Today it begins with the bleachers full, SRO, an attentive audience, filled with anticipation—those who are willing to give your music a spin, your videos a glance, your books a read, your products a chance, and your website more than a few seconds. It begins with a list of repeat customers—a continuous rendezvous with those who are willing to return for a second helping of whatever it is you’re dishing out. It begins with a group of dedicated fans and followers—those convinced that you’re worthy of their trust and deserving of their money. And it begins with your devotees—those who are willing to forward your art, evangelize about your work, and “YELP” their opinion.
It no longer begins with an antiquated advertising campaign or a Jurassic marketing blitz. Rather, it begins with direct, personal, consistent communication with your fans, customers, friends and followers—through the very process that you resist the most: blogging, tweeting, continuous site upgrades, and all the diverse variety of social networking you can handle on a regular basis. It begins with including your customers in your creative process, consistently sharing your new and most recent art, always teasing them with free samples, always listening (and responding) to their critiques, and repeatedly inviting them into your world. It begins with engaging your followers with your story, your honest, transparent story, then building their trust over time—and then rewarding them for their devotion.
I know that some of you read the same books and follow the same bloggers that I do. However most are resisting the message…actually the warning. Truth is, like it or not, we are currently in the midst of a great revolution, a “connection revolution,” a rendezvous with destiny. And whether you’re a new start-up, a seasoned corp, or a crazy genius artist, if your intention is to make a decent living at doing that which you love, then it all begins with slowly and intelligently filling up the bleachers and building your tribe…right now.