What Is Direct-To-Fan Selling And Is It Relevant To My Business?

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Deciding the price at which to sell your product or service is always a tough one. There are so many things to factor in, before you even begin to put a price tag on your actual time and effort. Furthermore, the more people involved in the sales and marketing process, the higher the price must become to cover the additional costs.

This has become a particular challenge in creative industries, with musicians, writers, photographers, and other creatives struggling to make ends meet despite the popularity of their work. However, recent years have seen many of these artists begin to embrace direct-to-fan selling, removing the “middlemen”, and lowering their overheads by marketing and selling their creations directly to their fan-base.

While this model is not for everyone, it is becoming increasingly more popular. Here are some tips on how direct-to-fan selling can be beneficial, and the sort of business you need to get the most out of this method.

Recommended reading: Here’s How Small Businesses Can Stand Out From Their Competition

Circumvent Royalty Payment Models

The music industry in particular has seen a steady breakdown of the traditional royalty payment model. This is in part due to the popularity of digital downloads and streaming services, for which artists receive much lower returns. Often, fans will purchase only the tracks they like most, reducing the resultant royalty payment. Others will simply use platforms such as Spotify for which artists receive under 2 cents per play.

However, when artists handle their own distribution, they can oversee and manage their own costs, and keep a larger percentage of the label price from each sale. The same applies to other types of artist; for example, photographers can lose a large percentage of their revenue to gallery fees, or subscriptions to online photography distribution services. Authors, too, can find that their income is diminished by publishing and marketing fees.

Of course, direct-to-fan selling does mean a lot more work is required on the part of the artist. However, as long as the returns for that effort justify the time spent, then it can often be a worthwhile approach. For many ecommerce startups, the ability to conduct their own marketing significantly increases the profitability of their endeavors.

Similarly, the rise of drop-shipping has facilitated online-selling for those who prefer to remain one step back, and only concern themselves with production and distribution. If sales and marketing simply aren’t for you, then the direct-to-fan method may not be your first choice.

Nevertheless, building a productive relationship with a good dropshipper will allow you to do the next best thing. In this case, they will handle the promotion of your products, and liaising with customers, while all you need to do is keep creating those products, and filling orders as they come in.

Build More Powerful Connections

Another reason direct-to-fan marketing is so powerful is that fans want to engage with the artists who inspire them. They are far more likely to respond to a direct all-to-action from the artist, than to a faceless solicitation from their label. In addition, as much D2F selling occurs at events, such as exhibitions, concerts, and signings, fans are already in a positive, engaged state of mind, making them far more likely to consider making a purchase.

Of course, this engagement can also be conducted online, with email marketing, blog posts, and related content written by the artists, to their fans. These communications feel more meaningful and personal, which helps to strengthen the sense of connection, and gives fans an exclusive insight into the personas of the artists they follow.

Victoria Greene has been helping brands to build connections with their fans for years and she had this to say about the benefit of building up powerful connections:

When you are selling products you are part of a community, a family. You treat your own family with care and give them the attention they deserve because you love them and they love you. Applying this mindset to your customers will help you to forge deeper connections with them and give them a reason to support your business. – Victoria Greene, Founder of Victoria Ecommerce

Let your fans part of your family and they will see you as an extension of themselves. Once you’ve done this you’ve won the war for their affections, meaning that you can market to them from a position of strength.

Make the Most of Social Media

This marketing method also capitalizes on the many benefits of developing a strong social media presence. The ability to engage on a more personal level with fans, and be effectively part of their extended network, enables you to stay visible, and remain at the forefront of their minds, as they will regularly see your posts, or the reactions of others to your content.

There are over 2.2 billion monthly active users on Facebook, while the likes of Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat all having a legion of engaged subscribers. This presents you with a huge opportunity to connect with your fans and it’s one you should not ignore, both through organic engagement and, where appropriate, the use of paid advertising.

As you build your following on these channels, you create a perfect setting for promoting upcoming products and events, offering social incentives, and even making sales. This aspect of direct to fan selling is largely the same as social selling in general, so it is likely that your business will benefit from this tactic, even if other aspects of D2F selling is unsuitable.

Remember, that the reason direct to fan selling works so well is that it answers the wishes of many fans to have an opportunity to connect with the people that inspire them. As such, if your brand is one that is not focused on the people behind it, but rather the products it creates, you may find that your efforts are better spent on other marketing tactics.

However, if you know your audience wants to engage with you directly, then you have the perfect opportunity to both grant their wish, and drive your own sales in the process. Part of what you are selling in this case is the connection itself, not just the associated products which you inspire your audience to purchase.

While direct-to-fan selling is not for everyone, it is certainly worth considering whether your business could benefit from reducing the gap between you and your customers. The more directly you sell to your audience, the greater your influence will be. This connection gives you invaluable insights into the moods and preferences of your audience, and enables you to react appropriately.

Over time, this approach will help to build familiarity with your brand, increasing trust, and making it easier to secure sales. Meanwhile, your efforts to engage with your followers will also demonstrate that you are keen to place them at the center of your business endeavors, hear their feedback, and grow your business with their support and involvement.

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