Developing your growth hacking strategy as a musician
As I said in part one of this series, a growth hacker is laser focused on growth.
The problem is that there are many ways to grow. In part one, I mentioned at least eight tactics you could build your strategy around.
If you’re going at this alone, you’re going to want to choose just one tactic and hammer it with everything you’ve got.
Even if you’ve got a small team, you may not want to deviate too far from the central strategy.
So, at this point, you may not know what your strategy is going to be. You may want to read the rest of this series on growth hacking and then decide how you want to go about this.
Creating Your Strategy
Either way, you need a strategy, and it should be written down.
This is a key point, so I’m going to say it again:
Your strategy should be clearly documented and visible to you always.
And, I’m not talking about a business plan. There’s a huge problem with business plans — the information is laid out sequentially. The reason this is a problem is because each component of a strategy is — and should be — interconnected.
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this, but with most business plans you can’t just start at page one and work your way through to the end. You end up needing to jump around. This is a terrible way to organize information you’re constantly going to be referring to. To be honest, this is an outdated way of doing things too.
Your entire strategy needs to be laid out on just one page, a whiteboard or poster board. If you need more retail space, then a whiteboard or poster board is a better option.
So, one of the first hacks you’re going to execute as a growth hacker is in creating a one-page strategy that makes it clear who your audience is, what resources you have access to, what your value proposition is, what channel you’ll be using to attract your audience, what strategic partners and alliances you could make, how you’re going to make money, and so on.
There are different ways of putting together a one-page growth hacking plan. I think it’s best to make it visually appealing, and it shouldn’t just be a wall of text. I recently learned about the Strategyzer Business Model Canvas, and I think this is one tool you could use to lay out your strategy.
Now, there are a few components we’re not going to pay heed to as growth hackers. The Business Model Canvas has a section for “Cost Structure”, and cost is not something we’re going to pay a lot of attention to. You’re either going to put in a lot of sweat equity, utilize a bit of your own money, or find another source of funding before you even get started.
To me, the most important sections to use with a Business Model Canvas are: “Key Partners”, “Key Activities”, “Value Propositions”, “Channels”, and “Revenue Streams”. You’re going to spend some time thinking about “Customer Segments” but not a lot. We want to get our targeting down to broad strokes as opposed to fine-tuned buyer personas.
As for alternatives to the Business Model Canvas, you could also take advantage of Allan Dib’s 1-Page Marketing Plan or even adapt something like the Kanban system to suit your needs.
Again, the key points here are that you take time to document your strategy, that it gives you a good bird’s eye view of what you’re trying to achieve, and it’s visually appealing. So long as you follow those rules, the rest is up to you.
Building Systems Around Your Strategy
A business owner recently shared with me that there are three personalities in every startup. I’m sure he got this from somewhere, but I don’t know where.
There’s the Hipster, the Hacker and the Hustler.
The Hipster is the creative person who’s skilled at connecting with an audience.
The Hacker is the systems person. They create processes and checklists that enable the team to function at peak efficiency.
The Hustler is essentially the salesperson. They work hard to convert leads into customers.
So, if you’re running a solo operation, I’m inviting you to see yourself as all three. Naturally, you’re going to be stronger in one area and weaker in others and that’s okay.
But for the intents and purposes of what I’m about to discuss, I want you to try on that role of the Hacker. To succeed as a growth hacker, you need systems.
There are many ways to map out processes and procedures, but I’m partial to checklists. When I say the word “checklist”, I probably don’t need to explain it, because you’re familiar with that format and know how it works.
Sequential thinking doesn’t work on a strategy level. But it works exceptionally well at a granular level. Most tasks you do can be broken down into a checklist.
Let’s say you’re planning to utilize social media as a core part of your strategy. So, inevitably there are going to be repetitive tasks you’re going to need to do. Repetitive tasks should always be turned into checklists.
For instance, let’s say you’re going to be posting something new to social media every day. So, here’s what a minimum viable checklist or skeleton might look like:
- Post to Facebook.
- Post to Twitter.
- Post to Instagram.
- Post to LinkedIn.
Now, you’re not just posting to those social networks. You’re posting something specific in a specific way at a specific time. So, you would create a description for each step, detailing exactly what needs to be done.
For example, you might add this description under the first step for Facebook:
“Ask a question, such as ‘what do you like most about metal music?’. Use fun and engaging questions that people will interact with. This allows us to gather more information on what our followers like and how we can create more of that. Post at 10 AM each morning.”
Are there tools to help you create and manage your checklists? There certainly are.
For most people, I suggest using a free tool, such as Google Drive or Evernote. In Google Drive, you would simply create a Google Doc and map out your checklist step by step. In Evernote, you can use checkboxes to make your checklist documents more stylized.
If you don’t mind spending a bit of money, I wholeheartedly recommend using SweetProcess. This is an online app that was developed specifically for the purpose of creating and managing checklists. I’ve used it myself in the past and think it’s a great tool.
Defining Your Target Audience
There’s one more thing we need to talk about here and that’s defining your target audience.
Now, your music isn’t for everyone. So, we need to get specific enough that you aren’t just sending your message out to everybody. At the same time, we don’t want to get so specific that you need to spend ages in research. What we need is broad strokes.
The good news is there are a few tools that make it easy for you to get a good idea of who your target audience is.
The first tool is Alexa. First, you can enter your own website, if you have one, and learn about the location of your audience, what keywords people are using to find your site, who links to you and more.
Now, here’s where the real juice is — you can also enter competitor websites and learn about their audience. So, think of any artist or band like you who has a massive following. Enter their website into Alexa and spy on who their audience is. This should help you construct a solid demographic profile of who you’re trying to reach.
Another great tool for analyzing a website’s target audience is SimilarWeb. As with Alexa, you would simply enter popular websites into their tool, which will provide you with some valuable data.
If you have a good amount of traffic coming to your website, then Google Analytics is also a good place to look. Simply look under Audience > Demographics > Overview and you should get a good sense of the age range and gender of people visiting your website.
Similarly, if you have a sizable following on your Facebook page, you can look at your Insights to get a sense of where your audience is located, what age range they’re in and whether you have a male or female dominated niche.
The tools I’ve just shared with you give you a good handle on your audience’s demographic information. But there is a great deal more you can learn about them if you’re willing to dive deeper.
Neil Patel has a guide on QuickSprout called A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Reader Personas, and that’s a handy resource if you want to create a psychographic profile for your audience.
I think that’s going a little beyond the level of broad strokes, but if you’re willing to do the work, then go right ahead. You can always start hustling after you’ve carefully crafted your plan of attack. Just don’t spend ages in planning, as that flies in the face of growth hacking.