The more I listen to music the more I start to dissect it and analyze it, because as much of a creative as I am, I think I am nearly just as analytical. And like a lot of people, I’ve been caught up in the indie folk music scene lately. I recently discovered the formula to creating indie folk music … and it’s kinda similar to the Inbound Marketing formula! If you, like me, use music and movie references to help you remember key pieces of information, read on! First, I’ll lay out the Indie Folk music formula and then I’ll explain how each piece lines up.

The Indie Folk Music Formula

  1. Use Kickstarter to finance the recording of your super hip album. (Be sure to include Oxford commas in your liner notes, because they’re so vintage).
  2. Be sure at least two songs on the album include gang vocals of “Hey!” or “Ho!”
  3. Because your band obviously includes at least one female, be sure your songs employ the “call and response” between a male and female vocal. (think of Johnny and June Cash).
  4. Because you were playing Screamo music less than a decade ago, you’ve traded in your Marshall amplifier and Gibson Les Paul for a banjo, fiddle and bell kit. (A Hammond organ is also acceptable, so long as it is vintage).
  5. Your beard is at least four months long and slightly unkempt.

There you have it! You are now a Successful* Indie Folk band.

So, how on Earth does this make sense or compare to inbound marketing? I’m so glad you asked. Let’s look at this one step at a time.

1. Use Kickstarter = Demand Generation.

Just like an indie folk band has to create a buzz in order to get things done, the first step to the inbound marketing formula is creating a demand. This is different than creating a demand for a product however, this is creating a demand for content. An inbound marketer uses content to drive the audience and earns their permission to move on to the next step. This content can be blog posts, social interactions, videos, white papers, tutorials… the list goes on. One rule, however, is the content must answer a question, increase brand awareness or solve a specific problem. This is what drives the audience into the next step.

2. The “Hey” or “Ho” gang vocal = Lead Capturing

Even the wall-iest of wallflowers can’t help but throw their fist in the air and chant “Hey!” when the situation arises. It’s fun, it’s easy and you don’t have to be a singer to sound good. This is the equivalent to the lead capture phase of inbound marketing. Once you’ve created a demand and pulled your audience closer, it’s time to set up the call to action. This can be done as simply as asking for an email address in exchange for a white paper download. It’s taking the permission one step further. You’re not only asking your audience to be aware of the buzz you’re creating, you’re asking them to agree with it.

3. The Male/Female call-and-response vocal = Lead Nurturing

Okay, if you haven’t heard the Johnny and June Carter Cash cover of “Jackson,” that’s your homework. In it, the two go back and forth singing verses and answering each other in what’s called “call-and-response” vocals. Once your audience has given you the permission to contact them, there’s often a back-and-forth communication that takes place. How much, of course, depends on the product or service you are offering, but it’s important to keep in contact with your prospect and maintain that permission to do so. Throughout this step you’ll most likely be educating, establishing key ideas and comparisons and reminding your prospect of why they gave you permission in the first place. It may take a long time before they enter into the buying process, but the more effort you put in during lead nurturing, the better your business will be positioned in their minds as a solution to their needs.

4. Trading in that old equipment = Conversion

Congratulations! You’ve taken this prospect all the way into the conversion process. You’ve successfully nurtured your users into trading in their big Marshall amps and electric guitars for your more “hip” indie folk music gear. A conversion can be a lot of things. It could be a sale, sure. Honestly, this is the easy part. The prospect is sold and has made up their mind that you are the one for them. However, it’s not time to coast. After this you have to keep them around. After this you have to really dig in and hold on. The next goal is to take them from a client or customer to being an advocate for your brand.

5. The Four month long beard = Retention/Advocacy

Sure, anybody can buy an instrument, but people who are serious about music throw everything in to it, including their physical appearance. Similarly, it can be easy for someone to sign the dotted line and throw money at you, but how do you get them to stick around? How do you get them to talk about you with their buddies? The answer is community. Here is a great 5-step process that talks about how to get your customers excited about your brand after the sale. In short, keeping the client involved, whether through education (teaching them more about your brand) or graduation (empowering them to educate in YOUR community), is the best way to encourage their advocacy. Send them emails, give them the chance to share your brand, your content and your solutions with others. This needs to be done with care and delicacy of course. Don’t push them away with data and annoying emails. Be sure everything you are sending them is helpful. Only you can know what is too much – just be sure not to overdo it.

So, there you have it. I wish I could say “long story short,” but I can’t. That’s how the indie folk music formula relates to the inbound marketing formula. Hopefully, the next time you aren’t sure what to do next, you’ll remember this example and take that next step.

*successful in this case is understood to mean, “ability to feed him/herself at least every other day while sleeping on his/her cousins couch.”