Marketing by sharing

A technique of creating a captivating audience by sharing your knowledge and teaching other people about your domain

Jason Fried, the co-founder of Basecamp (formerly known as 37signals), is the advocate of marketing by sharing. Photo © Intercom

Hi Daniel. I’m learning audio engineering and I would like to offer mastering services. My question may sound odd for your blog, but how to get clients? Maybe you have some advice from the producer’s perspective and your experience in social media and all? How do you find mastering engineers as an artist? Is it worth setting up a Facebook ad campaign or Google AdWords?

Edward Hansen

Edward, I believe there is a better way of getting clients than advertisement — by sharing your knowledge and creating an audience. Tell other people about what you doing, teach them, show your expertise. I know there are some people thinking that others might steal your ideas if you share them, but it’s a paranoid, defensive way of thinking.

I would like to quote Jason Fried’s talk at The Chicago Convergence in 2008 because I couldn’t say any better:

“I think this [marketing by sharing] is especially relevant for small business and especially in creative industry because it’s really expensive and difficult to break out: there is a ton of small design shops, there is a ton of video shops. And how do you get known, how do people find out who you are? Of course you can hire a PR firm but it’s a waste of money and I wouldn’t do that, you can advertise somewhere but I don’t think it’ll work either because it’s hard to advertise design to kind of right people and it’s expensive. You can try some more traditional marketing ideas but I don’t think those generally work either.

What I think you should be doing is thinking about how can you teach people about your domain. If you are a web designer, for example, you can teach people about what it’s like to be a web designer, about CSS, HTML, what it’s like to land a client, you can talk about what it’s like to prepare a proposal or respond to an RFP. And these the things you can do on your website.

So, when you start sharing and start teaching other people, the great thing about it is all of a sudden you create an audience, which is a kind of a secret weapon when it comes to promoting your business. If you don’t have an audience, you have to constantly spend money to tell more and more people about your service, and after they buy something they go away and they don’t coming back until they want something else. But when you build an audience, when you generate a useful content, people keep coming back to you every day for more information. Eventually, when they’re ready to sign up or they need a web designer or whatever you do, they will have you in mind because they been coming back to you every day. And that’s a really effective way of reaching people without spending a lot of money.

Or, let’s say, you a writer. A freelance writer, or a journalist, or someone like that who needs to find more gigs and looking for more people to hire them. You should be talking about what it’s like to be a writer on your site. Most sites simply have a ‘Portfolio’, ‘About us’, and ‘Contact us’ page and that’s pretty much it, but you should have a section where you share drafts that were rejected, words that you left out. You should share one sentence you’re working on, share all different iterations and talk about why you left this one out, why you change these words, why you transpose these two words, what’s difference between final version comparing to the initial one. You need to share this process because people who read this are gonna go like: ‘This guy knows his shit. He cares enough about the words, he cares enough how words sound and structured to share with me the process he went through’. And that mean a whole lot more than someone who simply shares a series or essays or articles they’ve written. That’s how you begin to build your audience.”

The best thing about this technique is it can be used for pretty much any small businesses or services, even in music industry. I highly suggest watching the full video above whether you are a songwriter, a mastering engineer, a film score producer, a journalist, a label owner, a visual artist and so on.

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2017   Advice   Marketing

This post is a part of the “Advice” series. I’m happy to advise on such topics as music production, sound design, performance, management, marketing, and career advice in the music industry and beyond. Send me your questions, too.



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