By Gene Fresco

The best way to increase your business is to increase your present demographics of customers.

Do you see the same old customers day in and day out?

Well, you are going to have to change that!

I am going to tell you how to do it.

When I was in the group teaching business, our accordion teacher got the bright idea to teach group lessons in retirement homes.

I went to a retirement community with him and spoke to the Manager. We told him what we had in mind. He said that the accordion would be too heavy for most of his residents, and he didn’t think they could manage playing them. I agreed with him. But, luckily, we had been shown a melodica by one of our suppliers the week before. (This was before Casios and other small electronic pianos.)

I could have suggested guitars or ukuleles, but, because it was the accordion teacher’s idea, I mentioned the melodica. I asked him if my teacher and I could put on a demonstration at the retirement center to show him what I meant. He agreed, so my teacher and I worked up a duet to do for the residents. I played the melodica and he played the accordion.

Well, we were a hit! One of the residents, a gentleman of about 70, met with us and said he was a piano teacher and he wanted to teach melodica to the residents. I turned to my accordion teacher and asked him whether he’d mind if this gentleman did that. He said, “OK.” (He didn’t really want to teach melodica.)
Over an 18-month period, we sold more than 90 melodicas to that retirement community. Just about every week, the piano teacher would order another one or two or three.

I tell you this story to show you that you must expand your mind to the possibilities out there.

There is a music store in my town that sells dozens of ukuleles to a little old lady who started ukulele classes in her retirement community.

You have to think outside the box: Eight to 80 ought to be your market.

Today, with the availability of electric pianos and, of course, guitars, ukuleles and many other instruments that seniors can handle, the possibilities are endless. There are 10,000 seniors retiring every day!

On the other end of the spectrum, there are eight-year-olds.

As some of you might know, I had 6,000 music students in Los Angeles, 1,200 in Reno NV and 1,200 in Las Vegas, so I know of what I speak.

I arranged with private schools to teach music lessons at their schools after classes. I would make a donation for the use of the classroom. Believe me…this was very rewarding.

Let’s look at all the other possibilities.

Because I was a rep for Sunn Electronics, I had to sell sound systems. I remember at a NAMM show when I was with Ampeg, someone said, “Did you see Sunn has a $25,000 sound system in their booth? Are they crazy?”

Well, a few months later, I was working for Sunn and, that year, I sold 12 $25,000 sound systems. I became a believer. I pioneered the idea of music stores selling sound systems. Believe me…there was great resistance.

Lucky for me (and sadly for musicians), disco hit in the ’70s and clubs were buying expensive sound systems, lighting systems and lighted dancefloors to bring in the customers. That is when I suggested to Sunn to come out with “Support Your Local Musician” bumper stickers.

Of course, disco came and went because there weren’t that many people who could dance to disco or who could afford the clothes they wore. When a new club would open with a bigger sound system and more lights, those people deserted their old disco club for the new one.

The good news was that musicians realized that they needed big sound systems to compete with disco.

That’s when music dealers realized they had to sell sound systems, and it made my job a lot easier.

This music business is bigger than you think!

Please open your mind and see the possibilities.

Have brainstorming meetings with your personnel and see what areas you are not in. Think of ways to get into these areas. I let the Yellow Pages give me ideas every day. Once, I made a list of sound system possibilities and came up with 500 groups to sell sound systems to. All I did was go through the Yellow Pages.

See how many churches are in your town. See how many arenas are in your town. See how many high schools and universities are in your town. See how many retirement homes are in your town. There is a list of everyone who might be a potential customer.

Open your eyes, open your mind and you will increase your potential customers by tenfold.

I enjoy selling whether the sale is large or small.

I was in a music store and a lady wanted to see kazoos.

I could see that the sales personnel weren’t too excited to help her. I said, “I will be glad to help you, ma’am.”

She told me she wanted to have a kazoo choir in her church, and she needed 36 kazoos.

I showed her a selection of kazoos and told her, “They cost $2.50 each.” She said, “I saw some at a dollar store for $1.00.”

I asked, “Were they made out of plastic?” I then explained, “These are made out of metal and have heavy-duty diaphragms. They would last a lot longer than plastic kazoos.”

She agreed and bought 36 kazoos. The retail personnel looked at me in amazement.

As I said, “I enjoy selling, whether the sale is large or small.”


I wish you good selling.

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