Imagine having an audience of hundreds of different people each workday, ready and waiting for you to impress them with your product and presentation.
Now imagine if you could later meet one-on-one and have a conversation with each of those people. It would a precious opportunity to engage, build relationships, earn loyalty — and yes, sell products.
There’s one organization that’s built a healthy degree of success and loyalty by including precisely that tactic in its marketing strategy. It’s a Southern California pop-punk band called the Dollyrots. You may never have heard of them, and that’s OK. They’ve built a large, loyal and growing base of supporters worldwide by zeroing in on their market, turning bystanders into fans, and turning fans into customers.
After each gig they play, the band members — lead vocalist and bassist Kelly Ogden (pictured above), guitarist Luis Cabezas and drummer James Carman — head out to the lobby to mingle, chat and connect with fans.
Seems like a lot of work, right? Ogden explains it this way: “It’s definitely just something that comes naturally. I really appreciate that people ‘get’ me, and are willing to pay for a show or a T-shirt. I honestly just love meeting people — that’s one of the best parts of being in a band.”
Since their beginnings in 2001, the Dollyrots have released four full-length albums and toured the world. Their music, especially their best-known song, “Because I’m Awesome,” has been featured in film and TV soundtracks and commercials. They’ve developed a visual image that centres on Ogden’s blonde good looks and charisma, and their sound exudes a consistent playfulness with a gritty rock edge.
“When we first started, we just wanted to play. As far as image goes, we were clueless,” Ogden says. “I never expected to be the centre of attention, either.” She thought Cabezas, with his more enigmatic persona and “cool and different” look, would be the focal point.
But, as in many business endeavours, the marketplace had different ideas. And, as in the most successful of those endeavours, the band members responded to “customer feedback” without losing sight of why they started their venture: To do something they were passionate about full-time, and make a living at it.
“It’s important to us that we stay true to ourselves, and avoid trends like the plague.”
Near the beginning, the Dollyrots moved from Florida to the Los Angeles area, where there were more resources and connections to be made. A gutsy business move, and one that would test the commitment of the most passionate entrepreneur. The band began and matured in the age of the Internet, and uses all the marketing tools and metrics the online world offers, from social media to Kickstarter funding.
“I think to be successful now, you need to be involved in your business as well as your music. We’re always checking our numbers… as long as they’re steadily growing we feel like we’re doing well. The number of people on those lists (Facebook, Twitter, newsletter subscribers, website visitors) directly correlates to our online merch sales, record sales and ticket sales.”
For anyone in marketing or management, the Dollyrots’ story is fuel for self-examination. Why are you doing what you do? Are you passionate about it? Are you doing everything you can to connect personally with potential customers? Are you thankful every day that you get to do work you love?
More food for thought: Here’s the Dollyrots’ “mission statement,” inscribed on the vinyl copies of their latest album: “Don’t forget to have fun.” How many businesses actually make this a part of their core workplace policy? Not enough of them, I’ll wager — but those that do so, totally rock.
Read the full transcript of Miles Durrie’s interview with Kelly Ogden