Bringing new people in the store and creating a steady traffic flow is every retailer’s challenge. Whitney Brown Grisaffi of Ted Brown Music is a third-generation music retailer who’s keeping the 86-year-old family business strong by generating in-store traffic. At 2017 Summer NAMM, Grisaffi shared how she runs the business in six locations (with her sister Stephanie), stays relevant and invites people in the store.
According to Grisaffi, music lessons remain one of the most effective ways to get people in your store, as they provide a steady traffic flow of students and parents, not to mention sales.
Here are eight additional opportunities to drive store traffic. Look to Grisaffi’s examples, and consider tweaking these ideas to come up with your own promotions.
1. Host store tours for your young visitors.
Give parents and kids a tour around your store, so they can see what their options are as customers. This is a simple, low-cost idea. It introduces potential customers to your brand; forms relationships with local early childhood educators, including preschool; and presents your business as a place where kids want to go. Not least of all, it introduces kids to music.
“We want to make sure kids have a lot of different experiences, such as watching a repair technician pound out a dent in an instrument, feeling the music against our sound wall, getting hands-on at our instrument petting zoo, having in-store birthday parties, and discovering our books and puppets,” Grisaffi said.
2. Host birthday parties in your store.
Birthday parties have a low cost because you already have the staff and equipment. Grisaffi provides paper products (and favors at an additional cost), and the families provide the cake and ice cream. The parties run 90 minutes, which includes 45 minutes of structured fun and 45 minutes of cake, ice cream and opening presents. You’ll need a dynamic facilitator to make sure those 45 minutes are a memorable experience.
3. Host a drum circle or ukulele circle.
Grisaffi committed to a drum circle when it was still a new concept. Ted Brown Music hired a facilitator, trained her and started holding a monthly drum circle. This was met with mediocre success, so the company committed to doing it weekly. According to Grisaffi, the drum circle was tough at first, but it built upon itself, created its own community and grew to 20–30 people, depending on the week. The circle is held the same night every week, so people know to come to the store on that particular night—and they bring their friends. Ted Brown Music has been doing it for 16 years, and it’s a staple. The same happened with a ukulele circle. Both the drum and uke circles have helped spread the word about the store. They’ve also created consistent store traffic during slower times of the year.
4. Work with vendors to host clinics.
Invite experts into your stores who teach and preach the value of making music. Say “yes” to clinics that come to town, if they make sense for your business. You become the hero because you give customers the chance to make memories with their favorite musicians. Take reservations and remind customers to attend. Grisaffi commented that a recent Gregg Bissonette drum clinic was priceless, particularly his pro-brick-and-mortar comments. Many clinicians will promote you by reminding audiences to support their local music stores. A few tips:
• Invite your customers to meet and learn from master musicians.
• Big-name clinicians invite press coverage and social media engagement.
• Establish yourself as the go-to place to learn about music.
• Gather info on attendees to target them in the future.
5. Host a community event in your store.
Grisaffi was given the opportunity to host a social for the local chamber of commerce. Her store held the social hour, followed by a drum circle for the group. “It was one of those great community-building events,” she said. “It’s a win-win.” When hosting these events, invite people who don’t have a reason to come into a music store, and showcase local musicians and performers. This is an effective way to develop strong partnerships with visible community organizations. It can also be a fundraising resource for organizations.
6. Make your store a UPS Access Point.
UPS approached Grisaffi about making her store a UPS access point. If a UPS customer isn’t home when a package is dropped off, he or she gets a note that says, “Your package is at Ted Brown Music. Here’s the address.” Since becoming a UPS access point, Ted Brown Music has seen an increase in new customers—some who didn’t know it was there—according to Grisaffi. She commented that this works well in densely populated areas, with residences within one mile. You also have the choice of how big a package you want to accept, so it doesn’t have to take up a lot of space in your store. “I recommend it,” Grisaffi said. “It’s worked out well for us.” She recommended offering a coupon or other incentive to new customers who visit the store via the UPS pickup.
7. Use social media to drive store traffic.
Through social media, Ted Brown Music has found a way to start conversations with its customers—and at a low cost. The company recently promoted the Greg Bissonette clinic, boosted it to a targeted audience for a low cost and got 10 reservations from people who weren’t customers. Also, live streaming events gives people a chance to know what’s happening at your store, according to Grisaffi. Sometimes, you may want to live stream just to keep people thinking about your business. Ted Brown Music employees live stream, so people can put a face and name to a specific store. A few tips:
• Target audiences on Facebook to deliver store promotions just for them. Advertising can start at just $5.
• Hold virtual events using Facebook Live.
• Employee-generated content, such as product demo videos, can start a conversation to bring people into your store.
8. Promote your store using geocaching apps.
Interactive apps are new and always changing. Apps like Pokemon Go can bring young people into your store who may not have otherwise come in. Grisaffi’s Tacoma, Washington store has a big rock wall in the parking lot. One day, she noticed people at the wall and realized there was a geocache treasure stashed in the wall as part of a treasure hunt. So, she got the idea to run her own treasure hunt promotion and planted an incentive to come in the store when people found the treasure in the wall.
According to Grisaffi, the team-building app is new for her company, but the app was rolled it out to customers and music groups (bands, choirs and orchestras) that work specifically with Ted Brown Music. The idea is that they complete missions individually or as a group. A mission could be to make a video of your group rehearsal and post it or to explain why you chose your instrument and how you put it together. Once people complete these missions, they earn points that turn into rewards. They have the opportunity to participate in the game, have fun and benefit from it. Try an incentive for customers who visit your store through an app.