Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Three Keys to Attracting a Following

My bad cell phone pic of the Killdares at the Dallas Zoo
We've all heard of building a following. It's a good phrase for it, as it takes patience, persistence, and constant production of value. I also think that it is equally viable to say you attract a following rather than build it. If you build something, it implies you have raw materials and just construct it from scratch. To attract something, you need a lure, bait, something that it finds irresistible.

A couple of weekends ago, we saw a local band (though they tour nationally) called the Killdares play at the Dallas Zoo for their annual Safari Nights concert series.  The Killdares are a bagpipe-infused band with the ability to generate die-hard fans over their rather long tenure here in Dallas. We went with the kids, as did many other families, and I heard some people around the bar asking who the band was that was playing that night. Several of those in attendance were obviously just there for something to do. For us, it was a bit of both. I've caught the Killdares several times (usually at public events like the Irish Festival or the State Fair), and I know their sound well if not their songs, so seeing them in a venue that the kids would like is a double-benefit.

But among the know-nothing-about-the-band crew, and those of us with a hybrid agenda, there lurked a tribe, and a multi-generational one at that. The longevity of the band has allowed them to build fans in their 60s singing every word along with them and fans in their 20s wearing Killdares jerseys to the show. They had no shortage of kids dancing along to the tunes as well. They certainly attracted the following through a few key factors:

  1. Create a Universal Product - The appeal of the Killdares' music may not attract everyone, but it certainly spans different market segments. Still, Celtic music with rocking rhythms is still a niche. But it is a niche that exists in enough segments of the population that they still have potential customers that they haven't reached yet. When designing your product, your brand, and your value proposition, it has to appeal to enough people that you may always have customers still willing to buy. A product that appeals to one person can only sustain you if that one person can support your entire life, and then you're not selling, you're a dependent.
  2. Persist over Time - The Killdares have survived well over a decade, playing venues open to their style of music, and continuing to play true to that style, through personnel and other changes. Cast a line once while fishing, and you may catch nothing, no matter how great the bait is. Cast great bait out a few hundred times, and you will. 
  3. Enjoy Producing -  The Killdares are not U2. They don't have the fanbase that the Foo Fighters have. But they do seem to enjoy playing, and it shows. When you enjoy producing whatever it is you have to offer, the quality is improved.
What other factors do you think contributes to attracting a following? Whom do you follow? Why do you follow them?

If you are interested in following The Killdares, check out their site and their music.