Persistent and consistent follow-up is one of the key elements to a successful touring career. This holds true whether you are trying to book a gig, land an interview with a local or major paper, get a record deal or find an agent or a manager. Those who simply send out their promotional packets and wait for a response may as well disconnect their phones and save on the monthly bill—you won’t get a return call.
This business is filled with very busy people trying to handle all of the thousands of incoming requests for gigs, articles, record deals and management deals. If you are serious about what you do, then nothing could be more important than follow-up on every contact. If you are the one selling your act, you need to be the one making the follow-up calls without expecting calls from your prospective buyers in return. You are not the first and last thought on their mind, but they must be the first and last thought on yours if you want the gig, the interview, or the deal.
Follow-up should be done professionally. While speaking to your contact the first time, after promising to send your promotional packet, indicate that you will check on the packet’s arrival in a few days. Make a note to yourself to follow-up with that person in four days and mark the date in your calendar. If you send something overnight, call the next day to make sure it arrived and the mailing service to whom you paid big bucks, delivered on their overnight guarantee. If you send them a link to your online press kit, you can call the next day or discuss it with them while you’re on the first call right then. Your first follow-up call is simply to make sure that either the packet arrived, or they reviewed the website or online press kit. If at all possible try to speak with your original contact in order to get this information. This gives you a second chance to build your relationship with the main contact. You should also ask when they intend to review your packet if they hadn’t already so you can make another appointment to follow-up and get their comments or perhaps begin negotiations. Make the appointment for the third follow-up call for no more than two weeks into the future unless they suggest something else. If it is very far off, get them to schedule a sooner date. If they are unsure of a time by which they will have reviewed the material, suggest a time approximately two weeks out when you will call back to check on their progress. They are alerted to the fact you will be checking back so that when you do call, it won’t seem too soon or feel like you are hounding them.
There is an art to follow-up. You want to keep yourself pleasantly in the forefront of their mind, yet you don’t want to become a pest. This is why it is so important to establish an enjoyable, conversational relationship with your contact from the beginning. As each subsequent follow-up call is made, your contact will look forward to speaking with you and perhaps even move the process along more rapidly. Always ask your contact when you should check back to get them to commit to an upcoming date in the very near future. Since these dates are at your contact’s suggestion, you can always open your next conversation with, “You suggested that I call you today to discuss…” With this kind of opening, you will never seem to be a pest.
Why is the follow-up so important? If you don’t follow-up on promotional packets that you mailed, you could be wasting lots of money. Promoters, reviewers, editors, agents, labels all receive many thousands of packets each week. They get piled in corners of back rooms and often remain unopened. If you want your packet to move to the top of the pile and get reviewed, you need to check on its arrival and subsequently its status. Your follow-up can make that happen. It jars your contact into action, eventually. I have heard such sad stories of artists who sent a packet to labels, and they haven’t heard back from the label. When I ask, “How long ago did you send your packet?” They reply, “Oh, it must be three or four months now.” When I ask them if they had called to follow-up and they hadn’t, I just wanted to shake them. Instead, I remind them that theirs was not the only packet sent to their contact during these last four months, and they should probably send another and then call a few days later. Their original packet has probably been lost in a black hole or at least it is buried at the bottom of one of the many piles of promotional packets sent more recently.
Now that you can send a link to your online press kit, it is no less important that you follow-up with your contacts to make sure they reviewed it. Just as an import, is the accompanying email letter you send with the link. First, having the contacts name and direct email will speed things along and make your email more personal and less likely to be deleted as spam. State the reason for your email and what your intended goals are; i.e. have them review the packet for a potential gig, inclusion on their agency roster or label. So often, emails are sent simply asking the person to check out our band, and a link is provided. Why do I need to check out your band? What exactly to want the outcome to be once I’ve checked it out? Make sure you are specific and give the person some reason to go further with this email invitation. Let them know you know something about the venue, agency, and label. Let them know that you’ve done your research, and they are not just another email from a database list.
One of the reasons that follow-up can become a daunting process is that too often artists attempt to contact too many prospects at once decreasing their chances for effectively following-up in a timely manner. Set realistic goals for contacting buyers, media and industry professionals. Don’t attempt those mass mailings to thousands, even hundreds when you know that the only way to reap any benefit is by directly contacting each one. Send out five or ten at a time. You can make five or ten follow-up calls much more easily than attempting hundreds. Keep yourself concerned with only five or ten at a time. Be consistent with each one and keep track of each one. Five or ten is very manageable. When you keep the numbers low, the rewards are much greater.
I’ll leave you with some food for thought. When was the last time you made an initial contact and then neglected to follow-up? What is stopping you from maintaining the connection? What is hampering you from completing the process? When you answer these questions and really consider the problem, you may be able to find new enthusiasm for the follow-up process and add to your success. Until next time, keep in touch with your contacts!
And, I invite you to learn more about this and other topics important to your career development and to sign up for free weekly audio Biz Booster Hot Tip! Every Monday you’ll get another valuable strategy and technique that you can put to use immediately. You’ll find helpful books, career development seminars, Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets online course and information on booking tours, the music business and performing arts. It’s all waiting for you at http://www.performingbiz.com. Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring, 3rd Edition.
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