To Postcard or Not to Postcard
I still think that it is a good thing to have the visual (your handsome mug) in the clubs when folks are walking by on their way in/out of the clubs. They are there to see a show, so they are the type to go to shows which is your demographic.
I did a lot of research before I originally taught this class asking myself: What kind of postcard was attracting me to go to a show? Or what was it about the postcard; say of someone that I didn’t know, that made me put it into the pile to check out vs. the pile to toss out? I also did this exercise for me, to help me decide on what kind of postcards I wanted to represent myself with and I decided a few things:
- Sorry folks, but expensive looking postcards (high gloss, real photos, larger cards, color) made me think that this person was good. Maybe it was just the initial psychological impression, but it also said to me, “money” and it said, “this person cares about their image”. Time and time again these were the types of cards that went into my “MUST SEE” pile. Now, does this translate to talent? Not always as we have all realized by being hooked into a show that had a GREAT flier.
- Create a great “hook”. My JAM N’ TOAST© show had a cute caricature that I had drawn on the streets of New Orleans for $25 of my pianist and me (see below) and I offer this not as a pat on my back but as an example of a flier that sold my product before I even got to the venue. I didn’t even realize it at the time that I was creating a hook.
This was a 5×7 card in full color of a cartoon of us, so it was different. When we played Odette’s in PA I was not yet known there. I sent these fliers out 1 month before our run and they put them on the tables and they started to disappear so the club kept replenishing them. We had 2 packed nights in a town that didn’t know me from Adam. The flier sold the show. This happened again in Florida with my Peggy, Rosie & Ella show…putting those three gals on a flier in a venue where I was playing to older folks sold my show out before I even got into town. Let the postcard speak for you and work for you….Marketing 101! I am still using this card today!
- Create a consistent format of how your postcards look so that when you post them, even before one reads the content, you know visually that it is Sue Matsuki’s card. This goes along with my class on “branding” and creating an image by keeping things consistent (see below) like your font choices and maybe it’s that I always do a full-color 5×7 card.
- Create your own logo (find a font that suits your name/personality) and use it consistently on all your products…postcards; press kits; stationary; your return address on your mailing labels; website; and CDs. I used Phillip Officer’s CDs and fliers in my lectures because he’s created a whole line of this type of image by using different caricatures for each show or CD. When you go to the record store and scan male vocalist, guess whose CD covers jump out at you? It’s NOT just another handsome face in a sea of handsome faces…it’s unique and sticks out like a sore thumb…GREAT marketing! He also keeps all of this packaging and press materials consistent and his postcards are always really cool.
- I like to use Jason Wynn’s postcard for his show, Not the Same Old @#$% as another example of brilliant marketing. Why? He was naked (except for a strategically placed poster – see below – you’re welcome) and he’s gorgeous. I still had his postcard on my refrigerator door (my husband kept saying, “Isn’t this show over already?”). This was just genius marketing because it appeals to the middle-aged housewife and the gay man in Chelsea. I would not recommend it for everyone. It was appropriate to Jason’s show and his look but it would not work for everyone.
- Another favorite card is muti-award winning Kristine Zbornick’s because the energy on the card is SO Kristine and you know what you’re going to get from this show just by looking at it.
- Too many words and too much hype and it goes into the wastebasket immediately. I’m too tired and too busy to read that much (she says after writing a gazillion word blog to you all!). A few nice brief reviews or one-liners ALWAYS helps but blah, blah, blah – if thou needs to bray too much, bye bye!
- Someone with great name recognition and talent like say, Mary Foster Conklin (if I may use dear Mary as an example) usually just sends out little brightly colored paper postcards announcing her dates for local gigs but, because she is well-known in the community, her money is definitely better spent on musician costs than advertising because hers went into my MUST SEE pile based on reputation and talent and the fact that I’m a big, goofy fan of hers. She did, however, create a consistent look by using the brightly colored paper postcards…I know that they are from Mary.
- Someone can be very handsome or beautiful and there could be something either hammy, goofy or overly, I don’t know, cocky or “I’m all it” in their energy that would throw me off (or turn me off) on the visual and I’d 86 that postcard. Is your photo a true representation of who you are now vs. 10 years ago or 40 lbs. ago? I’ll use me as an example again…
I hate to say this but I’m a “real sized” gal (boy do I hate to say that!) but my wonderful photographer can photograph me from magic angles, so I appear much thinner than I am. I have no shame in my size but when I show up for a gig in Florida, I also don’t want folks to go, “holy smokes!” You still want to look like you just glammed up a bit.
- If your show is a theme show – is your photo a true reflection of the energy you will bring to stage for that particular show? You can really confuse your audience and it will work against you in the end.
- Another question is in relation to the cost of producing your postcards…if your designer charges you in the $250-300 range and if you get say 1,000 cards for your show costing in the $300-400 range…you’re now spending between $550-$700 for postcards alone. This means that the question is: Will these cards bring in the 36-46 people you will need at a cover charge of $15.00 to pay for them? How are your rooms? What is your draw? What is your cover charge? If you are doing 4-6 shows, postcards will absolutely pay off for you…if you are doing only one…maybe not, unless it’s in a really big venue that seats over 100 people.
- Does your club put your cards out and offer to put a blow up of the card or poster in the venue window? Ask them and then swing by and check that they are out.
- If say, you already know that you will do three shows in May and then bring the show back in the Fall, you may want to order more cards than you need say, 1,500-2,000 cards (which will be cheaper) and then you can do the label trick on the 2nd run…”RETURN ENGAGEMENT” or “ENCORE PERFORMANCE” and then put your new dates…all the other information is the same…right? (Unless you change clubs of course.)
- Another trick is to get 4×6 postcards with just your lovely face on the front in bulk (say 3,000 cards) and then you use labels or just run the cards through your printer with the specific show details on the back. This way, you can use these cards for your return engagements or for several shows. As many of you have seen by my PR over the years, I took one photo, changed the color of the shawl and ran with that concept for several years using different colors for the different genres of music I was performing. I created a “hook” in my marketing.
There is a lot more on this topic but most of my research points toward using a combination of Email Lists, Social Media, Facebook Events, Twitter AND Postcards for the marketing of your show because: many folks on my list are still not on Email or any social media; people like the visual and they put it on their frig to remind them not to miss your show; you can have them with you when you go out to pass off to folks you may just meet; you can put them in the place where you get your coffee everyday or at your nail salon for people you see daily or weekly that you chat up and most importantly, they are in the club where other shows are happening and people very often take a flier that catches their eye with them on their way out.
So, To Postcard or Not to Postcard? I say, To Postcard!