Guerilla Marketing on a Chimp’s Budget 2.0

At the 2016 NAMM Show, Cris Behrens of Summerhays Music proved that you don’t need a big marketing budget to make a big impact. He updated his popular NAMM Idea Center session “Guerilla Marketing on a Chimp’s Budget 2.0” with new, out-of-the-box ideas to help you draw more customers to your business without spending much money.

Here are Behrens’ guerilla marketing ideas. (Watch the video for the full session.)

Watch out for musical artists coming to your area. Get in the habit of reaching out to your manufacturers to find out what artists will be in town on someone else’s dime, and bring the artists into your store for a mini clinic or meet-and-greet. Behrens called Zildjian, asked for assistance and arranged for Travis Barker of Blink-182 to visit Summerhays Music for a one-hour meet-and-greet. Behrens’ cost: $300. (Barker didn’t have enough time to host a clinic.) Word spread, people were lined up outside the door, and Summerhays sold enough accessories that evening to pay for the event.

Know your demographics, and play to them. Before you try to climb out of the box with your marketing ideas, know your demographics. Think about whom you’re advertising to and their ages. Behrens created a small ad targeted at female buyers and musicians, and he got creative with the visuals, using an ultrasound image with a pair of drumsticks.

Use social media to reach customers. Behrens is a big fan of giveaways on social media to get people interacting with his store and to help build his customer base. Don’t be afraid to reach out to radio stations and concert promoters, so you can use concert tickets as giveaways for your promotions. Behrens calls and explains that he works at a music store. “My niche is the band and orchestra market, I don’t have a lot of money to advertise, but I’ll be happy to trade music resources with you.” He might create a quarter-page ad to promote free concert tickets and post it on social media. Behrens also uses Facebook polls and works with different audiences, such as schools, to vote for their favorite school, rock band, or band and orchestra.

Cross-promote as a goodwill opportunity. Work with concert promoters and radio stations. Behrens regularly trades with both to help promote his store and its events. You might promote an instrument giveaway (donated by the manufacturer, so at no cost to you) and your store. You can often receive tickets and meet-and-greet passes in trade. If you give these to your teachers and private customers, you offer an experience that your competitors will have trouble matching.

Create unique contests. The Hands-On Contest has been successful for Summerhays. This promotion works if you have space for a couple hundred people for 30 hours straight (the contest time). Again, work with manufacturers to have them donate prizes. For the Hands-On Contest, Summerhays invites teens into the store to put their two hands on an instrument case and keep them there without moving. (The teens are seated on the floor and get a 10-minute break every six hours.) The last person with his or her hands on a case wins a band instrument. “You have their undivided attention, and you have one-on-one time to talk with them about what instrument they play, lessons and accessories,” Behrens said. Give out a gift certificate, depending on how long the contestant lasts. Summerhays Music has done this contest five years in a row and ended up selling 32 instruments from the 150 gift certificates that were handed out. (In its worst year, the contest still resulted in 21 instruments sold.) The biggest cost was hiring judges to watch the contestants.

Create signature promotions. Get a “1,” Get $100 is a successful promotion for Summerhays. Students who compete at state solo and ensemble competitions and receive a “1” superior rating get $100 toward the purchase of an upgraded instrument. Students simply need to bring in the adjudication sheet. Behrens created a simple flier for the promotion, and the flier also promoted Summerhays’ Graduate to Yamaha program and store accessories. Use the opportunity to advertise sales with signature promotions.

Take ideas back to your store. Get new ideas for your business by reading the industry trade magazines, visiting NAMM U Online and attending NAMM U sessions at NAMM Shows. These are free opportunities.

Offer extended financing. It makes even a small store seem as if it’s a big player and helps customers get what they really want, especially expensive instruments. Behrens created a promotion that advertised 18 months interest-free on purchases costing more than $399. Don’t let customers walk out the door because they think they can’t afford to buy. Use extended financing to rotate dead inventory (instead of discounting items). The financing will help move it faster. Check with your banks and credit unions.

Say “yes” to sponsorships and donations. Use this as a way to partner with community organizations in trade instead of just saying “no” to them. Behrens usually responds to requests by saying, “I’m sorry. I can’t give you the money, but what I’d love to do is email whatever you’re trying to promote to our customers, put it on our social media and put it up in our store.” Make this process simple by requesting a PDF. As a retailer, you have access to customers for leverage, so don’t be afraid to ask for free stuff on top of it. Behrens suggested asking for free tickets and adding your logo to an organization’s advertising, if it’s possible. He said they’ll do it nine times out of 10.

Use food trucks. Have food trucks on-site for sales or events at your store from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. This creates excitement and attracts people who might not have otherwise visited your store. Food trucks also encourage people to stay and get them one step closer to buying. Hand out food truck vouchers to customers if they spend a certain amount. Also leave store-discount coupons with the food truck, so you can reach an additional market in their followers.

Lay out your marketing strategies for a calendar year. Behrens schedules Summerhays’ annual Facebook polls, artist clinician series and Step Up to Yamaha promotions according to past successes. Add to your promotions schedule as you go, but spend a few minutes a week organizing and planning.

Also, when you create marketing and promos, don’t forget to look at the outcome—were they successful and did you have to spend much money?