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Monday, June 06, 2005 

The One-Dollar Music Marketing Tool

by Bob Baker

Traditionally they come in yellow. But these days you can find them in orange, green, pink, blue and all the other colors of the rainbow. In school you probably used highlighters to flag important passages in textbooks. Or maybe you use them now to note meaningful paragraphs in your favorite how-to titles.

I'm talking about highlighters. And in case you didn't know it already, you can also put this inexpensive writing instrument to good use in marketing your music. Here are three creative ways to do just that:

1) Highlight important facts on the outside of your mailing package

I once received a press kit on the band Earth Crisis, which was playing an upcoming date in my hometown. On the outside of the mailing envelope, the publicist had handwritten the band's name, the venue name and date of performance in dark ink. Then she highlighted these notes in bright green.

The editors and reviewers who receive packages like this know in an instant what they're about and why they are timely. Especially with regard to media people who already knew of the band, this simple technique helped the group avoid the slush pile.

2) Highlight pertinent dates on your tour schedule

If your band is on tour and promoting a string of dates along the way, you definitely want to notify the media in each city where the group performs. Some publicists craft a separate press release for each city, which if fine. But other bands take a more economical approach: They list every city, venue and date on one sheet, which is inserted into every press kit.

The one-sheet system is fine and dandy, but editors still have to scan over the document in search of the relevance to their specific city. And quite often, these packages are sent to music media in cities not even on the tour schedule - which wastes editors' time searching for a concert date that's not even there.

Which brings us back to a music marketing rule I've hammered home many times in the past: Make it easy for media people to give you free exposure. The harder you make them work, the less recognition you'll get.

The easy solution: Highlight the date and venue that's pertinent to that city. That way, the line will stand out in the overall listing of tour dates. This will take a few more minutes to coordinate when putting together your press kit mailings. But the payoff could be substantial.

3) Highlight standout quotes within your press clippings

Hawaii's Crash the Luau Records recently sent a promo package for the band Tone Deaf Teens. Five of the act's most favorable reviews and write-ups were interestingly arranged on one appealing page.

In addition to that, the most positive and descriptive sentences within each review were highlighted in yellow. It allowed someone reading about the band for the first time to get a quick grasp of what this group was about.

You didn't have to wade through multiple paragraphs and exposition that didn't matter. The highlighted sections forced you to go right to the heart of what Tone Deaf Teens is all about.

Using a colored highlighter to draw attention to the important points you want to get across to the media is a simple but powerful way to stand out.

Why not go out right now and invest a buck or two in your music marketing campaign?

Bob Baker is the author of "Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook," "Unleash the Artist Within" and "Branding Yourself Online." He also publishes TheBuzzFactor.com, a web site and e-zine that have been delivering marketing tips and inspirational messages to music people of all kinds since 1995. Get your FREE subscription to Bob's e-zine by visiting http://TheBuzzFactor.com today.

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