So I started writing this article and I went on so many different ‘side rants’ that I decided to break them up into a ‘series’ of posts about how closely knit being in a band is with ‘the business world.’ Here’s part two… (Go here for part one)
Let’s Talk About Music
You know there’s a few interactions I’ve had over the past few weeks that got me thinking about my business relationships. It started, as usual, over music. Music, and the business of music, is the most honest form of business. Mostly because it’s not considered a ‘real‘ business.
There are plenty of bands I’ve played with over the years who don’t play music that I particularly like. They’re talented doods, but it’s just not my style. It’s like if I listened to Hip Hop and they played Country music. Often times these are the same bands that I will go out of my way to see. Why? Because they’re awesome guys who are really good at what they play and I enjoy supporting them and watching them do what they’re passionate about. I’ve also seen my share of bands who are a little cocky and arrogant when it comes to shows. They show up, don’t watch the bands and are ultimately concerned with themselves and their ‘performance.’ These are the same guys I tend not to go out of my way to see.
If you’re not in a band, or haven’t been to a ‘local’ or bar show in a while, you can still relate this to the ‘bigger’ guys, because most of it translates ‘on the big screen.’ You hear typical stories about some Rock (or Pop) Star doing something for the fans or helping out after a natural disaster and it’s the same idea. You see some musicians really working overtime to still have a ‘connection’ with their fans while other people really just look at it as a job and couldn’t care less. Their ego’s tell them that their fans are ‘privileged to be able to witness their talent’ instead of knowing they wouldn’t be there without the fans. There should always be a mutual respect.
Let’s Talk About Your Business Sincerity!
I’ve been in the ‘business world’ (Boy do I hate saying that) for about half of the time I’ve been involved in music, but there is no doubt in my mind that I have the same ethics/mindset/whatever-you-wanna-call-it for both music and business. I like to help support businesses that have the same mindset as me. I like to help support businesses that I think are sincere. Businesses that don’t think…but actually believe they can help someone with their product or service.
In fact, when someone asks you to recommend a service/business, chances are you recommend someone you believe is a sincere business person. A person with passion. To be honest, when someone asks me to recommend someone always makes me feel good. It means they trust me to help them make the right decision and, to a certain extent, they believe I’m sincere. I remember my boss telling me a story from Chris Lytle (and I’m paraphrasing, at best) that there are levels of trust with a salesman. When someone asks you to recommend a service that isn’t related to your industry, that means there is a high level of trust that’s involved.
Anyone who knows me, or has dealt with me knows that I’m a firm believer of ‘intent precedes content.’ Heck, I even wrote an article about being sincere with your social media. Everything I do for my clients is based on some level of sincerity. If I’m doing a project and you get billed for 4 hours, chances are I really spent 5 hours on it.
When I create packages, they’re for the same reason. I created a package called the Going Social Media Package. Why? Because I saw a bunch of small mom & pop shops who just had a Facebook Page and weren’t utilizing all the other great social media websites out there that could potentially help their business. I asked a few businesses why they didn’t have a Twitter or Yelp account and the reply was that they either didn’t have time to ‘do‘ it, or that they didn’t want to spend the time ‘learning‘ it or setting it up. So, I put together an ‘easily digestible‘ package with the tagline: “Get signed up, set up and submitted to the top social media sites.”
All this has to do with intent. I didn’t build Going Social with the intent to make money. I built it because I’m signing up for those social media’s all the time when I’m building websites and I thought it might be a good service that I can offer as a sweet, little package for business owners. I wasn’t sitting in a dark, smoke filled room with one desk lamp on wondering how I could get rip people off and make loads of money with a sweet marketing ploy.
Get People Rooting For You!
I remember years ago, my former band played its biggest show ever at The Welmont Theater. We opened for some friends who ‘made it’ and we were really honored to be playing. After the show, we got an onslaught of messages from people wanting to play with us. Most of them were just because we knew the ‘bigger’ band and thought if they played with us they might be able to meet them. Most of the time I had to reply to these people and ask, “Are you really sure? We really just play in front of 20 people. We’re not a big deal and you’re not going to meet the headlining band.” There was one dood that sent us a message and actually seemed real sincere, so I checked out his band. They had a video and they were actually really good. So, we put them on a show. They blew us away and were so appreciative that we ‘hooked them up.’ Then I found out the singer (at that time) was 20 years old. I was blown away and felt like more people needed to see this band! We helped to get them a few more shows and hooked them up with some bands we thought they would fit with. Over the past three years, we’ve become real good friends and I would do anything in my power to help them on their path. They’re sincere. They offer something sincere. If they played amazing music, but were cocky and arrogant…I wouldn’t have given them the time of day.
Similarly, when I first started my radio sales job, my former boss confronted me with something similar. I was totally ‘wet behind the ears,’ but my boss said there’s something to be said about that. He said that I was eager to learn and if I was sociable, confident and knowledgable then people would start rooting for me. That I was young and ambitious and people would want to see me succeed. I wasn’t totally comfortable with it, but my first contract was ‘sold’ after a business owner asked if his business would be my first contract. I said ‘yes,’ and he said “I want to be your first contract” and signed it. I proved to him over time that I knew what I was doing, but it was a nice feeling that someone wanted to see me succeed, after only sitting with them for two hours.
Your business is the same way. Whether you’re young or not, people form an emotional connection to believe they like (obviously) and they will root for you. If you’re sincere then people will do everything in their power to make sure you succeed. But there’s gotta be a mutual respect…
Intent & Mutual Respect
In the beginning was mutual respect. If you don’t care about your customers then how do you expect them to root for you and help you succeed!?
One time, when I was in a band, I went to a local venue/bar on a night when no one I knew was playing. I wanted to see what bands were like when I didn’t know who they are or I had no connection to them. I remember watching these 21-year-old kids with their giant expensive Marshall stacks playing a real amazing set. It wasn’t my style of music at all but the singer kept his voice on point the whole set and the band was really tight. I turned to the sound guy, Gabe and asked him, “What the hell is going on here. I wasn’t anywhere nearly that good when I was 21. Hell, I’m not that good now? Why are there 80 people in this basement when we play and there’s 20 kids here for this show?” Gabe in his infinite wisdom turned and said that we had a totally different attitude. He said that when we play we still show respect to the venue and it’s significance in the ‘underground music scene,’ and that these kids really ‘expect’ to be there. I was kinda blown away, but then he dropped the real bomb that got me thinking. He said, “These kids play music to be in a band. You are in a band to play music.” Wow. That little difference in intention made all the difference.
I wanted to test the theory, and I really wanted to hear if their ‘sound’ translated to disc so, when they were done, I asked one of the guys if they had any demos. He simply replied that he ‘thinks they’re on the table’ and walked away. After that, I figured “Screw it. If he doesn’t wanna take the time to talk to someone he doesn’t know who appreciated what he was doing, then I don’t need the demo.”
Your business is the same way. I hate going into a store and asking someone if they have a particular product and hearing their sentence start with, “I think…” It’s the absolute worst. If I’m asking you a question, that means I want an answer and “I think” isn’t going to cut it. You’re suppose to be the knowledgeable professional! “I think” usually precedes “over the ‘whatever’ isle/section” and I usually do an about-face and walk out of the store. If your job is to help customers…then help them! Don’t give them your best guess! If you don’t care about helping your customers then your customers won’t expect to be helped…and really won’t care about coming back to your store.
I wish I could become friends with all my clients. I wish I had the time and energy. I enjoy the occasions when I do get to work for people who are my friends. They know they’re going to be taken care of and I enjoy helping them make their businesses successful. This is my outlook every time I get a new client. I treat them as if they were a good friend of mine. I hope you’re treating your customer’s with the same respect.