Pro Tools HD, blah blah blah…
Blah blah blah, Lexicon…
Chandler, Crane Song, Urei, SSL, GML, Apogee…. Blah blah blah…
All this gear is great, and may have cost you a small fortune. And it probably helps you create a better record. But how is that GML equalizer going to help your clients sell more records or downloads than an ART EQ? Artists don’t care if you use a million bucks worth of gear on their record, they need you to help them SOUND like a million bucks.
And yet, many studios market their studio by simply listing their gear on their web site or showing off their gear on a studio visit. They hope and pray that it will create such a magnificent impression on their potential client that they simply cannot resist recording at their studio.
Why does listing your gear make your studio invisible?
Unfortunately, nobody geeks out about studio gear as much as studio owners and engineers do. Sure, it may create a nice vibe for your client, picturing himself sitting amongst a humming sea of red hot tube preamps. But in the end, they need an incredible recording of their music. As the saying goes, nobody wants a drill, they need a hole.
If all the other studios are marketing themselves by listing all their good gear, then nobody stands out. All studios have lots of gear. Clients anticipate it. If a client walked into your studio and there wasn’t any gear, there would be questions. So of course you need your gear to make a good record (and avoid all those questions). But by using your gear list as a substitute for good marketing gets you lost in the sea of all the other recording studios in your area, and in essence makes your studio invisible. Given no other reason to record in one studio or another, the client is forced to decide based on one thing: price. Blah!
Where are you wearing your cloak of invisibility?
Every time someone interacts with your studio brand, whether physically through business cards, print and studio visits, or virtually through the Internet, you are creating an impression. These impressions can be strong or weak, and are very important at the very beginning when you have no relationship with your potential client. They make the difference between taking a second look at your recording studio and not giving you the time of day.
Take a look at mostly all aspect of how you present your studio. Do you look like everyone else?
Here’s a test. If you advertise, find several ads of other local studios and substitute their studio name and address with yours. Does it make any difference? If not, then you are not creating a very strong impression. But the good news is that they aren’t creating a strong impression either, and it will be easier for you to stand out!
What causes invisibility in recording studio marketing?
The cause is rampant in almost mostly all industry, not only the recording studio industry. When a new business is started, the owner may be really busy or not know much about marketing or advertising. So she takes a shortcut and looks to notice who else is advertising in her industry. She studies her competitor’s ads, flyers and web site. Then she creates ads, flyers and a web site based on what everyone else is doing. But now, her marketing and advertising looks very similar to her competition’s marketing and advertising. With this “copy cat” marketing, she now looks similar to the competition and blends in, becoming invisible.
How to make your studio stand out and become visible again
What makes you different isn’t really the layout of your studio or the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gear. All that stuff can be purchased or copied. And in the hands of hacks, the best sounding rooms and all the gear in the world won’t make a bit of difference.
The secret of standing out is leveraging something that cannot be bought: you, your staff and your philosophy.
Unfortunately, there is no way to implant who and what you are into a prospective client’s brain, so you will have to create an simple bite-sized message that you can easily communicate to your clients.
Creating your message
Creating your message can be one of the most difficult exercises in your business. We are so used to bland, run of the mill marketing messages, we are almost unable to break the mold and create a fresh message for ourselves.
We need to get clear on who we are, who our fantastic client is and how we need to serve that client.
The best way to start is by asking questions.
What do we stand for? Are we advocates for saving the environment? World peace? Or sticking to less political things like is our recording studio old school analog or 21st century digital?
What are we really good at? Do we love creating beats for rap artists? Are we master musicians or producers? Do we have a knack for producing ultra slick vocal harmonies and polished smooth pop songs?
Who are our idea clients? Do we need to work with jam bands? Jazz artists? Singer-songwriters?
How do we need to serve our clients? Are we a bare-bones boot strap studio, or do we need to have runners and interns on hand to meet mostly all whim & fancy of our clients (and charge a premium)?
Of course if there is anything super unique about your gear or studio space, and it ties into your message, you should certainly include it in your marketing. For example, if your studio runs on wind power, you would do well to tie that into the message of your unending quest to be first 100% green recording studio in the world. Or, if your studio specializes in recording new age music and you have a studio that overlooks the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, certainly let people know about it.
Are we going to lose business if we focus on such specific things?
Just because you are getting clear on who you are and who your fantastic client is doesn’t mean that you have to limit yourself to recording only those clients. But it gives you a specific type of person to talk to in your marketing and advertising. Prospective clients who fit your fantastic client profile are going to notice that your recording studio fits them to a tee and will choose you over other studios with the wrong or generic messaging.
Also, in many cases, you will have staff with various talents and skills, and you can do this exercise with each staff member to attract fantastic clients for each of them.
Now that you know HOW to halt being invisible…
Include your message in mostly all piece of communication that comes from your studio: your logo design, your tagline, your web site design and content, your bio, your business cards, online and offline advertising, press releases and how you decorate your studio.
Seems like a lot of work…
If you are an established studio that already has a logo, web site, etc. all of this probably sounds a little overwhelming. Once you have spent the time and effort to create your recording studio’s message, the hard work is done. Then, you can start with something small like a single web page or an ad. You don’t have to change absolutely everything overnight, but make changes bit by bit and notice how your marketing attracts more and more avid clients who need exactly what you are selling. Your advertising stands out among the crowd, leaving all those other invisible recording studios in the dust.