This is my first column in the Music and Sound Retailer, and I want to start out by being up front and honest. I’m a newbie, a greenhorn, a millennial. I’ve only been in the industry for five years, and I certainly don’t want to sound like I have all of the answers to life’s greatest business questions charted out. My goal is to write each column with a fresh approach to the industry, because, frankly, I haven’t been around long enough to know all of the ins and outs.
As we come out of what was hopefully the best fourth quarter our businesses have ever experienced, it’s time to start nailing down last-minute details for your enlightening, exciting and downright exhausting trip to Anaheim. If you don’t want your company to improve, then don’t worry about attending The NAMM Show. However, if you want to grow, you better get yourself to Anaheim this January. Let’s face it, if your business isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse.
I try to slow down before each show and take time to plan out my best attack. If I don’t, I’ve learned that I end the week overloaded with information and wondering how my feet got so sore. I try to focus on three key things as I prepare and plan: education, meetings and gear.
Between Retail Bootcamp, NAMM University Breakfast Sessions and NAMM U Idea Center Sessions, there are enough creative ideas to jump-start the entire music industry. What’s my approach? Attend everything. I suggest starting your trip by flying in a day early and grabbing a seat for the Retail Bootcamp. There are two engaging topics to decide between: financial management or sales, marketing and websites. If you are bringing staff, give them a pen and paper, some written goals, and park them for the day. There are some stimulating NAMM U Breakfast Sessions on futureproofing the music industry, how customers purchase and the always informative Breakfast of Champions. The NAMM Idea Sessions are packed full of helpful classes on topics like increasing lessons, social media advice and store design ideas. With an all-star lineup of industry leaders, there is something for everyone at the NAMM Idea Center sessions. A close friend of mine once said, “NAMM U is like eating a whole chicken. If you swallow the meat and spit out the bones, you can keep focused on the parts that will adhere to your business.” Without this mentality, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the information absorbed in such a short time.
My first few NAMM Shows left me in a blur. I went to almost every NAMM U event, met with every rep and walked the entire floor. Twice. I’ve since changed my approach, because honestly, I came back barely breathing. After reviewing the fast-paced week, I realized I should focus on things that can only happen while I’m physically at the show. Most ordering details, inventory reviews and product catalogs can be viewed electronically these days. It’s important to continue building positive relationships with your vendors and reps, but it is also important to get back to work Monday morning with new ideas and the energy to execute new plans.
One thing you can’t do electronically is pick up and touch new products. If you make time to engage your customers with your NAMM trips, you can channel the excitement of NAMM into real sales. Do you engage your regular customers through social media about NAMM? Do your customers even know what NAMM is? When I first started attending The NAMM Show, I promoted the trip heavily through all social media channels. After returning, I realized I needed to “train” my customers about NAMM and what to expect. Many actually thought I was attending a conference in Vietnam, which was pretty funny. This year, try engaging your customers more. Prior to the trip, create informative posts about NAMM and what you expect to get out of it. Use Facebook Live to get customer engagement while on the floor. Ask what they want to see and show off cool new products. Look for artist lineups and give your customers a sneak peek at the professional musicians that can be found walking around the floor. Once you return, create posts about what you learned and some changes you are implementing or new stock you are ordering.
The sensory overload experienced at The NAMM Show can be overwhelming, but with thoughtful planning, you can use the trip to implement fresh ideas, engage your customers and sell new products. The most important thing is to set goals for your trip and take steps to achieve them. To keep your sanity, I would suggest heading over to namm.org and downloading the NAMM mobile app. I’d love to hear your thoughts on The NAMM Show at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to seeing you in Anaheim!