Video Storytelling That Brings Customers in the Door

Why is video storytelling so important to music retailers? At The 2017 NAMM Show, Grant Billings of Steinway Piano Gallery of Naples stated that 80 percent of video viewers retain an astounding 95 percent of the information they see—presenting a powerful opportunity for music businesses. He covered this and much more during a NAMM U panel discussion on video storytelling with John Fowler of Shoreline Music and Will Mason of Mason Music. The common themes: Personal stories rule, and a good videographer is critical.

Watch the video to see each store’s examples, along with the full session. Here are highlights from the discussion.

Why did you decide to tell your story using video?
Mason: Intuitively, although we had no data to back it up, we felt that video had the power to engage on a web page. Video combines movement and music, and that’s what we’re here to sell.

Billings: When your wife started talking, it sent the message that it’s a family business. Having a student who’s also a parent talk about his connection with his child through lessons was also something that jumped out.

Mason: Be intentional about what kind of connection you want to make and what your goals are with the video. For us, as primarily a lesson business, we wanted to create the sense that you can trust us. We’re family.

Fowler: Anyone who’s running a small independent shop like ours fights an uphill battle against the online retail giants. The thing that sets us apart, and our fellow retailers, is that everyone has a story to tell. We knew that creating a video that showed who we are, what it’s like to be in our shop and help the viewer feel like they were sitting and talking with us would help set us apart.

What are your most important considerations when making a video?
Fowler: If your goal is to set yourself apart, it doesn’t do you any good to tell someone else’s story or copy someone else. It’s tempting to borrow on what someone else is doing, but it’s worth telling your own story.

Billings: Two to 3 minutes is enough to tell your story on video.

Mason: You have to have a goal and purpose. Sit down and talk to your team and ask what this video would help us with the most. We’ve done several videos with the same videographer for our website. [The videographer has] been helpful in figuring out the real story in what we’re trying to promote. In our lessons video, since that’s the core of who we are, we wanted to show the full scope of our lesson program, so it wasn’t just us [Mason and his wife, Sarah] telling the story. We also featured different perspectives from a teacher, our employee booking the lessons and from a customer/student point of view.

Fowler: A good videographer will help you tell your story, even if you have a different vision.

Is it critical for the store owner to tell his or her story on video?
Fowler: The owner is ultimately the heart and soul of your store, the one who casts the vision and whose fingerprints are on everything. It doesn’t matter how big or small your store is. There’s no other way to tell your personal, unique story if you want others to know who you are.

Mason: Having my wife and me on the video puts a face to the company and helps to make it human. When people are watching this video, they know it’s not just a business transaction to us.

Should you follow a script?
Billings: My videographer wrote all of the questions, and the end result was so much better than I expected.

Fowler: We didn’t follow a script. The videographer planned his questions and had a specific vision that differed from mine. At one point, he asked me to talk about my family, and I got emotional. He captured an important part of my story that was meaningful—playing music with my son. I hadn’t planned on that.

Mason: We had a script, but it wasn't rehearsed.

What’s a realistic budget?
Billings: Our budget was $3,500, and we stayed within that.

Mason: Ours was about the same, $2,000–$3,000. The videographers that we work with are on an annual retainer, and they also do photography for us at our events. We break that down to a monthly fee, so it’s not a big hit at once.

Fowler: We came in well within budget. We saved by helping with production. I feel like we got way more than our money’s worth.

Billings: I have potential customers who tell me they’ve watched the videos on my website, and I think that helps have a better relationship when they first come in the store. That’s hard to put a dollar value on.

What are your video success stories?
Mason: Our video builds familiarity with our brand on the front end. We posted it and promoted it on Facebook and YouTube, and it’s gotten almost 30,000 views, It gave people who’d heard of us but maybe hadn’t been in the store a picture of what we really do. We’ve had people come in and talk about the video and say they want to be involved with our store.

Fowler: We also have demo videos for guitars that we post on YouTube, and we have over a million views. Every day, I pick up the phone, and someone says, “You must be John. I’ve seen your video.” The nice thing is that they didn’t just see one video. They’ve seen them all.

What are your words of caution?
Mason: Planning is important. If you’re going to invest, you need to think about any hiccups, such as having lessons in the store during interviews. You also need to have student releases and parents sign.

Fowler: When you’re preparing a video, it’s tempting to make it shots of inventory, but that doesn’t tell anyone anything about who you are.