, put them up in indoor locations like coffeeshops, bookstores, and public transit shelters.

4. Use good tape. Nothing sucks more than going out postering, exhausting yourself, and having them fall down without even being touched by the “cleaners”…

5. Don’t spend a lot of money on the printing of your posters. Better to have lots of them, than have them in pretty colors. Just come up with a simple design. If you’re hell-bent on spending money, get a designer to create a nice black-and-white template for your posters that you can photocopy onto colored paper. 8 1/2 x 11 is just fine for the job and easy to tote around town with you.

6. Use the same images on your posters so people get used to seeing them, and knowing it’s you. Then, they’ll be more likely to stop. If you have an image you use on your web site and in the press, use it for your flyers, too. Just like in mainstream marketing, repeating an image in multiple sources makes people trust is as a familiar image. They are more likely to retain information associated with it.

7. Think like a monkey. Spread out your posters – some in places you know a lot of people walk but will be taken down. Some in places that not as many people walk, but they’re likely to stay up longer.

8. Don’t poster over someone else, especially if they have a gig on the same day as you. It’s totally wrong, and spreads bad kharma. Think of your fellow guerilla marketers as comrades at arms whenever you can. One day, they might put a piece of tape on your falling-down flyer and save your ass. If you have the tape to spare, help them out, too. If their poster falls down and the local govt gets pissed because of littering, they might take the board down and then where will you be? On the other hand, they might poster over you. Well, shit, that’s life. Do what you want. We all navigate our own ships.

9. Put your posters at eye-level (not too high, not too low). Don’t make your audience work to read your info.

10. Read the other announcements you are postering near. It’s not bad to poster near someone who does something similar to you if your gigs are on different nights. Someone might stop to read theirs and see yours.

That’s it for now. Happy monkeying…