Being in the music industry tends to be a feel-good life. We get up each day, visit with musicians and talk to great people, and we are usually tagged, at one time or another, as a “cool dude” simply by virtue of our jobs. As great as all that is, store owners also recognize the downside of being in the music business. This includes paying the bills, hiring and firing, and just tending to the seemingly endless flotsam and jetsam of life in a music store.
There’s also another downside to this business that I think we all eventually encounter. After a period of time, we’ve seen so much and we’ve learned so many tricks of the trade that we end up becoming jaded. Few people in our industry won’t recognize the word “jaded,” but, just in case you’re one of the store owners who find it a novel term, I’m referring to that feeling of being tired, bored or lacking in enthusiasm, typically stemming from having had too much of something.
Ahhh…diminished enthusiasm. It’s a common affliction, especially after several years or decades in the business. There’s good news, though. If you’ve become jaded and you’d like to rekindle that old spark, there is hope. Let’s look at some of the ways old dogs like us can learn some new tricks.
First, accept that, even though you’ve seen a lot, you haven’t seen it all. Every month, there’s a new wrinkle in the industry fabric. If you don’t stay plugged in, then you’re trying to operate off of old information; if you don’t get back on top of what’s new, then your business will suffer. While you’re not paying attention, your customers are devouring product information on the Internet and in magazines. That makes them more product-current than you are. When your customers know more about current products than you do, that’s bad for business.
Some strategies for getting back on top of what’s happening in our industry are obvious. Choosing to attend the next NAMM Show is a good start. And, when you get there, don’t spend all your show time yukking it up with your old buddies. Stop at every booth you can. Stop at booths with which you don’t do business. Stop at booths with products even sort of related to what you sell. That’s how you find the new information you can turn into profit.
Read the trade journals. Yes, all of them. Yes, every month. Once or twice a week, try to slip off to eat lunch and take a trade journal with you. As you dine, read every article and ad that’s related to what you sell. If you see an article and think, “Oh, I already know all about that,” read that article first. What you learn might remind you that you don’t know everything. If you read an article that speaks to you—one with ideas you can use—then tear out that article. Put it in a folder and, when you need to renew the spark, pull out that folder.
Read the e-mails that you usually delete out of hand. Not the spam e-mails but, rather, the e-mails from your suppliers. Open them, and read the whole thing. It might be just a sales notice for some products you don’t stock, but you might find some value hidden in those e-mails. I opened one from a longtime supplier and, at the bottom, the company linked to its YouTube channel. I know all about the products, and I buy from them without being lured by an e-mail. However, I found out the company has a YouTube channel. I’ve been told before that they have a channel, but I didn’t follow the link until that moment. BAM! I found all sorts of cool, useful videos I can link to on my Web site and my Facebook page. I even discovered a couple of products I ought to be stocking. Instant site content, at no cost to me, is a good thing.
Find some sales gurus. They’re full of ideas that work. They know what’s been tried, what’s worked and what hasn’t. They talk to retailers in other industries, and they’re fountains of knowledge. Use their knowledge to learn a new approach to retail, marketing, merchandising, etc. It’s a great investment, in terms of both time and money. They do the legwork, while you reap the knowledge. There are many out there, but start with gurus like Bob Negen of WhizBang! Training. He led the first-ever NAMM Retail Boot Camp, and he has compiled several lifetimes’ worth of retail methods that work. He has a free newsletter to which you can subscribe, as well as a paid course. An MI friend of mine took the course and it improved his bottom line. Also, look up Samantha English, an e-mail/Facebook retail wizard. She does free webinars full of tools and ideas that will help your marketing efforts. (She has a paid course, as well.) Those are just two that I’m familiar with; others are out there, too.
Follow other stores on Facebook and read their Web sites to mine new ideas from the vast sea of free information. Visit the Remo site and learn how to put together a drum circle. Schedule a special event, such as a parking lot sale. Or, you could use Facebook to have a two-hour sale. Do something new! Shaking things up, even a little, can be exciting.
We all get a tad stale from time to time. The trick is not to let stale become jaded. Just as there’s always something new in our industry, there’s always something new you can do at the store. Find the old spark and start to revive it. Reading your e-mails and the trade magazines, talking to other retailers and going to the NAMM Show are all good starting points to revive the spark. Seeing new money in the till and new customers in the store will be proof that the old spark is back.
Good selling to you, my friends.