By Gene Fresco

When I was training to be a manufacturer’s rep for Ampeg amps, I traveled with the rep for California, whom, by the way, I trained when he worked in retail with me. We went to Oakland to see a music dealer.

As we pulled up in front of the store, I saw lines of musicians nearly a block long. Some were carrying their instruments. Some were with their girlfriends.
I said to the Ampeg rep, “Boy, the dealer is doing great business.” He said, “No. He’s doing a promotion I gave him.” I asked, “What promotion is that?” He said, “I told him to get a photographer to take pictures of the bands in town for free.” Each band would get an 8×10 glossy that it could use to promote the band. Of course, they would all want some to send to club owners and give to fans, so the photographer could sell them more.

The dealer set up a stage in the store with all Ampeg amps, which, of course, the Ampeg rep had recommended that he do. The dealer got a copy free, framed them all and hung them in his store.

What did this do for the dealer? What did this do for the Ampeg rep? What did this do for the bands?

The dealer has pictures of nearly every band in town hanging on his walls, which gives the impression to future customers that his store is where the pros buy.

The Ampeg rep gets the exposure of professional bands playing Ampeg amps.

The bands get to give the impression to club owners and their fans that they are professionals.

This is a win-win-win situation.

One other benefit is the musicians will shop in that store forever and bring their musician buddies in to see their pictures hanging in that music store.

The photographer did pretty well, too!

This is just one way to keep your present customers.

Here are some other ways.

The Baker’s Dozen String Promotion: Have a punch card made with the store logo on it. Get a special puncher with a distinctive design. Punch the card each time the musician buys guitar strings or bass strings and, after he or she buys 12 sets, that person then will get the 13th set free. You can also do this with violins, cellos, banjos or even drum sticks.

Music Lesson Promotion: With regular lesson takers, you can arrange with your teachers that, four times a year, there will be no charge for a lesson. Don’t tell the student about this: Just have the teacher tell him or her that, for doing a great job, there will be no charge for the lesson. This will encourage the student to try harder and stay with the lessons, anticipating the next free one.

Free Breakfast Promotion: Once a month, have free breakfast for the bands after the clubs close. Set up a buffet and invite all musicians who want to come. This will help you develop a friendship with them and keep them buying their needs in your store.

Remember: People buy from people they like and people they need. Make sure your customer likes you and needs you.

Now, let’s turn to getting new customers….

Six Free Lessons Promotion: When having a sale, always offer six free lessons on whatever instrument a customer buys. Of course, he or she will want to continue in most cases, so you have sold an instrument and gained a new student.

Endorsee Promotion: I have traveled with dozens of professionals who endorsed the products I was representing. This is a really good way to get people in your store who are potential new musicians. Always have a special on the instrument that’s being endorsed. Mention that the endorsee will sign the instrument the customer buys.

Buy a Guitar and Get a Free Amp Promotion: Instead of offering a discount on an instrument, give the customer a free amp with it. If a customer buys a $500 guitar, you can easily give away a $150 amp for free and still make a decent profit. I have closed many a deal by saying, “Buy it today and I will give you a free $100 case.” Just find a way to give them something free to close the sale.

Free Microphones Promotion: When selling a sound system, I have closed many sales by giving the customer six free microphones. When selling to a church, I always closed a sale by offering the pastor a free wireless system for himself.

The Battle of the Bands Promotion: This is a tricky proposition, because you are going to have only one winner and perhaps dozens of losers. So, you must use judges who are not connected to your store. Club owners, radio disc jockeys, band directors…anyone except you or your personnel. It is probably best to have three prizes: first, second and third. You can get manufacturers to put up the prizes.

These are just some of the ways to get new customers and to keep old ones. You might brainstorm with your personnel on other ways to accomplish this.
Keeping in touch with your customers on at least a monthly basis is important and will keep them from going to other music stores to see what is available. A monthly contact with a blog…a sales notification…an instrument maintenance e-mail from your technicians: These are all good reasons to keep in touch with your customers.

If you have any questions or want to know other promotional ideas, feel free to e-mail Dan Ferrisi (; he will forward your comments directly to me.
I wish you good selling.

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