Powerhouse Store Events That Drive Sales and Traffic

At The 2018 NAMM Show, Tim Spicer of Spicer’s Music shared his best tips for hosting events that help drive business. As a NAMM Top 100 retailer and winner of Best Marketing and Promotions in 2017, Spicer offered best practices, his formula for success and valuable lessons learned along the way. Here are session highlights. (Watch the video for the full presentation.)

1. Decide why you want to hold an event.
Is it to create sales and new customers, showcase a new product, or build name recognition? In 2017, Spicer’s Music held 28 in-store events, not including workshops. Only three were for-profit events. Spicer shared that his profits rose 35 percent above the previous year as a result of these events—and the way they engaged the community.

2. Assemble the right team. Combine detail-oriented and big-picture personalities. Clearly define job roles and expectations. Delegate the details. Communicate often and thoroughly. Fully include your team from start to finish. Continuously remind your team of the vision. If you don’t keep everyone on the same page, you may lose excitement and engagement during stressful times. Spicer remarked that the No. 1 mistake is to quit communicating to your team.

3. Promote your event. Use social media (a no-brainer), befriend bloggers (get them involved because they have followers), create promotional videos (low budget, if necessary), involve your local chamber of commerce and area tourism bureau, and invite local media.

4. Meet with your team after the event and recap. Measure your effectiveness. Did you reach your goals? Should the event be repeated? What needs to change? Turn “unsuccessful” into successful events.

Open mic night. Make a connection with a local recording studio to record the musicians, then turn it into an album. Get musicians performing to engage their friends and family to vote on which songs get on the album. This can explode your audience and reach. Sell the albums, and split the profits with a local charity. Put a little time into thinking creatively about how you might host an open mic.

Contemporary Music Open Mic Night. Fellow retailer Contemporary Music Center hosts a monthly fundraiser for different programs at a local high school that may or may not involve music. It includes teachers, students and families. Lock into your local high school, so you’re involved in the community. Make sure it’s not for the school band or orchestra, but other non-music programs. You will engage an audience that might not shop with you immediately but will remember you in the long-term—perhaps for lessons.

College jam, youth jam, blues jam. Offer a place for people to get snacks and hang out in your store.

Host concerts, a la Guitar Center Sessions. Place candles on tables, set up your showroom, and make it BYOB and BYOF event. This is an opportunity to attract non-musicians to your store. Spicer’s hosts a Valentine’s Day show with a local band.

Host school events and field trips. Be as actively involved in your schools as possible. Spicer collaborated with a local teacher and professors to bring 100 students in the store every semester. He gives them a free ukulele lesson and sells ukuleles, cases, picks and accessories. It’s a huge boost to the store’s cash flow. Spicer’s also leads a drum circle for the Australian Olympic Swim Team training at Auburn University. The company wrote a press release, and local media helped get the word out.

Mason Music RIFF Wars. Fellow local retailer Mason Music created a contest based on “Star Wars” to win a new pedal, which the vendor donated. It highlighted the best 30-second guitar riff. Contestants had to film their performances and send them to the pedal manufacturer, and it was judged by the company’s owner. It’s a highly engaging and low-cost idea, and you can boost it on Facebook.

Birthday party. Throw your store a birthday party every year. It’s an opportunity to give back to your customers. Consider gift cards and accessory giveaways, and invite customers.

Blues Angel Music’s Blues on the Bay. Blues Angel Music collaborated with its chamber of commerce to co-host an eight-concert series, concluding with the store’s 20-year celebration. Blues Angel Music invited vendors to donate free instruments and offered giveaways. The company also added 10,000 new emails to its list, and the town helped promote it.

Make Music Day. This is a worldwide event on the summer solstice. It’s an incredible opportunity to bring your community together through music, and you can become the Make Music Day focal point in your area. Get people involved in playing music together through community jam sessions. Mold it to meet your town’s needs. You can bring the cost down with local business sponsorships. You can also create relationships with other music stores.

Kids Music Day (Make Music Day for kids). When you’re involving kids, the options are endless. Spicer’s had a Lessons Open House, a low-budget event branded with Music Day for Kids. Teach Music America is a week of activities that highlights music educators—another opportunity to get involved.

Other potential concepts for events include an auction to sell old gear that’s not moving, a gear festival (a la Sweetwater’s GearFest), a music festival, a battle of the bands and a singing competition. Spicer also mentioned a musician networking event, where you could pair up local school music teachers, or a worship leader event, with different houses of worship participating. Spicer’s Music hosts a black-tie event for loyal customers by invitation only and as a thank you. The company invites its Top 100 customers and influential people in the community.

• As small business owners, don’t take on too much responsibility. You still have to run your business!

• Hosting an event to increase business doesn’t have to interrupt your current business.

• Lean on your team, and empower them.

• Bring your community together. Quit focusing on making money—focus on making a difference in someone’s life.

• Be the focal point.