In 2002, our rock band Myopic Son started to get pretty big in West Lafayette, IN. We won a battle-of-the-bands competition at Purdue University, home to about 40,000 students. As a result, we earned a booking at the “Slayter Slammer,” an annual concert to kick off the start of fall semester.
Purdue, being an excellent university for engineering, has an amphitheater on Slayter Hill on campus, and one of the most interesting features is its suspended ceiling. Instead of walls holding up the roof, it’s supported by wires. Each portion of the amphitheater construction, consisting of 21 individual columns and the roof, are all separate from each other, creating wonderful acoustics with no rattling or other noise from the individual components. The natural amphitheater that is Slayter Hill can host 20,000 people. If your band gets to perform at the Slayter Slammer, you’ve joined a fraternity of very, very few bands.
The local rock & roll radio station in Lafayette covers the show each year, and two of us from Myopic Son were interviewed live by the station’s on-air personalities before performing. They liked our sound and began playing a song of ours on the station. After the Slayter Slammer, we returned a few months later to perform a show at an outdoor tiki bar that drew 1,700 people. Things were looking up in West Lafayette!
Feeling good about our “fame” in and around Purdue, and hoping to leverage our success in Indiana, we traveled 63 miles east to Indianapolis, a city more than 10 times the size of West Lafayette. And... had to completely start over.
Back in 2002, geography played an enormous role in how an independent band could get known. Our West Lafayette reputation couldn’t precede our arrival in Indianapolis because... well, in 2002, how could it? Our performances at the amphitheater and tiki bar remained forever trapped in time. We had no smartphones, no YouTube, and no social media. Word of mouth, which was our best form of promotion then, was relegated to those who could be physically close together.
So 63 miles might as well have been 630 miles for our little band. People in Indianapolis had never heard of us and weren’t aware of our notoriety in a city so close to them. Back then, bands that achieved a level of national fame did so through a hit song on radio stations throughout the country, and that exposure occurred after they signed a record deal. The band would then tour in support of that song (and the album on which the song appeared), with radio commercials touting, “Come see ABC band perform their hit song XYZ.”
Fast-forward about 20 years. What’s different now? A fantastic set of technologies we all have available to transcend success you experience locally. No longer do you, or I, or anyone else need to be restricted by geography, nor do we need to be “put on” by a record contract or by a radio station. Distribution of content, which was previously controlled and throttled by those with the power, has now become democratized. If you create something good, you have the ability to use digital and social media to amplify your message to those who may benefit from it. Not in just in your town… everywhere.
Here’s a plan for you, then: Let people know when you do something newsworthy in one place, and they’ll begin to recognize you in another. Put another way, before the next time you attend the NAPA 401(k) Summit in person (hopefully in 2021), use digital and social media to build your reputation online. When people see you in real life, they’ll already know who you are and what you share. Instead of starting a conversation from zero, you’ll start from a point of understanding.
How are you using digital and social media technology to get “famous” with your target audience?
Spencer X Smith is the founder of AmpliPhi Social Media Strategies. He’s a former 401(k) wholesaler, and now teaches financial services professionals how to use social media for business development. This column originally appeared in the Fall issue of NAPA Net the Magazine.