4 Ways That Probabilistic Promotion Can Increase Sales and Sign-ups

This guest post is by Jon Ostrow (@miccontrol) of MicControl, a music blogging community that bridges the gap between musicians and music bloggers.

image from www.channelpro.co.uk As the holiday season comes to an end, discounts have been deployed left and right in hopes of increasing music sales. The idea of these discounts is to offer your music at a lower cost than usual, and presumably, lower than the competition. But what good is a 10% discount if everyone else is giving one as well?

This question was answered by a recent Amp Music Marketing article, in which they presented a simple solution: Probabilistic Promotion.

The idea presented here was that it is better to charge full price and offer a 1 in 10 chance to receive the product for free, rather than give everyone a 10% discount. But while this form of promotion can be great, the idea suggested here is still missing a very important piece of the puzzle.

You are still offering a discount rather than a premium!

This Strategy Is Not Limited To Music Sales

Discounts are all sugar and lollypops, but in the end, the customer (in this case a fan) is still getting the same product, just at a cheaper price.

As most of you are already familiar with, music sales are getting harder and harder to come by. Just offering a discount for your music still doesn't change the fact that people can already stream and download music for free (albeit illegally). If you want to create a promotion that works, you need to use a strategy that pulls fans away from the thought of illegal downloads, and towards that extra value, which can only be obtained through purchasing the music.

Of course, probabilistic promotion does not need to be limited to music sales, it can be used in any situation where a fan is opting to do something, such as merch sales and mailing list sign-ups.

So to help get the ball rolling, I've come up with 4 simple opportunities for you to use to create a probabilistic promotion campaign surrounding the idea of offering value rather than giving a discount.

4 Ways To Use Probabilistic Promotion

1) 1 in 15 T-Shirts sold gets an original silk-screened poster that is signed and numbered as a part of a limited edition series.

A subliminal call to action is created due to the 'while supplies last' nature of a limited edition poster series. You can even try creating a different poster for each tour or show and offer them as soon as the doors open. The sense of urgency created by the desire to get the limited edition poster could be a great way to boost merch sales throughout your next tour.

2) 1 in 20 pre-orders gets a hand-made book that contains hand-written lyrics, original artwork and a personalized message.

Yes this would be one hell of a time-consuming project, but the value presented here is through the roof and could be a great way to ensure a large volume of pre-sales. You could even try to combine this idea of a hand-made, one of a kind book with the album packaging!

3) 1 in 10 tickets sold gets a free meet and greet pass.

Fans who have paid and even traveled to come out and see you perform are certain to show quite a bit more interest in you as a person than someone who casually listens to your music while browsing Facebook. The live performance is all about creating a memorable experience, and what better way to ensure that your fans walk away with that special memory by giving the chance to meet you and chat before or after the show.

4) 1 in 5 who join the mailing list receive an invitation to a private Q&A session on UStream.

A mailing list is one of the most important ways for you to reach your fans, as it is the ONLY direct channel of communication that you will have. This becomes increasingly important as your fan base continues to grow! Any fan who has joined your mailing list is telling you flat out, that they want to hear from you. This dedication to you and your music should be rewarded by giving them access to be even closer with you! Giving your fans the opportunity to ask you questions and get an immediate and direct response is extremely empowering.

Have You Seen This Strategy Used Before?

While the numbers I've used can be changed to make the probability easier or more difficult, you want to keep in mind that the promotion must seem attainable from a fan standpoint in order for it to attract any attention (i.e. 1 in 5 pre-orders gets a free t-shirt could be good, but 1 in 100 is not.)

What kind of probabilistic promotions have you seen in the past?

Tell us below.


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