Finding Profit in Educational Events

Are you making the most of the events you’re already hosting at your music retail business? During the 2016 NAMM Show, James Harding of Gist Piano Center addressed finding the profit in your existing events. He shared three ways to take what you’re doing every day in your business and make more money, with a few fine-tunings.

“What are your most underrated traffic sources?” Harding asked. He then explained that they’re the events you’re already hosting that bring more people into your store—for instance, recitals, master classes, print music reading sessions, clinics, and community and industry meetings.

Here are Harding’s three tips to generate profit from your events. (Watch the video for the full session.)

1. Marketing with events
Harding insisted that every event is an opportunity to promote your products and services. And marketing is leveraging your events to promote sales—taking your promotional messages and piggybacking on something that’s already happening.

• E-programs or PowerPoint templates. Include your company logo, specials and a coupon for future visits. Use online concert or recital programs. Create a downloadable PDF that teachers can use, and attach a promotional coupon to it. Also, create a downloadable PowerPoint presentation for your teachers. It’s another opportunity during the program to reach people.

• Photo ops. Create a photo-op area in your store. Customers can take pictures there, and your logo goes along for the ride. It could be a logo wall on your stage—all those recital photos then become ads for your store. A holiday display can also become a fun environment where students and families take holiday photos with your store in the background. (Harding has Christmas lights, a grand piano and his company’s brand logo ready for holiday photo ops.)

• Create a video pre-roll. Open the doors to your event 30 minutes early, and provide a video entertainment loop (like in movie theaters) while the audience waits for the recital to start. Gist has created a 15-minute video, so it loops twice in 30 minutes. Make 3–4 minutes of your video pre-roll promotional and the rest entertainment. Mix your message and product demo videos with trivia questions, video clips of your favorite artists and student performances, and relevant clips of past events.

2. Merchandising for educational events
Create an environment your visitors hate to leave. The first step is making sure the store looks clean and bright. It sends the message that you appreciate your guests.

• Make your event space comfortable. Think of the space like you would a hotel conference room. Comfortable chairs matter. Make sure the space is free of boxes and debris. If people perceive that you consider their events important, they’ll be grateful and more willing to buy from you. Snacks keep people in your store, and every minute they’re in your store, there’s potential to sell them something.

• Test your equipment in advance. Make sure everything’s ready to go, so the event goes off without a hitch. Confirm that everything is working as planned. Make sure instruments are properly tuned and adjusted.

• Set up displays around your event space that appeal to visitors. Include an entertaining video loop that people can watch while they snack. Have new products out and ready for people to touch and try. Showcase high-profit accessories. Make the displays interactive. Encourage people to try things! Offer something different every time.

3. Selling at educational events
If you want to make money, you have to ask for the sale. It never hurts.

• Get your staff ready to engage. They are the key to keeping people in your store after the event. They also drive attention to key products. Make sure employees are excited, focused, enthusiastic and ready to create demand. Also, make sure they thank people for coming into the store and start conversations with them.

• Welcome your visitors personally. Have your store owner, company president or sales leader on hand to greet folks coming in. This indicates regard. Highlight one or two current specials. Harding shared that his company had 30 recitals in the store during the holidays, and at every recital, Harding took 4 minutes to welcome every single person. He thanked them for being there, mentioned that the store has more exciting events planned, touched on the holiday season and took a minute to tell them about a promotional special. Because he took a minute to ask for the sale, he sold a piano to a grandmother who secretly bought it for her grandkids as a present. (Harding finalized the sale while the family had snacks in the lobby.)

Ask for social media engagement and email list subscriptions. Take a few minutes to tell guests about your social media activities, and ask them to join your email lists. You’ll be stunned by the results if you devote a little time to it.

• Offer a day-only discount. Tell customers, “Here’s a special discount just for you as a thank you for visiting us today.”

Have an urgent call to action that they’re informed about repeatedly throughout the event. It takes a little more effort and communication between your entire staff, but it creates opportunity.

Harding shared one of his favorite quotes from Thomas Edison: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.”