My Realistic Promotion Plan (A Replicable 3-Axis Plan)

SStatement: I’m bored of mediocre artists doing mediocre promotion that everybody else has done 1.000 times before. It’s a shame for a naturally unconformable creature, the musician, to fall into the error of imitating what everyone else is doing to perfectly blend it.

Marketing is art as well, and I’m ready to prove that for myself, in a project that will start now and be completed the 24th of June. My band and I are having our first performance, all organized from scratch.

Before analyzing what I’ve prepared to promote my performance, here are some notable facts:

Theatro Technis, London

Theatro Technis, London

  • It’s a custom-made show in a small theatre, which I hired (they gave it to me for free, as they liked my vision). This is the theatre. None of the participants will be paid too, they loved the vision as well. I’ll just cover their expenses and give them some food. And beer.
  • It’s strictly non-advertised. That means no listings, no posters, no fliers and it’s not announced on any website (except for our own). Also we’re not affiliated with any sponsors.
  • There are two ways of getting in. The attendees will have to go through a treasure hunt in London to discover the tickets around the city. Or go for the boring way – buy the tickets. The whole experience is gamified.
  • The performance will be captured in many ways, as I’ll have photographers, two static cameras and one moving to make sure all emotions felt that night are on tape.
  • The show will include 1,5 hours of dark music (by SideSteps and another band), dance (two Bollywood dancers who’ll dance to rock music!) & a burlesque group, strong visuals (video projections throughout the whole show) and a manifesto that binds the audience together. Last but not least, improvised performances to make the audience interact with the show.

The punchline: Die For 9 – An interactive, theatrical rock experience.

Here is the website:

Ok, let’s cut to the chase. My simple 3 axes plan.

  1. Offline
  2. Online
  3. Existing network

I. Offline

Gamification elements here – I’ve created a real-life treasure hunt. London as a board game. The show is a local thing and experience, not merely a music gig, so I concluded that an offline local promotion should be the focal point of the strategy. Offline = targeted by definition and adding some game mechanics can enhance the experience itself – or even be part of the show before it has even started. It also involves some tasks for the people to find the tickets, which filters out the ones who don’t want to spend time to it. The kind of people I want to come in for free are the ones who really care and find the creative approach intriguing.


1. 150 Stickers

The stickers will be numbered with a marker and will be placed in places where the desired group of people will see them organically. Art schools, bar toilets, industrial clubs, the metro etc. are places that could make people see those stickers and make them talk about them (social objects). The instructions on the sticker:

Bloody hell! You found one of the 150 numbered stickers around London. Tweet a picture of this sticker (number should be visible) with #DieFor9 and And if you’ve found it first… you get a free ticket for you and a friend!

Each sticker will have some vital information on them, but not too much. A strong visual component, the aforementioned punchline, who when where and the website.

Sticker Die For 9

Click to see in full size

A potential problem to bootstrap? To make sure there are enough people talking about the hashtag, so that the first ‘tweeters’ are not alone. Will let my already existing fans know and they will take care of that. Social proof is important to get things going. Will tell you hater how it can be overcome quite easily.

Also, the success of this attempt will rely on the locations we’ll place the stickers. I decided to plan a route in London you can follow on foot and will hide most of the stickers along that way. Then will create a Google map on the website for people to see what that route is.

2. 500 postcards

They will carry the following message in the front side:


On the back you can see a normal postcard, with the instructions being quite clear:

Bloody hell! You’ve just found one of the 500 postcards scattered around London. Good for you! Here’s your mission: buy a stamp and post this card. Don’t forget to write your email address on the left side (capital and clear letters, ok?). Then magic will happen. You will receive an email by us with the place and time we’ll meet, so we’ll give you a free ticket for the show and buy you coffee. Sounds good? It’s awesome!

I’ll place these postcards in 20 specific cool places/cafes/shops/clubs. They will attract attention, people will be intrigued by the concept, some of them will actually post them and will meet me in person. Each postcard will have my home address on it and the place where it was found, so I know which places converted better.

Why all this?

  • It’s creative. It will make people talk about it, even if they’ve just encountered it.
  • They don’t need to look for social proof to make sure it’s ‘hot’ – it’s cool by itself.
  • It filters the kind of people that will respond. It’s not an advertisement (which I’m against), it’s not even inviting people to the show.
  • It’s making them be part of the game to complete the picture and see what this is all about, because it provides some clues, but not the whole picture.
  • It will attract creative, like-minded people not only for the musical part of the show, but for the whole interactive, possibly life-altering experience.
  • It enhances our music brand and trigger all senses.
  • It adds value to the performance.
  • It creates an ‘inner circle’ that can be a very passionate following.
  • It opens the door for huge possibilities: only the ‘insiders’ will know when/where the next show will be. If you hear about it somehow, you’ll have to be part of the insiders yourself to get tickets first. No marketing, just word of mouth. The list is growing with qualified audience.

About the price of the show: I was thinking of making the show free. No entrance to pay. I changed the price to £25 ($38) for 3 reasons:

  1. The audience won’t know the value of the show, since it’s something new. And we should set this expectation ourselves in an early stage. You have a different perception about something that costs £25 compared to something that costs nothing. Free can be inscribed as ‘not so good’ in people’s minds. Don’t wanna fall in that category.
  2. When someone offers you a flyer, you will probably accept it. You check it out and it’s a free concert. You might go, you have nothing to lose. You might also NOT go, you have nothing to lose! This is a two-sided sharp knife. That doesn’t guarantee attendance. In conjunction with the fact that a flyer is a disruptive medium, this explains why the conversion is so low. But a promo code for a free ticket on a 25-pound show? Hell yeah. Plus I can bring a friend? OMG. And I put some effort to get it? That’s a lot of value. I’ll tell me friends as well.
  3. If I had started with a free show, it would have been harder to switch to paid shows later on. Now a few people will pay, most will come for free because of the promo codes. But they will be less likely to object to pay later on, because they will not expect to be lucky enough and get promo codes all the time.


That’s it with the offline. Two simple things. People will see them for sure, we just need to see the conversion.

II. Online

My goal with the online promotion is merely to create buzz around the show with indirect ways, not necessarily advertise it. Since it’s an underground performance, I’ve found a few ways to bring traffic to the website and get the online activities going. And – who knows? – something good might come out of it. In other words, online promotion will not be targeted and will be an act of support to the regional offline promotion.

In brief, the online promotion will focus on:

Online Campaign

1. Major press

Let me disclaim it: this is not my priority. I’d like to have some major press on board, so they can get a taste of the show and write something about it if they like it. If they don’t, oh well… They will hear about it organically further down the road anyways :) My efforts will focus on confidently providing them the chance to discover the performance first. It will be up to them whether they’ll ‘see’ through the signs and come on board.

I could approach it the standard way – sending an email to the person I’d like to come over or just send a huge black envelope that draws attention and put an invitation in it. Then I could target some facebook ads to the ones who work, let’s say, for the Guardian: ‘You work for the Guardian, right? Check this out’. Or something similarly stupid. But this is advertisement. Everybody does it. No matter how creative, you essentially repeat the same message: “I NEED your attention.” This is not how I want it to go.

Instead, I’ll have some third parties talk to them. One, through my personal network. Many people in my circle know people who know people. I’ll see what I can do this way. Two, I’ll do some research and find specific press individuals on Twitter, then I’ll see who they’re engaging with to find ways to connect with them. This sort of clairvoyance I’ve developed might help me connect the dots.

The whole point is: someone else will talk to them about me, not me directly. If not, I will selfishly prefer not to have any major coverage at all. This abides my premiumization principles I outlined in MTT.

2. Publicize the challenge

Facebook post challenge

Yup, a lot of walking to deliver ’em

I like announcing early and publicly what I do. This is my way of committing more to my projects, streamlining my thoughts and getting people excited. I also believe wholeheartedly in the saying ‘the more you share an idea, the more real it becomes.’

Sorta what I do right now. This plan will also be published on my personal website and it’s published, of course, here, in Dotted Music. Playing the same game, I will let people discover what going on, filtering once again the traffic we’ll receive.

The last part of the chain of publicizing this creative project is blogs. I’ve made a list of many local blogs whose target audience is: theatre, lifestyle, creative projects (treasure hunt), local artists, dark music, gothic culture. Bearing in mind that this is the audience I’d preferably like to have on this show, I will contact some of the bloggers and, according to their blogging power, I’ll use respective approach. I’ll let them know about what’s going on, maybe offer them some free tickets for them (or their audience) in exchange for publicity.

3. Manifesto

As I’ve mentioned, this performance will get people under the same umbrella, connecting like-minded individuals. The video manifesto I’ve filmed will serve that purpose during the show. The very same manifesto will also be used in articles and inspirational images for various websites/facebook pages that love content like this. Just another way of using the content related to Die For 9.

There are 2-3 websites with good traffic that will publish my work already. Will also do a PRWeb blast, including the video in the article, something that will increase the views. That video manifesto will also be uploaded on YouTube and will contain an iFrame box that will direct to the ticket page.

Important note: The manifesto is a whole campaign that could evolve as a standalone movement. In emphasizes on being Beautiful (inside-out), challenging your insecurities with passion and claiming your uniqueness. The name of it: “Say It!”

Manifesto screenshot

Screenshot of my manifesto

Part of the manifesto:

Once I heard, ‘there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.’ But, just like an idea doesn’t have value unless you claim it and make it real, the same is true about being unique. You need to claim it. Externalize it. Express it Show it. Say it!

Let’s not fool ourselves, I don’t expect large numbers out of the video, since it’s going to be part of the performance anyways, not a promotional tool. Depending on how hard I will go with the articles on the mindset of the manifesto, the results will be more efficient.

4. Facebook promotion

I wasn’t going to use paid Facebook at all, but in the way I met a cool young man who has lots of experience and even helping companies increase their Facebook influence. That bright individual has conducted a lot of split testing in Facebook advertising. He will help me set up a campaign to promote the event costlessly.

All the traffic will lead to the event page, where people will have the two choices, just like everybody else: buy or hunt. We will use sponsored stories and advertisements targeting specific groups of people in London only.


Lego Zombie Outbreak

Not the worst case scenario

Online promotion will aim to increase the traffic, the word of mouth, the interest about what I do, not only for this specific event. More activities will follow, and I want to have eyeballs on them and to build an army of believers along the way.

In other words, I’m going to challenge my karma and focus on long-term results, not just bring temporary direct traffic. It’s an underground event, there shouldn’t be a backlash between the mentality and the actual practices.

What could come out of it – best case scenario? A few major outlets covering it, interest by music industry guys about the outcome (so they can use it as a live case study) and normal folks supporting for the mindset Die For 9 stands for. Worst case scenario? Nothing, but who cares anyways? The show will probably have enough attendance without the support of the online campaign. All because of (III). Read on.

III. Existing network

This is vital for the success. The people I know personally, my mailing list and the facebook friends and fans will drive the initial word of mouth and provide some great social proof for the ones who decide to join because of the offline/online campaigns.

Network go

Credit: Flickr ‘Debbie Hickey’

1. Friends

There are many friends of mine in London who were looking forward to this performance for a long time. They will be on the guestlist and bring some friends. Might drive some more word of mouth about the sticker/postcard thingie.

But, most importantly, there will be the most enthusiastic part of the audience, as they (almost) know what’s happening from the scope of an insider. They will share what I post and will hit ‘like’ and ‘tweet’ so that the event page doesn’t look uninhabited. Social proof is important, don’t forget.

2. Facebook friends/fans

A weaker part of the social circle are the digital friends who are on my SideSteps facebook page or my personal profile (join me, let’s talk!) and don’t know me personally. Not everyone will see what I write because of the facebook edgerank, but a few of them will join the hunt – tell their friends – spread the word because what I do is amazing and you don’t see it everyday in London.

Plus, I will update my blog every 2-3 days with the progress. Most of my digital friends follow me for my advice and posts, rather than my music (which I keep a secret from the public, while building my marketing brand). These updates will keep them intrigued about the actual show as well.

(Note: I’ve made a special, secret group for the hardcore fans of SideSteps, where I message them directly and they get notified every time I post something. There are around 30 people. Their ‘sharing force’ is good enough to bring a strong initial boost to what I will be publishing)

3. Mailing list

It’s not big (roughly 400 people), and there are not many London folks in it. Nevertheless, whenever I write something, there’s high percentage rate and they follow my Call-To-Action. That’s encouraging. I will mainly focus on keeping them updated (they are my ‘insiders’ anyways) and will ask them to share. A potential success will make them feel good about following the band. I’ll document the whole show anyways, so that they’ll receive that material directly when it’s curated.

4. The participants

The show doesn’t include only music. There is dance, entertainment, a big team behind it and, of course, the theatre itself. They will talk about the show they’re involved in, bringing a few more people in (and I will accommodate them with a complimentary ticket).


In a nutshell, my existing network will help closely with our first steps during the week of the launch. Once the kid starts walking, no push is needed.


  1. The offline effort will bring qualified new audience (my main focus is there), the online promotion will leave a legacy and will prepare the project for bigger things and the existing network will provide the initial boost.
  2. It’s easy replicable by anyone and the cost of the promotion is less than £100 (80 to print the stickers/postcards & 3) I will have to monitor the project personally and make sure all individuals’ entries are answered on time. They will provide the word of mouth and attend the show.
  3. I’ll have a lot of coffee with the postcard hunters. Hopefully :)
  4. Every attendee will join my list, I’ll make sure there is an easy way for everyone to subscribe for the next shows as well.

Open letter (with a question in it)

Should I provide media-for-email in this campaign? And if yes/no, why? I guess, since it’s an experience and not merely a concert, offering a tune to subscribe seems cheap to my eyes. Ideas?


I’m Tommy Darker, the writing alter ego of an imaginative independent musician. I started ‘Think Beyond The Band’ because I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished so far and I like helping other fellow musicians that struggle with the same problems.

I love starting conversations, join me in The Darker Side to talk about the music business. If you share the same mindset, find me on Facebook and Twitter and let’s talk!