Follow Up or Fall Behind

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There is an art and a science to business follow-ups, and it’s a valuable part of a career plan.

Persistent and consistent follow-up is one of the key elements to a successful music career. This holds true whether you are trying to book a gig, land an interview with a local or major paper, get a record deal, or find an agent or a manager. If you simply send out your promotional packets and wait for a response, forget it – you won’t get a call back.

This business is filled with very busy people trying to handle all of the thousands of incoming requests for gigs, reviews, and record and management deals. If you are serious about what you are doing, then nothing could be more important than following up with every contact you make. If you are the one selling your act, you need to be the one making the follow-up calls. You are not the first and last thought on their mind, but they must be the first and last thought on yours, if you want the gig, the interview, or the deal.

Follow-up should be done professionally.
While speaking to a contact the first time, and after promising to send your promotional packet, indicate when you will follow up to check on the packet’s arrival. Make a note to yourself to follow-up with that person and mark the date in your calendar.

If you send something overnight, your first follow-up call should be made the next day, simply to make sure the packet arrived. If possible, try to speak with your original contact in order to get this information. This gives you a second chance to build a relationship with the main contact.

Ask when they intend to review your packet so you can make another appointment to follow-up and get their comments or perhaps begin negotiations. Make the appointment for the third follow-up call for no more than one week into the future, unless they suggest something else. If it is very far off, try to get them to schedule an earlier date. If they are unsure of a time by which they will have reviewed the material, suggest a time approximately within the next week when you will call back to check on their progress. They are alerted to the fact you will be checking back so that when you do call it won’t seem too soon or feel like you are hounding them.

There is an art to follow-up.
You want to keep yourself pleasantly in the forefront of their mind, yet you don’t want to become a pest. This is why it is so important to establish an enjoyable, conversational relationship with your contact from the beginning.

If you are able to build a rapport, as each subsequent follow-up call is made, your contact will look forward to speaking with you and perhaps even move the process along more rapidly. Always ask when you should check back, always aiming for an upcoming date in the very near future. Since these dates are at your contact’s suggestion, you can always open your next conversation with, “You suggested that I call you today to discuss…” With this kind of opening, you will never seem to be a pest.

Why is follow-up so important?
If you don’t follow-up on promotional packets that you mailed or emailed, you are wasting lots of money and the time it took to prepare your package. Promoters, reviewers, editors, agents, and labels all receive many thousands of packets each week. They get piled in corners of back rooms and often remain unopened. If you’ve emailed your EPK, they can be deleted or lost in the spam folder.

You need to check on your material’s arrival and subsequently its status, if you want your packet to move to the top of the pile and get reviewed. Your follow-up can make that happen. I have heard such sad stories of artists who sent packets to labels or venues or agents and they haven’t heard back from them. When I ask, “How long ago did you send your packet?” They reply, “Oh, it must be three or four months now.” When I ask them if they had called to follow-up, they hadn’t.

I remind them that theirs was not the only packet sent to their contact during these last four months and they should send another and then call a few days later. Their original packet has probably been lost in a black hole, deleted from the In box, or at least it is buried at the bottom of one of the many piles of promotional packets sent more recently.

Keep Your Contact Lists Short
Keep your initial lists of bookers, media, or other industry professionals short. Face it, there is no way you or anyone else can do adequate follow up on a 400-piece mailing or emailing, let alone a 4,000 piece mailing or emailing, and get the results you are looking for.

Do your research first, then target 5-10 prospective venue bookers, media, or industry professionals to send your materials to. Then track your submissions and set strategic follow up calls or emails for these few contacts. You’ll feel like you are accomplishing something rather than being overwhelmed by the enormity of the task of trying to follow-up on huge numbers.

Follow-Up on Stated Goals
Always send a cover letter with your materials even when you send an email with a link to an EPK or a website. State the reason for sending your packet or email and what your intended goals are: are you looking to have them review your packet for a potential gig, a CD review, or inclusion on their agency roster or label?

So often, emails are sent simply asking the person to check out our band and a link is provided. The recipient is left to wonder, “Why do I need to check out your band?” “What exactly do you want the outcome to be once I’ve checked it out?” Make sure you are specific and give the person some reason to go further with this invitation. Let them know you know something about the venue, agency, and label. Let them know that you’ve done your research and they are not just another email from a database list.

Your follow-up calls will be much more effective in achieving results when your goals are stated clearly.

Food for thought.
When was the last time you made an initial contact and then neglected to follow-up? What is stopping you from maintaining the connection? What is hampering you from completing the process? When you uncover the answer to these questions and really address the problem, you may be able to find new enthusiasm for the follow-up process and add to your success. Keep in touch with your contacts, and you will develop richer, more professional business relationships that will last throughout your career.

These strategies are just some of the useful career boosts offered by Jeri Goldstein. Go to www.performingbiz.com to learn more about this and other topics important to your career development and sign up for your free weekly audio Biz Booster Hot Tip! Every Monday you’ll get a valuable strategy and technique that you can put to use immediately. You’ll find helpful books, career development seminars and information on booking tours, the music business and performing arts.

Jeri Goldstein is the author of How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring 2nd Edition UPDATED. An agent and artist’s manager for 20 years, Jeri currently consults with artists, agents, and managers through her Manager-In-A-Box consultation program and presents The Performing Biz, online tele-seminars, and live workshops at conferences, and universities, for individuals, arts councils, and organizations. Email Jeri at jg@performingbiz.com.

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