music is a weapon

Ton! Cade Bambara once said that, ‘the goal of the revolutionary artist is to make the revolution irresistible.’

And that makes me think of Lucas Coffey (pictured below).

With whom I just had a super interesting meeting about his project Music is a Weapon.

There were a lot of ideas and lessons that came up which I thought might be useful for you in your work.

One of the main things that Music is a Weapon does is bike powered parties. The target market we explored was working with music festivals

So the music festival would bring them in and they would power one of the music stages through pedaling on bikes hooked up to a generator.

The question is: how does he get these festivals to hire him?

Let’s remember that his bike powered thing is his boat. Meaning it’s what he offers to them to get them from Island A (their problems) to Island B (to the results they want). His bike powered parties is what he’s proposing will help them on their journey.

So, what is the journey these festival owners are on?

Well . . . imagine you run a music festival. You’ve got all the logistics of it, choosing the acts, managing volunteers . . . etc. And then, on top of actually running the festival you’ve got to get people there. You’ve got to market it. Shit.

The only reason a festival organizer is going to care about Lucas’ boat is if it can help them out with their life and help solve their problems. Period.

The implications on Lucas’ marketing are obvious: he needs to show that by bringing in his bike powered parties he can help them make more money, build their email list, get more people to the festival, get more buzz and word of mouth and help them deepen their relationship to their people.

If he can make that case, they’ll hire him. If he can’t, they won’t. It’s just that simple.

Most conscious business rely on their ‘values proposition’ or, as we’ve discussed recently, their bigger why. Basically, the marketing pitch becomes, ‘hire me because it’s the right thing to do’. And only the most hardcore conscious people will do this. 80% of our offering really need to be the ‘value proposition’ where we make the case on the return on investment.  If you can offer both a solid values proposition and a solid value proposition it’s hard to fail.

So, if Lucas goes to them and says, ‘hire me because we’re all about sustainable energy and community engagement and fun!’ he won’t get as far as if he says, ‘Bring us in and we’ll help make more money, build your email list, get more people to your festival, get more buzz and word of mouth and help you deepen your relationship to your people . . . plus! It aligns with your community and green values.’

But it’s not enough to make that kind of a claim. They need to trust that you can deliver on that. He needs to become, ultimately a ‘trusted advisor‘.

Part of building trust come to some basic boat redesign. It’s not enough to understand the goals of your client and what Island B is for them. You need to actively consider how you can get them there. And sometimes that means some going back into your business and reimagining things. Innovating. Making our business better and more useful for the client.

So, Lucas and I got to talking about that . . . We realized that he’s actually in a perfect position to help them achieve their goals.

What he does is so fun and unusual that people will go home and talk about it which brings up the music festival in conversation. And what promoter wouldn’t want their festival being talked about more?

They are excellent at getting people to actually ride the bikes but maybe they could communicate ‘the seven charming tactics we use to get people on the bikes’. That might help the promoter feel more confident it would work. He could also get lots of testimonials from other promoters speaking about how well it worked. So he could do more to maximize what’s already working.

But we realized that there were additional innovations that could be brought in which might just excite the festival organizers.

They could ‘theme’ their bikes by decade. Have a 20’s bike, a 30’s bike, 60’s bike etc. And with each bike they could have some period costume pieces that people could wear while they pose for a sweet photo.

Imagine how this might work . . .

You show up at a festival and set up your gear. It’s a beautiful sunny day and you’re just so happy to be out of the city. You look over the program and list of musicians and DJ’s who’ll be playing and smile. It’s your first time at the festival, so you decide to go for a wander and explore the fair grounds.

You see the usual food vendors, some crafts and clothing vendors but then you see something you’ve never seen before. Ten bikes stationary  bikes. With people riding them. And many of them are wearing funny hats and clothes.

You have to check this out.

As you get closer, the person running that area – whatever it is – charmingly engages you in conversation (even though you tend to be a bit shy). He explains that the bikes are hooked up to a generator and that all these people’s exercise is powering the stage beside them. He invites you to ride.

You’re hesitant but then a lady dressed in flapper hat and gloves hops off the bike and hands you her hat. ‘You have to try it!’ You find yourself sitting on this 1920’s old timey bike, wearing a hat, gloves and other period accoutrements, peddling. And having a lot of fun meeting the people on the bikes on either side of you.

One of the people working there asks if he can take a photo of you. Of course, you say yes. This will make a sweet photo. If it’s good you might make it your new profile photo. After he takes the picture of you (you check it and it’s super great) he gives you a card with the website for this group Music Is A Weapon and also a link to the festival’s facebook page. ‘We’ll be uploading your photo to this page later tonight. And we’re having a contest too. Whoever can get the most people to ‘like’ their photo on facebook wins two free tickets to the festival next year plus some other prizes you can use right away. It’s worth about $300. The details are on the card there.’ You slip the card in your pocket. Nice.

You hop off the bike and encourage a hesitant onlooker to give it a try. They smile. They’re shy like you and happy to meet someone friendly. On your way out, a volunteer asks you if you’d like to be on the email list for the festival. “You’ll get maybe one email a month for the festival fundraisers we do which are always super fun and a great chance to reconnect with people you meet here. You’ll also get advance notice on early bird prices for tickets.” You sign up (you can always unsubscribe if it’s too much later).

A girl standing beside him then charms you into buying $10 in raffle tickets. “They’re for the new stage. We just need $2000 more and we can do it!” How can you say no?

You wave goodbye and walk off with a new friend who was on the 1950’s bike beside you.

In this little story, from your perspective, you’ve made a new friend, done something fun you’ll talk about when you’re home and gotten a sweet new photo.

Imagine this same story from the festival organizers point of view.

You are stressed. But excited. And you’re relaxing quickly as the sun melts the tension out of your body. You’re here. A year of work has paid off. People are arriving. The bands are playing. All the hassles were worth it. But you can’t help mentally tallying people as they arrive. Are you going to make enough money this year? Will you get enough people?

You took a risk and brought in a new thing to your festival – a bike powered stage. It cost you a bit of money but people seem to be loving it and having fun. There seems to be a lot of buzz about it. By the end of the festival, you’re glad you brought them in. It added something fun and different to the festival.

And then you’re approached by the fellow who was running it. You small talk a bit about the festival and then he hands up a clip board and explains that, over the weekend, he’s added 327 people to your email list. He tells you that a lot of photos were taken and that they’re already posted in an album online with links back to your page. ‘You should expect to add a few hundred people to your fan page and to start following you on twitter too.’

You’d forgotten about this. This is amazing. You always forget to ask for people’s emails and you’re basically social media illiterate. Thank god someone’s on top of this.

‘Oh! And your raffle ticket volunteers were amazing. They sold a lot of tickets at our bikes.’

You will definitely be bringing them back next year.

It’s not about the boat.

It’s not about the bikes.

It’s about Island B.

Don’t just talk about your values – add real value. Make people’s lives easier. They’ll thank you with their business.

About Tad

  • Nikki Way

    Tad, great article about a great guy and a great idea! Props to music is a weapon and the amazing and dedicated man behind the project, Mr. Lucas Coffey!

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