Louie La Vella, Brand Manager

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Website: Louielavella

Branding expert in the entertainment industry

Louie builds celebrity, musician, and festival brands “like a boss” using social media marketing tools.  He helps established brands who want to fine tune their message as well as newcomers to the business who have no idea how to market themselves.

Before this branding business

As a young man, he had always liked the nightlife industry.  Louie marketed events for big promoters and decided that he could use his skills for his own business.  He started organising his own events at venues, using his own DJs.  Louie’s business started out as a local brand, but he always had the vision and long-term goal of growing it internationally.  He launched his own music radio show and also appeared on national television.  Today he is a marketing director and consultant for big brands.

Initial challenges

Entertainment is a cut-throat industry and therein lay the primary challenge for Louie.  If a certain door wouldn’t open for him, he would create a similar opportunity.  When he knew it wouldn’t be easy to get a spot on a radio show he learned how to produce his own radio show instead.  He then offered the hour-long show to radio stations for free and sold advertisements to cover the costs.  By being featured on 350 radio stations around the world, he built his own international network with which brands wanted to associate.

Unique syndicated content

Louie saw a gap in the market for a show that featured the distinct “club sound” that was popular then.  He didn’t highlight the usual radio-friendly chart toppers; it was music specific to the nightlife that people sought after.  Later on, radio stations were willing to pay him for his quality content.

Selling of content vs promoting your brand

It’s less labour intensive to sell your content because you don’t have to go to the effort of selling the ad space or employ somebody to do it.  Those are two different business models – to create the content and to sell the ad space.  One is, unfortunately, not always able to do it that way.  Your other option is to give your content away for free, or at a nominal fee, in exchange for part of the advertising revenue. If you aren’t receiving any compensation for content you should see it as a branding opportunity.  Remember that it is exposure for your brand and that you are building relationships in the process.  Take advantage of the opportunity to introduce your brand to many people – it is worth much more to a growing brand than the small fee you would’ve received.

Realise your worth

You need to decide at which point you are going to start to charge for your content.  This will depend on how big your brand is in your specific industry.  If you draw larger crowds (whether you are the headlining act or not) you have some leverage and should think about charging more for your content.

Record label as middleman

For a long time, record labels had the financial means as well as the “blueprint” to dictate which artists rose to fame.  The label would then also take the largest cut of the revenue.  These days the internet enables artists to bypass the middleman record labels and create their own brands.  You can make a comfortable living if you know how to properly brand yourself.  This is where Louie comes into the picture.  He uses his skills on the business marketing side to help position the artists in the industry.  Great content + great business marketing = success.

Louie’s value proposition

As a marketer, Louie tends to focus on the analytics of people’s attention.  This means he focuses people’s attention on your brand.  He understands user behaviour and knows how to apply his knowledge to modern technology to the advantage of the brand.  Louie uses each social media platform’s integrated analytic software along with the intuition that comes with many years of experience.

Ideal customer

A person with a relentless drive to succeed and learn about the industry is Louie’s ideal customer.  They need to be consistently and actively engaged in the process.  Don’t be caught twiddling your thumbs.

Marketing channels

Louie recommends being where your fans are.  In his case this means being very active on Facebook, hosting festivals and guest appearances on podcasts.  You create different layers with your messages on social media to spark attention.  If you know who your audience is you will be able to create a strategy to address them better.  The same goes for your objective.

Building a fanbase

Take your own personality into consideration and think about your life story.  You need to build your message on that, your brand voice, in order to come across as genuine.  Then you need to start posting on social media daily about the different facets of your business – behind the scenes footage.

Business blueprint

Louie has several income streams.  He recommends that entrepreneurs consider diversifying as well, but to keep it manageable.  There’s less risk involved when you don’t keep your “eggs in one basket”.  You should still, however, be able to categorise your multiple revenues under your umbrella brand.

He is hired as director of marketing in a consulting role, where he is paid a retainer each month.  Additional bonuses may be part of the deal, depending on the specific contract.

Musicians sometimes approach Louie to coach them, because it’s not as costly as employing him as their brand manager.  They would typically spend a month together whereafter the artist may decide to make use of Louie’s coaching skills on an ad hoc basis.

Another stream of revenue for Louie is the books he published.  From that he gets invited to speak at events and workshops.

Louie’s books

The books are self-published but then passed on to a distributor.  They are sold on a multitude of platforms, as both hard copies and e-books.  As Louie is more of a speaker than a writer he records his chapters and has them transcribed.  

Reset button scenario

With the same knowledge and skills he currently has, Louie would consider a blog or vlog that focuses on technology.  He is fascinated by the development of technology.

Parting advice

Do something that you love.  This ensures that you have fun while going about your work.

If the right opportunity doesn’t present itself, create it.

If you are fortunate enough to be doing what you love, and you want to grow your business, be consistent even if you don’t see results right away.  Your breakthrough could be right around the corner.

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