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The Power Of One
By Ricky Fitzpatrick - 06/24/2003 - 03:15 PM EDT

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the business of selling, it’s the immeasurable value of one satisfied customer. LOTS of clients are great to have. As a matter of fact, to stay in the black, you have to have numerous clients. Yet, even though we must cater to the mass of people, a sales profession is critically dependant on the ONE.

Example: In automotive sales, the typical “nut” is twelve cars per month. If you can do that, you’re at least average. Some months more, some less, but overall, twelve. But as the years roll on, a sales professional will build a customer base. And from that base, he or she will pray to the Gods for repeat and referral business. These are the “gravy deals” that everyone in sales drools over. They’re easy, they’re trusting and they’re usually loyal thereafter.

And within THAT group, are the customers with whom we get the chance to develop friendships, carry on conversations and get into their lives. These are the people who will do business with you again. These are the folks who tell their friends about you. These are the seemingly eternally happy customers who stop by the office “just to say hello”.


Because their salesperson made them feel like they mattered to them.

So how do we apply this concept to the music world?

As I’ve said before, as writers, musicians, performers…we’re all basically salespeople, trying to figure out how to market ourselves and/or our product (our music) to prospective clients. Doesn’t sound that sexy or noble…God knows it doesn’t sound like the “true artist” portrait, but if you’re going to make a realistic living in the music world today, you MUST sell to some degree.

I’ll use one specific area of musicdom for my example. Let’s take the mailing list. I won’t get into the unfathomable importance of an artist’s mailing list in this article, but let’s leave it for now at…if you ain’t got one…GET ONE!

In the beginning, God created…no wait a minute. In the beginning, as a performer of my material (there we go), I was obsessed with building my mailing list. If I couldn’t add ten to twenty names per gig, I was grouchy for days until the next show. It didn’t matter WHO they were to me, I just wanted their names on my list!

Now jump six months down the road. Three hundred names, plus, on the list. I’m emailing everyone before each gig…twice! Once a week before and once again the night before. And much to my surprise and disbelief, no one was showing up!

This is the problem…

I had 300 names on my mailing list, and not a friend or a connection in the bunch. I had a shit pot of “fans”, but not a REAL fanatic in the whole group.

It hit me that I was a total idiot, that I had spent years selling other products, learning the “way to do it”, and I was completely ignoring everything I’d learned, because “it was music”.


The very next gig, I made a point to meet and get to know at least ONE PERSON at the show. Talk to them. Buy them a drink. Ask them their opinion on the set. Ask for their input. Give them a CD…autographed. Oh yeah, and ask them to sign up for the mailing list.

Immediately, I noticed a difference in, what shall we call it…repeat business. Three shows after that “turning point”, that first lady appears at a gig. She came up to me and said she came with some friends to see the show.

Oh my God! Repeat AND referral business. I talked with them after the show for about ten minutes, gave the friends CDs, got to know them, oh yeah…and asked them to sign up for the mailing list. They did.

And so on and so on, ad nauseum.

Hence the concept of the value of ONE satisfied customer. It’s a pyramid effect, or a ladder or a funnel (no, a funnel would be like a spiral, which represents my checking account balance).

Remember, as we part…even if you think you’re just a mediocre performer or an average writer with a marginal voice…you are the star when you perform…even one song. You MUST set your mind to believe this. Then put yourself in the crowd’s shoes (not literally, of course) and ask yourself what would make the night a night to remember for them.

Great songs? Sure. Great singing? Yeah. Killer performance? Of course. But they can get that at any club up and down the street.

Make a connection with the members of your audience. Get to know someone. Make a friend. Even if you don’t perform a lot. Even if you only do an open mic here and there. Even if you only sing your songs at church once a month. Get yo' butt out in the crowd and say something brilliant…like…”hello”.

Oh yeah, if you want to get to know one another a little better, email me and we'll talk...and have I mentioned my mailing list?

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