What sets Seth Evans apart from most local bandleaders is that he understands the importance of making personal connections through marketing. Since his band Rossonian formed in 2012, Evans has used physical "thank you" notes and cards to not only grab attention, but to connect with fans.
Before Rossonian left for their first Midwestern tour on Nov. 5, for instance, Evans rounded up as many addresses that he could and mailed out some quirky, mock postcards. The missives doubled as personalized greetings from the road and invitations to Rossonian's "welcome home" show Nov. 20 at the hi-dive.
"I designed the front with a free online photo program called FOTOR, the back with PowerPoint, and had them printed downtown at National Teleprinting on Blake St.," Evans recalls. "The front side said, 'Greetings From The Midwest' and included a collage of images of the band and stock images of some of the places we were going to play. The back side was that of a normal postcard where we wrote the addresses and notes to our friends."
To reach those friends and other potential fans, Evans, along with his keyboardist, Scott Roush, sent out texts and Facebook messages asking people for their physical addresses. Just before the "welcome home" show, Evans and his bandmates received plenty of responses thanking them for the postcards.
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"I think [fans] liked them mostly for two reasons," Evans says. "First, people like holding the tangible object in their hands, which is something I think we take for granted in our now 'cloud-based' lives. Second, when they get a personal greeting in their mailbox from us they know that we thought about them individually and actually care for them. Not just their mouse clicks." And Evans does care, especially when it comes to his band. On August 28, just a few weeks before their first tour, Rossonian's van (the Ross van) was stolen from the front of Evans' house. Evans scrambled to find another ride so he wouldn't have to cancel the dates he worked tirelessly to book.
"I ended up paying $1,600 for an old '91 Dodge 15 passenger that had been a church van its whole life and it made the entire trip flawlessly, albeit getting about 12 mpg," Evans says.
Rossonian first music video for "Ra," off its 2013 debut EP You Are Your Own Dentist, features a bunch of girls dressed in plastic medical suits and bikinis holding plastic cups doing some cult-like activities as Evans and his bandmates play the song. The postcard idea started after Evans sent the girls in the video some personal "thank you" notes.
"The girls seemed to really appreciate the thank you's and we had a good turnout for the release, so I figured we would try again," Evans said. "It is much more personal than just casting a large Facebook net into the internet ocean. Also, we knew exactly who we sent invitations to and could gauge whether or not the invites brought people to the show depending on who actually showed up."
Of course, Evans isn't against using Facebook event pages or email lists. In some ways, those methods are a bit more practical and, when it comes to marketing, you have to use whatever means necessary.
"As a small time indie band, I'm not sure there is one catch-all method for inviting people to your shows. I honestly think you still can't beat word of mouth. Even if money was not an issue, I don't think we would send out postcards for every show. If we did, I think they would lose their effectiveness. 'Oh, it's just another stupid postcard from those smiling, Rossonian assholes,'" Evans muses.
If all goes as planned, Evans says, they will release the album early next year. And, with their new van, Rossonian is going to hit the road again in the summer, so expect a postcard.
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