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You never know what surprise might await you when you open an e-mail.

As I started reading a message from musician and Buzz Factor patron Steve Wickenton (http://www.wickenton.com) last week, I thought it was just another feel-good, complimentary note. That would have been fine (receiving praise is always welcome), but this e-mail also contained a priceless lesson that needs to be repeated.

"Bob, I want to thank you once again for all of your tips and tricks on self-promoting," Steve wrote. "I released my debut CD last Saturday night and had an amazing response. I averaged one CD sale for every two heads that night. In addition, my web site is doubling in hits every week and my e-zine subscription list is increasing by about 25% every couple of weeks.

"All of this because you have shown me some basic facts about promotion. Most importantly, I now realize that promotion is not about an upcoming gig or a new CD, but about the artist and what he or she stands for. This focused at the appropriate audience equals interest from the right people who you can bond with and form ongoing relationships with. I know it sounds obvious, but I spent many wasted years ignoring this."

Read those words again. Absorb them, understand them and embrace them. The principle that Steve eventually realized is at the heart of what I've been preaching for several years.

Marketing is all about understanding who you are as an artist. It's about being able to communicate who you are, what you do and why you do it to a defined group of music fans. And then nurturing relationships with the people who express an interest in your music and what you stand for.

Another Case for Connecting with Fans

Steve's e-mail came on the heels of a similar message I received recently from author Barbara Brabec (http://www.BarbaraBrabec.com). I first heard about Barbara many years ago when I purchased her book "Homemade Money," the classic "home business bible" that has been through several editions with 122,000 copies in print.

In the spring of 2003, her book will be republished as two new "Homemade Money" guides. I'm flattered that she plans to include an excerpt from my book, "Branding Yourself Online," in one of them.

After I sent Barbara a review copy of "Branding," she wrote, "I love the concept of branding. I learned the importance of it 25 years ago when a great salesman gave me advice as a new author and business owner: 'Don't sell your products,' he said. 'Sell yourself. If people like you, they'll buy anything you write.' He was so right, and I had to laugh the day one of my fans wrote to say he loved my latest book, and would read anything I wrote in the future."

It's so important to grasp that concept. Fans connect not only with the individual product or service you deliver; they also connect with the person who created it. That's why you need to do everything you can to clearly project your identity in all of your marketing materials.

Get permission to follow up with people via e-mail and direct mail. Through your communications, reveal who you are, why you do what you do and what inspires you. Also, thank your fans often and do special things for the people who buy your CDs, attend your shows and subscribe to your e-zine. The more your fans feel a connection with you, the more likely you'll enjoy the recognition and income you deserve.

Go forth, identify yourself and connect with more fans this holiday season!

Friday, December 13, 2002 - Bob

"Reprinted from Bob Baker's The Buzz Factor, featuring free marketing and self-promotion ideas for songwriters, musicians and bands on a budget. Visit www.TheBuzzFactor.com for free details."

Get FREE music marketing ideas by e-mail when you sign up for Bob Baker's weekly newsletter, The Buzz Factor. Just visit www.bob-baker.com for details. Bob is the author of "Guerilla Music Marketing Handbook" and "Branding Yourself Online: How to Use the Internet to Become a Celebrity or Expert in Your Field."