How to Get More Business.
My good friend Bob Bonnen wanted to grow his business. Besides being one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet, Bob is also an extremely talented and successful musician. Bob plays guitar and harmonica and sings at bars and resorts all the way from Islamorada down in the Florida Keys up to Palm Beach. He’s also invited to perform at special events and corporate conferences around the county. When you listen to Bob sing and play, you’re watching a consummate professional with years of experience and loads of talent truly master the stage.
When Bob expressed his desire get more business to me and the other members of our Strategic Roundtable, he figured he already knew exactly what he needed to do. As Bob saw it, if he simply added a few more songs to his already enormous repertoire and also further developed his already prodigious guitar chops, he’d not only get more business, but he could charge more for each of his new bookings.
To illustrate his case, Bob performed for our group. First, he shared the screen and showed everyone around the Zoom his song list of almost 100 selections. Then he asked us to pick a song from the list and treated us all to his personal interpretation of our choice: Crystal Gayle’s Don’t It Make my Brown Eyes Blue.
Everyone was stunned by Bob’s talent.
After the applause died down, someone asked, “Why do you need to learn more songs to get more business Bob?”
“Well, I only know a few Tom Petty songs,” he answered, “and a couple by Fleetwood Mac. It would be good if I knew some more of theirs and other artists people request.”
“And why do you need to learn more chords?” someone else inquired.
“Learning more jazz voicings would help with interesting chord substitutions and I could dress up a few songs with walking bass lines and arpeggios.”
“And why do you think this would get you more business?” I asked.
“I’d be better. I’d know more songs and I’d know more ways to play them,” he answered.
“And this would get you more, better paying gigs how exactly?” I asked again.
This time Bob was silent.
Luckily, one of our members chimed in.
How to Get More Business.
“Look Bob,” Cindy said. “You’re already a phenomenal performer. You know tons of songs and you play and sing them beautifully. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with learning more songs and there’s certainly nothing wrong with improving your guitar playing, but that’s not going to get you any more business. You’re as good as you need to be to get all the business you want. To get more business, what you need to get better at is…”
Cindy paused dramatically before continuing. “…getting more business.”
After her bolt of wisdom sunk in, we went around the Zoom and each of us talked about how Bob could increase his outreach, build his customer base, and demonstrate to his clients why they should not only invite him to play for their audiences but why they should invite him back. We explored mailing lists, virtual presentations, pricing strategies, and audience engagement. And we talked about how Bob could build on his unique talents to set himself apart from his competition – something we fondly referred to as his “Bobness.”
What if you Don’t Have Bobness?
Maybe you don’t play guitar for cheering appreciative crowds. Maybe your best singing is done all alone in the shower. And chances are your name’s not Bob. But that doesn’t mean there’s not lots for you to learn from Bob’s example.
Why? Because you’re already damn good at whatever it is you do, too. Working to be better at it is always a good idea but not necessarily what’s going to help you get more business, more opportunities, more clients, more money, or whatever more you’re hoping to acquire.
Instead, developing your own “Bobness” – that is, working to refine and promote more of what makes you special and what makes you special to your audiences – is where the next big step is in your development.
As we’ve said so many times before in these blogs, “People don’t choose what you do, they choose who you are.”
Lots of people can sing Don’t it Make my Brown Eyes Blue. Only Bob can sing it like Bob.
And only you can do you, too. Or, as Oscar Wilde wrote, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.
Bob is extraordinarily Bob. He is utterly, uniquely, unequivocally Bob. IT’S WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT HIM! What makes up a performance is two things; the material and the artist performing it. You are so right, Bruce, and the roundtable nailed it.
Bob’s wonderful, good natured, approachable, clever and funny way with the audience is what makes his already rock solid performance really sparkle and shine. This is the piece that when represented as your forum recommends, will bring all the business he can handle, regardless of the new chords and finger stylings he is sure to add.
He’s already there. How wonderful.
Hence, Bobness! As in, “his Royal Bobness.”
In the ‘60s, Clark Terry, one of my favorite trumpet (actually flugelhorn) players was cutting a record. He brought in an arrangement of Misty, the old chestnut. Somebody said, “Everybody’s played Misty, Clark”.
“I haven’t”, he said.
Only Bob can sing it like Bob and that’s forever.
I love the comment about “To get more business, what you need to get better at is getting more business.”
Thanks Rick. I think “To get more business, what you need to get better at is getting more business” is worthy of its own blog post. I appreciate you showing me that.