In this podcast you’ll discover:
- How Adam modelled his strategy on a band he admired.
- A full breakdown of the bands promo material budget including video, audio and photography production costs.
- Adams take on why one person needs to lead the band.
- How he outsourced much of the work needed to get set up.
- What Adam would do if he could start again knowing what he now knows.
- What gig and booking goals he set for himself and how he smashed the target.
- How he managed to build relationships with agents that now send him a stream of leads.
- How Adam approaches local venues and the results he got.
- How Adam deals with his incoming enquiries.
- His step by step referral strategy that gets his current clients to be his sales machine!
Listen to the Podcast:
Brad: Okay. So, I’m here today on the podcast with a very special guest, Adam Levitt who is the drummer and bandleader of “All Covered Up.” cover band. So, here he is. Adam, how are you?
Adam: Yeah. I’m well. Thank you. I’m well.
Brad: Good. We’ll let you come to the end of a working day, so thank you for giving me your time at the end of the line. What do you do daytime wise? Tell us a little bit about where you’re at now and how you got to the point you are with the band.
Adam: Well, I’m currently at … My fulltime job is in furniture. So I like to sell furniture and I enjoy it and that’s in the week. That’s my nine-to-five. And then, evenings, I work on the band, not every evening, but I try to … been getting a couple of hours in where I can.
Brad: Where did you start performing? Give us a little bit of background for you.
Adam: We started performing last year about March time, March, April time. So it took me a while to get all the marketing together. That took that process, from getting marketing together to actually getting our first gigs. The weddings took about four to six months.
Brad: Full disclosure here—that I was mentoring Adam for a good few months. When was that, Adam? Right at the beginning of 2014, wasn’t it?
Adam: That’s right. I was getting the website together. The other thing, I had one or two gigs at pubs and clubs, but nothing too exciting, and so I was pretty much starting from scratch.
Brad: Tell us a little bit, what were the steps that you took to go through that transition?
Adam: I looked on Google and I saw what everyone else was doing, or I thought my competition were doing. And for instance, everyone had a video, and I didn’t have one. Everyone had quality recordings. I didn’t have any. Everyone had quality photos. I didn’t have any.
So, it was a case of I knew I had to get to a certain point with my marketing and put some kind of website together before we could really promote ourselves to the agencies or to anyone. So I literally started from scratch from meeting the musicians in the band.
Brad: So, you didn’t have … Even when you started at the beginning of 2014 pretty much, you didn’t even have a band around, do you? Is that right?
Adam: Well, we’re rehearsing, so that, again, that took a few months to get a good set list together that we were happy with. And so it was a case of rehearsing. In early 2014, it was a lot of rehearsing and a lot of me on the side putting a website together and obviously doing the video recordings, the audio recordings, and the photo shoots.
Brad: Right. Talk us thought that. How did you go about getting a lot done? Where did you go? What did you do?
Adam: Well, I found a couple of them, nice places in London, particularly for the … Am I allowed to mention names?
Brad: Of course, you can. It’s not the BBC. Yeah.
Adam: I found a nice little place. They’re offing a discount for new bands whether that BNB bands, rock bands, cover bands like us. They were doing a discount rate, the resident studios in Willesden, North London. I highly recommend them. And so we did a two-day recording. And I found the band online called The White Keys. And I thought that’s what I want to be eventually. The White Keys, they are fantastic. They are one of the top bands in the UK.
I phoned the guy up. I phone the manager up. I said, “Where did you record? I hope you don’t mind me asking, but where did you record your footage, video footage and tracks?” And he said, “The studio.” So we went there, and I got the same producer as them to do our recordings over the weekend. And then, from there, a couple of weeks later, we recorded the video at the same place. That was it.
Brad: Can I ask you what that cost you?
Adam: Yeah. For two full days … as an eight-piece band, we needed two full days. It was a thousand pounds, just over a thousand pounds. And the video was about 300. Again, I got some kind of discount rate, which was good, and allowed us to put six tracks down to record those every weekend, and also to mine a video over those tracks a couple of weeks later, so all in all, about 1,300 pounds. Yeah.
Brad: Okay. And you were funding all of that yourself, were you?
Adam: Yeah. I fund it all myself. I had a job, so that helped, and as well as the photos as well.
Brad: So where did you get the photos?
Adam: The photos are done at our rehearsal studio. It’s a bit of a dingy old studio in Camden, but it’s got atmosphere. It’s called Scar Studio. And so we decided to do it there, and it’s almost like attic film, which we thought was quite cool. I must have paid about 150 pounds for the photos.
Brad: Okay. So you were all in for about 1,500 pounds, weren’t you, by the end of it?
Brad: And that got you up and running with all your promo materials which … Were you happy with the way that turned out in the end?
Adam: Yeah. I mean, and the photos could have been better The other thing I would have done differently is actually organize people to be in the video, so dancing or whatever. So it’s a video of us, the band, but there’s no one there dancing to us, which would have helped. But in later months, I did another couple of videos at some of our… at one of our gigs.
Brad: Right. And I remember early on as well, you were kind of having to do a lot of juggling with the musicians in the band, because you pretty much operate as a band leader, and then you contract your band members in around you, don’t you?
Brad: As opposed to you being all one gang that kind of started this band up together.
Adam: Yeah. Well, I’ve had my disagreements over the last year and a half. But you know, everyone sees me as the … I mean, I’m doing all the work, and I just feel that’s the best. You need one person leading it, in my view, because you can say … I do get people jobs to do in terms of songs, learning songs. I ask for their ideas. But in terms of actually, from one part, all the marketing really came from me.
Brad: Right. So, everybody very much knows … so the jobs that you are dishing out are pretty much ones which are just music-based. You are doing all the marketing yourself, are you?
Adam: Yeah. I’m running the website, all the bookings, and liaising with the clients up until the day … and on the day, as well, itself. I mean, I’d be silly not to use the musicians in the band, because they are actually far talented than I. I’m a good drummer, but they are fantastic musicians. I’d be mad not to use their talent and their ideas.
Brad: Yes, of course. Absolutely. Okay. Cool. All right, so you got the band up and running, and you’re now doing your marketing. What are you doing? What’s your first thing … that you said about getting a website?
Adam: Well, as I said, getting that website up and running. And that was important and getting all our promo material to the agency. So it was the agencies that I thought that were the most obvious starting point for me.
Brad: Can I just jump back to the website there? What did you do … Because you’ve already spend 1,500 pounds now, haven’t you, with all your promo material?
Brad: How did you approach the website?
Adam: It cost me a lot of money, actually, from getting the … And I’m still changing things all the time on it. You have to get a certain … oh, remind me what the name is. I can’t think of it. A theme.
Brad: A theme, right. So what did you do? You decided to go the WordPress route. You had a WordPress website and you got a theme, did you?
Adam: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes. So I outsourced a bit of the website design. And we decided to go for a particular theme. But since then, I’ve changed the theme once already. That kind of happens because you see other things out there. You think, “Oh, that will look good.” I’m in the process of something that again now.
Brad: So if you had to do that again, what would you do differently? How would you do it better, do you think?
Adam: I’ll definitely research themes a bit more, because I mean there’s … They look good on the surface, but there’s different kind of technicalities to it, one of the things being whether it’s responsive or not. So I’m not the most technical person in the world. And you need to have it responsive as in it needs to show up on a mobile, correct?
Brad: And so that I was very naïve going to that. And to be honest, with the technical side of things, I’m pretty naïve with that kind of thing. And so, I’m now … At the moment, I’m working with someone who’s helping with that. So yeah, I’d definitely research the themes more.
Brad: Okay. So, then you got your website. You set yourself some goals, didn’t you, initially?
Adam: I did.
Brad: Do you remember what … Because I remember we had a few discussions about that, didn’t we?
Brad: Do you remember what they were?
Adam: Yeah. I think it was like to get, I think it was 20 bookings, and then we started to …
Brad: You started with zero, didn’t you?
Adam: Well, I started with zero where I wanted to position this as a quality wedding band, a different band. So no, I had nothing when I discovered yourself. So we were playing in pubs, O’Neill’s, in Clapham, and then another pub in Camden, another few pubs in Camden. So yeah, I agree it was pretty scratch.
Brad: And how did you feel that the fact that you had the goal in place? How do you feel as though that helped you?
Adam: Well, it always does. It puts you on a platform, and it gives you direction as well. So, like anything in life, if you’re writing something down and you have a plan to work towards, it’s easier to not get stressed, because if you’re doing too many things, that can confuse things. If you just got one part to follow, it’s easier in the head, kind of thing.
Brad: Right. Absolutely. I totally agree. So, you had these 20 goal, these 20 bookings that you wanted to get over. What period of time was it?
Adam: Well, I think it was where we first started talking. So I think it was from about March time until the end of the year, so between March and December 2014, to have 20 bookings in the diaries, so whether that be for the following year or not, but just 20 solid bookings.
Brad: How interesting. How did you get there again?
Adam: Oh, I think we end up with 23.
Brad: Right. So you hit three more than your goal.
Adam: Yeah. So we smashed our goal, which was pleasing. I mean it was incredible what we actually did between March and December of 2014.
Brad: Well, go on. Tell us, what do you think were the two or three kind of key things that you did that helped you achieve that goal?
Adam: Well, the first one being we got ourselves into the Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster Bridge.
Brad: Right. Westminster Bridge is … Park Plaza is a hotel, a very nice hotel, in Central London, right?
Adam: Yes. And it’s the Primo Bar upstairs. And then, so I walked in there … I must have walked in there on Saturday morning and got to speak with the artistic manager there at the bar. And after a little bit of persuasion, he said, “We’d love to have you playing in the bar.”
And that allowed people to come and see us, so that was helpful. And even it was just friends that night, we played there every couple of weeks, so that was really good. And they didn’t pay us as much as we’d like, but again, it was exposure. And then we could put that on the website and it looked good. So that was pleasing.
Brad: Okay. So now you’ve got that and you can drive … you can get potential clients, prospective clients down to see you. How were you actually bringing … generating the leads then? How are you bringing in the inquiries?
Adam: Well, agencies was the main source. And to be honest, we’re only … Where are we? We’re in June now. We still rely fairly heavily on agencies. You know, I’d still say they’re about 50%, 60% of our bookings.
Brad: Right. And when you say you got the agencies, tell us what you did. Because I know this is a big pain point for a lot of our listeners, is that they are finding that the agencies can often not be responsive, or when they are responsive, they are responsive once, and then they never hear from them again. How were you able to build those relationships?
Adam: I would say it’s numbers game, because some agencies, they have a lot of bands on there. They order. We are just … Well, at that time, we were just another party band to them. So some would say, actually, like they said, “Yeah. We’ve got a lot of bands like you, so no, thank you. Thanks, but no thanks.” But then, no, another couple of agencies gave us a chance, so that was good. So at the moment, we rely on about two to three agencies who pull us in several gigs.
Brad: I think you’re kind of being a bit modest there, aren’t you? Because you did work. You spent time to develop particular relationships, didn’t you.
Adam: I did. I mean, it is …
Brad: And you weren’t tired of that.
Adam: Yeah. I expected not every agency to suddenly say, “Yes. Join us.” But, no, with the ones that were interested, I did. I’ve met a couple in London. They’re London-based agencies, and just met them for a drink, and put a face to a name, which helps, yeah, just try to create that relationship. They could see my enthusiasm. But I found that you can be as loyal as you like to some agencies. But again, they got to have their leads for you as well, and they are still trying to make their money as well.
Generally, I have a good relationship with the agencies.
Brad: I mean I think what was always interesting about you is when we initially discussed the different kind of strategies that you could take to generate leads, in many respects for you, I think it felt like kind of pushing a square peg in a round hole for some of them, wasn’t it? It was like things like pay-per-click advertising, SEO, they didn’t really kind of sit well with you and your personality. And I think when you found the opportunity to go and maybe network with agents, and also in-house venues …
Brad: … you’ve had success with. That was kind of like … That was your flow, really, wasn’t it? Would I be right in saying that?
Adam: Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. That comes naturally to me. There is, for example, the PPC marketing online, that’s not so … That’s quite technical. It’s not really my thing, cup of tea. Even saying that, I’m heavily involved in the SEO at the moment and working with some who is helping me with that. So I’m outsourcing that, because I still believe that … I do want to benefit from SEO. I left the Adwords to the side for the minute. That’s not to say I won’t pick that for the future, but then … Yeah. SEO, I’m still trying to make that work.
Brad: Okay. And tell us how did you get in … Because again, you’ve got in with the number of different venues in London, haven’t you?
Adam: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Brad: How did you do that? Because I think the way that you did that applies to anybody that is trying to get referrals from venues all around the world. Talk us through how …
Brad: … your strategy then.
Adam: For the Park Plaza, you mean?
Brad: Well, not necessarily for the Park Plaza. You gone in, haven’t you, and gone and had a conversation with some venue coordinators in like some of the London Hotels and stuff.
Adam: Yeah. As I said, it’s that kind of putting a face to a name. I highly recommend either phoning or actually going in there if you can. London is quite good because there’s lots of hotels in one small area.
Brad: So what did you do? Did you pick some … a group of like 20 hotels on the list and then just start calling the venue coordinators or …
Brad: What did you do?
Adam: Well, I went in there on weekend and asked a bit to see the manager. In the Park Plaza, in that case, it worked. Other cases, it didn’t. There’s a famous … the Dover Street Café, opposite of the Ritz. And I went in there, and I never heard back from them. I tried and tried, but I just didn’t hear back. With the Park Plaza, one was better than nothing, as I said it loud. On a Saturday night, people come down and see us and book us from there. So, I didn’t need two or three. I just needed one. So the Park Plaza gave us a chance, and then we ended up playing there and it is full for their guests.
Brad: Right. Very good. Excellent. Let’s just go back to … Now, you’ve got some leads coming in from perspective brides, grooms, and agents, corporate event planners. What is the process that, because you are quite meticulous about that, aren’t you? You are quite meticulous about the process that goes on from the point that inquiry comes in. So tell us what the process is.
Adam: In terms of a direct inquiry to the web …?
Adam: Yes. That’s where I like those inquiries, because I have the control, at some point. With agencies there’s lots of tuning and throwing with the emails, and they are sorting out. But I like to obviously be in control. Plus, you can make more money with the direct bookings, so you don’t have to pay their fee, the agency fee.
So I’ll give them a call if I get an inquiry through the website and just obviously thank them for inquiring about us, about the band. And all I do is then ask questions and trying to get as much information about as possible in order to kind of get a picture of what they’re after, but also so they can see that we would hopefully be a good fit for them.
So I would ask, for example, “So what lineup are you looking at? Are you looking for some brass?” And from there, they might say, Yes, I’m looking for the six-piece.” I said, “Okay, we can do that.” And then, I just ask questions. That’s what I found to work.
Brad: Right. Okay. So you’ve asked some of those questions now. Then, what are you doing? Are you sending … You’re just giving them the quote over the phone, or are you sending an email? What do you?
Adam: I used to send the email … Sorry, the quote, via email. And that would be the most obvious thing to do. However, actually, I was reading some of your quotes at point. I’m still doing it today. This day, it’s sending the quote out in the post in a gold envelope, and address the said to the couple.
It really makes you stand out by sending a quote in the post, because who does that? Not many people. It’s actually going on a first class stamp on a golden envelope. It’s an easy thing to do to just email it. I found that I have a much better return rate, booking rate, by sending out quotes in the post.
Brad: Right. Okay. So you send the quote out in the post, then, what? Are you following that up or are they giving you a call?
Adam: I’m following up. I’ve got a spreadsheet, an Excel spreadsheet, with like a quote log. So I’ve got name, date of event, wedding, company event, whatever it might be, and then, a manual CRM system. So I’ll type in the details. When I call them on the first of June, for example, and then I’ll put the call back on the 14th of June just to keep the regular contact going.
Brad: Right. Okay. So CRM, meaning customer relationship management. Since you’re logging all the leads that are coming, you’re following them up, and then you’re putting a note in to follow them for a later day where you’ve got all the details of your previous correspondence, right?
Adam: Yeah. I found the Excel spreadsheets to work wonders, you know, just every contact, every one unique. I would devise just sticking into spreadsheet whether that’s venue managers, other wedding suppliers, and just see for everyone there as well as all full bookings. So yeah, I try to be as organized as possible, which has helped.
Brad: Fantastic. That’s great. What else … I mean is there anything else that you feel as though … has really helped achieve the goal from last year? I should say, are you on course to achieving your goals for this year?
Adam: Yeah. I mean my goal for this year was to bring in … I wanted 30 for you and we went on course to achieve that. We’re now in June and we’ve already done 20 weddings and a couple of corporate events. So yeah, maybe I need to set my goals slightly higher, but as I said, it’s definitely good to set your goals, because it makes you feel good as well. It makes you feel like you’ve achieved something. Otherwise, what are you working towards?
Brad: Yeah, absolutely. You’re absolutely right to be setting those. I think it’s a real kind of drive. I think the great thing about goals is if it’s a realistic goal, it almost kind of pulls you towards it, doesn’t it, as opposed to feeling like your drudging along, not really making much progress?
Adam: That’s right.
Brad: That’s great. Sorry, I asked three questions there at once. What was the … anything else that you feel as though has made a difference for you?
Adam: Yeah. I mean, actually, I ask for referrals now. So eventually, one day, my dream, if you like, is to actually get my bookings through referrals and not have to market. I think that’s everybody’s goal, is not to have to put much money into marketing and have a system whereby people are recommending you, the band.
Brad: So what is the system? Because you got one.
Adam: Yes. It’s a bit like the follow up. I think the post is so important, because it’s such an old-fashioned and underused thing, because no one really sends posts to people anymore. So I follow up now, my clients, with a thank you letter. After the gig, on the Monday, I’ll put a little letter together or template. I have them on my computer.
Again, Peter and Pattie, whoever the couple’s names are, “Thank you so much for having us on Saturday night. Really enjoyed it. We loved performing for you and your guests.” And then, I’ll put a bit more … What else do I put in that letter? I can’t remember. But I’ll send it out in the post, and then I’ll follow up with a phone call later and just say, “Oh, did you receive the thank you letter? I just wanted to follow up on you to say thank you.”
They’re like, “Yeah. We received it. Thanks so much. We didn’t think you would,” or something like that. Then, I ask, “Who else do you know? Do you have any other friends at work getting married?”
Brad: Right. Okay. So you send them the letter, the thank you … Then, you follow up to check if they’ve received it. Then, you’re actually outright asking for their referral, right?
Adam: That’s right. Well, yeah, you’ve got to.
Brad: Good. Yeah. I’d agree entirely.
Adam: You’ve got to be specific because a lot … most people, nine times out of 10, what I found is that they’ll say, “Oh, okay. Sure.” You say, “Do you know anyone else who’s getting married who might require our services, who might like the band?” They’ll go, “Oh, yeah. I know lots of people. I’ll come back to you.”
They never do. I kind of be very specific, so I try and find out if they are members of a golf club, for example, and if they play golf with three of the same people every week or every weekend. I’ll say, right, I don’t know if there’s people playing golf. Could you ask those three people if they know anyone getting married. You’re much more likely, I think, to get referrals from that rather than …
Brad: Just being broad and let … Yeah, you’re almost kind of narrowing their frame of reference, aren’t you?
Adam: Yeah, it’s important. So I just try and find out what their hobbies are. I just thought, “What do you do on the weekend? Is it tennis?” or whatever it might be. Because most people … everyone can say, “Well, yeah. I know loads of people. Yeah, sure. I’ll get back to with friends who are getting married.”
Then, you get forgotten about. But then, if you give them something specific to focus on, then they will end up doing that. Nine times out of 10, next time they play golf with those three people, they’ll go, “Do you know anyone?”
Brad: Absolutely. I think you’ve got that bang on because they need to know … you need to really narrow that frame of reference down so that when they do see those people that you’ve mentioned, they’re actually thinking about you and your band.
Adam: Exactly. Even if it’s one or two leads that come from that, that’s one or two I didn’t have. So that’s better than nothing, in my view. Yeah, I really am keen … I’ve got a good book. Am I allowed to mention the book?
Brad: We’re not the BBC, I told you. Just mention the book.
Adam: Okay. I want to know what’s legal and what’s not.
Brad: There’s plenty of things that aren’t legal. But telling what the books is called, I think we’re going to be all right with. Go on. Yeah.
Adam: It’s a book I found. Anyone in sales or trying to promote their business. It’s called “Endless Referrals,” and it’s by a chap called Robert Burg. And it’s spelled B-U-R-G. Bob Burg. I’m actually holding it up now, in front of you.
Brad: Right. Well, that’s useful because no one can see it. Don’t worry. I’ll put it on the website, on the show. It’s on the website. I’ll put a link to Amazon to that one for you. Yeah.
Brad: So you got the strategies from that. Basically, I think the bottom line there, really, is to me, the real power in referrals is, firstly, asking for them. Most people don’t ask for them. They think they’re going to happen, but the really of it is they don’t just happen.
They may happen occasionally, but the bottom line is you have to ask for them, and then with the way you ask them, in terms of narrowing down their frame of reference and the way that you’ve brilliantly done is the real key to making it actually work, I think.
Adam: I agree. I mean what this guy is saying in the book, he’s saying, “People are just getting on with their lives.” It’s quite a pessimistic way of looking at it. He says, “Everyone is selfish.” So they’re just getting on with their lives. They’re not interested in you.
You know, we’re the band. We played at their wedding. To be honest, if they never hear from me again, they don’t care. They’re getting married. They’re having babies now.
Brad: I was going to say that their next thought is all about babies at that point.
Adam: Exactly. Yeah, but it did work. I phoned up one of our previous clients, and within two days, he actually said, “Oh, yes. My friend’s getting married.” I booked that … That friend booked.
Brad: Perfect. I mean another thing that we used to do, which works very well, is send them a first anniversary congratulations card.
Brad: Then, you’ve got a whole … because they’re still … you know, their peer group is still getting married, you know so … Yeah, very good. Listen, Adam, we’re coming up to time. Thank you so much. There’s some real actionable gems in there. Thanks for being so open and generous with that info.
Hopefully, the listeners can go off and actually use some of that. I mean there’s good two, three or four things in there that you can use tomorrow. They’re not going to cost you any money, are they, which is brilliant. Listen, good luck with everything.
Adam: Thank you.
Brad: Where can … If anybody wants to go and check out the website, where can they go?
Adam: Yeah. Well, if you visit www.AllCoveredUpMusic.co.uk, check us out. We’ve got all the videos on there.
Brad: And if anybody wants to get in touch with you, where can they go?
Adam: Sure. Well, you can email my … email me at … Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brad: Great. And there’s also a contact form, obviously, on the website as well.
Brad: Okay. Adam, thanks so much. I’ll let you enjoy your evening after a long day. Thanks for your time. Yeah, hopefully, we’ll catch up again in the next 18 months or so, see how you’ve doubled that goal in the time, I’m sure.
Adam: I sure hope so.
Brad: All right. Take care.
Adam: Thanks, Brad. Bye.