Powerhouse Promotions That Drive Sales and Traffic
Small music retailers don’t need big promotional budgets to become the go-to store in the community. At The 2017 NAMM Show, Tim Spicer of Spicer’s Music shared how promotions have driven his business forward and, in just four years, earned Spicer’s Music an Alabama Small Business of the Year designation.
Here are his four promotional power tips to build loyal customers and drive sales and traffic.
1. Host events.
Spicer’s Music has four in-store events per month, and many of them are different. Examples:
• Open mic night. This is Spicer’s most successful event. Spicer’s hosts open mics monthly, and they’re open to the community and all ages. Sometimes on a slow night, 30–40 people will come in the store.
• Vintage musicians. Have a jam session once a month geared toward retirees. “It’s the gear that’s vintage, not the people,” Spicer said. He recommended keeping the event free and providing coffee and snacks. Spicer’s has earned loyal customers with this jam session, and many of these customers send their grandchildren to the store.
• Fall kick-off party.
• Clinics and retail events.
• Birthday or surprise party. Have a birthday party for the store. Spicer’s reached out to vendors for small giveaways and spent $25 on decorations.
• Jam sessions. It’s worth hosting these all the time, according to Spicer. Hold a College Jam Night, especially if you operate in a college town. (Spicer’s offer free wings as snacks.) Have Gospel, Blues or Jazz Jam Nights—cater to different genres and styles of music to attract as many different customers as you can.
• Youth Jam Night/Pizza Night. Spicer’s charges a few dollars at the door for this event to cover costs. It’s hosted during the summer, and kids are divided into bands, so it functions as a mini rock camp. Kids get to play music with their friends, meet new people and end up coming back.
2. Focus on community engagement.
This might be an overused term, but Spicer said it’s the single most important thing he does. “We want our community to embrace us, and we want to better our community,” he explained. “We want our store to be wrapped around the community.”
• Lean on the Chamber of Commerce, tourism bureau and city leaders. Get to know them, invite them to your events and ask for their advice.
• Get acquainted with other local businesses.
• Get involved in city events. Figure out how you can market through them, by supplying music instrument and audio equipment rentals.
• Connect with houses of worship. Hold a worship leader meet-and-greet.
• Restaurants and venues. Figure out what they’re doing and collaborate with them. Build relationships with the venues, so they come to you when they need new systems, and build new customer bases.
• Schools. Go into schools and offer free music classes. Call the teachers (not just music teachers) and the principals, and introduce yourself. Let them know you want to teach music to a class, free of charge. Do classroom music petting zoos or bring ukuleles. Don’t try to sell them. These children become long-term customers, generation after generation.
3. Create a street team.
Build a group of people from all ages and demographics who spread out in your town and community and sell your store’s name.
• The bigger, the better. The more brand ambassadors you have on-board, the more people you can reach.
• Be selective (quality versus quantity). You want people who are well-spoken and will serve as good representatives for your store.
• Make it fun and attractive—create a brand army. People will want to get involved.
Spicer shared that his company has gone to each fraternity and sorority (chapter meetings) in town. He pays students a commission on how many people they bring to the store. Some street team members are paid hourly and might go to local bars and clubs. Get parents involved, and go to their groups, such as the Lions Club.
4. Participate in Make Music Day.
This can generate huge publicity for a music retail business. Different towns and cities around the world form jam sessions and spread the love of music.
• Make Music Alabama. Spicer took the Make Music Day idea and adapted it for his community. In 2016, 35 cities participated in Make Music Day across the United States, but no one was hosting an event in Alabama. So, Spicer’s Music went big and attempted to break a record for the largest rock ’n’ roll band. People came from all over the state and even from other states to participate. Spicer’s got a ton of free advertising and brought the community together. Participants sang “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, which ended up sharing the video.
“If I could sum everything up in one sentence, I would say: Be everywhere,” Spicer said.