Encore Blog

How to Write the Perfect Cover Note (in 7 Steps)

After analysing hundreds of these messages, we’ve pulled together a list of 7 top tips for your cover notes which will improve your chances of being booked.

Welcome to the first article in our new client communication series!

When you’re applying for jobs, the way you communicate with clients has a big impact on your success. Time after time we see musicians miss out on bookings simply because they were too slow in replying or a poorly worded reply confused a client. This guide will give you the tools you need to communicate effectively with clients, and ultimately win more bookings.


Writing a cover note that converts

On Encore, your first interaction with a client is your cover note. After analysing hundreds of these messages, we’ve pulled together a list of 7 top tips for your cover notes which will improve your chances of being booked. Some of these strategies may already be second nature to you, but we’re confident there’s some useful advice here for any musician.

1. Understand your target client

As any good sales professional will tell you, the best way to get someone on your side is to understand them first. Make it your task to uncover the frustrations, hopes, fears, and goals of your clients. Only once you have this knowledge will you be able to tailor your application to their needs.

If you met a potential client in person, you’d instantly be assessing them based on a huge number of subconscious cues – their body language, their tone of voice, the way they communicate – and then changing the way you acted to encourage the client to book you. Though you may only have access to limited information online, it’s equally important that you personalise the language and tone you use while speaking to clients on Encore.

Before you apply for a job, try to identify what kind of client has added the job to Encore. Look at the budget range, the event description, the location of the job and picture the human being who entered the details.

If this sounds like a daunting task, you may want to consider developing client personas which will help you to categorise and segment the types of clients you deal with.

personas example.jpg
An example persona by FitSmallBusiness – see how they created it here

2. Address their fears

Now you have a real person in mind, you’ll want to start by addressing their fears around booking musicians.

Booking musicians can be a daunting prospect for clients. For many, it’s a significant expense, and compared to most things you can buy online (like a laptop or a new pair of shoes), it’s more difficult to assess quality before you make the purchase. If you can put their mind at rest, you’re much more likely to win a booking.

Here are the main reasons we’ve found clients have decided not to book:

  • Worried about being overcharged
  • Worried the musicians who applied wouldn’t create the right atmosphere (particularly for weddings)
  • Worried that the music wouldn’t attract enough people to their event (particularly for pubs and bars)
  • Not being able to meet the musicians first
  • Going with a recommendation from a friend instead

In each case, make a clear argument for why they shouldn’t worry. If you think that price is their concern, make it clear that the quote you are providing is excellent value. If they’re stressed out by wedding preparations, make it clear you’re a professional, trusted performer.

 

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Give clients one less thing to worry about by quickly dispelling their musician-booking fears

 

3. Emphasise your skills

Now you understand who your client is and you’ve chiselled away their initial doubts about booking live music, the next step is to persuade them that you’re the perfect person for the job.

But what do clients want to see in a musician? Can’t they get a good enough idea of the quality of your performance from your recordings?

Well, we’ve recently been surveying our clients on what it is they look for in a musician and the same answers keep coming up. Clients want to see:

  • Excellent media. Make sure you attach a video which showcases you performing to a high standard. This should ideally include professionally produced videography and audio, and include sections showing you performing to an audience so the client can imagine what you’d be like at their event. Refer to your media in your cover note.
  • Social proof. Clients want to know that other people have booked you and had a great experience. If you don’t have any Encore reviews yet, make sure you’ve added testimonials and mention your most high profile bookings in your biography. Again, pick and choose from these for your cover note.
  • Complete information. Make sure your Encore profile is well filled-out and your cover note contains all the information they need. Clients don’t want to have to search for your website or Facebook page to understand the service you provide.  

O&O Duo have a number of excellent videos showcasing their unique blend of acoustic pop

4. Provide extra value

This is the oldest strategy in the sales playbook. If you’ve ever bought a plane ticket because of the complimentary legroom, or a guitar because of the free amp, you’ll know what I mean. Everyone loves to feel they’ve got a great deal.

When you’re making an offer to a client, try to throw in something extra of value that will help differentiate your offer from other musicians. This doesn’t need to come across as gimmicky or cheap (you’d be better off not offering a novelty pen), or even cost you anything. This could be:

  • A tailored song request
  • A PA system
  • A Skype consultation to plan out the details of the event

If the extra service you’re adding in is a significant expense for you, then you could experiment with including this as an optional paid addition to your quote:

  • “If you’d be interested in a DJ service to keep your guests dancing after the set, we’re happy to offer this for an additional £100”
  • “I can arrange your favourite song for string quartet for an additional £75”
amazon
Amazon encourages customers to make more costly bulk purchases by adding the extra value of free shipping

5. Use a personal tone of voice

The internet has made communication faster and easier than ever before, but what it doesn’t do so well is create meaningful relationships.  

As someone selling a service over the internet, you need to show at every step that you are considering the person at the end of the line as a human being and not just as a means to an end.

Studies show that increasingly people buy things because they identify with the people behind the product, rather than because of the product itself, so if you can get this right you’ll give yourself a strong competitive advantage. 

  • Always use personal greetings. “Hi Simon!” is much friendlier than “Dear Sir/Madam”
  • Use personal sign-offs. “Kind regards, John (The Beatles)” not “Kind regards, The Beatles”
  • If a client mentions something personal in the event description, reference this in your cover note. “Congratulations on your engagement!”
  • Adopt a tone that suits your brand. If you’re a party band, this should be informal but professional. If you’re an upmarket string quartet, a more traditional writing style may be better suited to your cover notes.

 

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The recent rise of automated customer support means it’s now more important than ever to be human over the internet

 

 

6. End with a clear call to action

The final thing to include in your cover note is a clear call to action (CTA); a short message that tells the client exactly what they should do next. Small is powerful – adding this line of text is likely to be the most effective change you could make to your cover notes to improve your chances of being booked. 

Always place the most important CTA at the end of your cover note and never use more than two in a single message, so your clients know exactly what to do next. Here are a few CTAs which you should consider using:

  • Please give my videos a watch by clicking play on my profile picture.
  • Looking forward to hearing from you – just click “Send message” to get in touch.
  • If you’d like to chat about this over the phone, please click “Request call” and so we can arrange a time that suits you.  
  • Once you’re ready to book, simply click “Request to Book”.

7. Add 5+ cover note templates

Putting all this into practice every time you applied for a job would require a lot of time and attention. Using the templates feature you can create a bank of brilliant cover notes which can be thrown into an application (and even repurposed outside of Encore) in a matter of minutes.

We recommend adding at least 5 cover note templates to your account, so you’re well-placed to respond quickly to any job you’re suitable for. Looking at the stats, we can see the knock-on effect of being able to send a speedy, well-written reply is that you’re much more likely to get booked.

In 2017, the average no. of cover note templates for:

  • Musicians who hadn’t been booked through Encore was 2
  • Musicians who’d received 2 or more Encore bookings was 5.5

Learn how to add cover notes to your profile here.

All together now – A worked example

Bringing what all these techniques together, let’s see what a cover note designed for converting clients would look like. 

cover note example.JPG

Further reading

Persuasion techniques

Writing brilliant copy

Understanding your customers

Understand subconscious decision making

 

Jonny Venvell

Encore Community Manager, singer, oboist, jazz gig goer.

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