Retailers who have the marketing sense to understand customer needs, devise a game plan and execute against it should certainly find some level of success, states Richard Ngo-Tran.

It’s often said that common sense is not all that common, but why shouldn’t it be when it comes to marketing? The basics of marketing really just boil down to clearly understanding the target audience and having a little bit of common sense in terms of reaching them. Within MI, if we evaluate the parameters around how retailers sell, and we analyze the attributes surrounding how customers consume, then the path to driving engagement and conversions becomes much clearer.

As our industry navigates these unprecedented times, from the retailer to its consumers, the areas of interest across both parties that seem to remain constant are the need for visibility, relevancy and engagement. Whether it’s the customer’s lack of know-how, their limited resources or the delayed fulfillment of a need that has simply been put on the backburner for too long, retailers who have the marketing sense to understand these needs, devise a game plan, and execute against it should find some level of success.

Product Is King

As a retailer, the core business is in fulfilling a customer need. It may sound basic, but it’s imperative that products being carried and offered are in direct alignment with the needs of the audience. In other words, marketing a product to a customer who has little need for it is useless, and so product is king. Presenting the proper product mix is important on several fronts. Brand affinity is built between the retailer and customer, creating a sense of trust and loyalty because customers feel like that specific retailer understands their needs. Tailoring product selection to the customer’s specific needs also allows the retailer to maintain a smaller product mix, resulting in reduced inventory and less overall risk.

Take, for example, online catalog retailer Pro Sound & Stage Lighting, aka PSSL. This retailer is focused solely on the DJ, live sound and event producer market. Most importantly, it has a pulse on this market in regard to trends, applications and new technology. When PSSL saw a shift in the customer landscape in how DJs were performing, it adjusted its product focus by defining the most efficient use case products and loading in just those SKUs. It also worked with specific manufacturers to either co-create products and/or secure exclusive product launches with a manufacturer to stay ahead of the customer curve.

Content Is Everything

Unlike most other industries, the nature of the MI industry is creative-centric, and the target audience is typically a musician or a producer. This means hands-on product demonstrations and touchpoints are a large part of the sales process. With this in-person component currently being fairly volatile due to retail restrictions changing by the day, having compelling and impactful digital content is everything. Creating regular, consistent and impactful content is key to capturing the attention of customers. Whether it’s unboxing experiences, product tutorials, user testimonials or just quality glamour images, retailers have plenty of opportunity to create content themselves.

With today’s smartphone advancements, content can easily be produced with the help of cost-effective accessories like those from Movo, a manufacturer of equipment and tools for content creators specializing in high-quality, affordable solutions. Products like Movo’s smartphone video kits provide users the ability to mount their smartphone to a tripod stand or a handheld grip for stability, while integrating with a high-quality video microphone that plugs directly into the phone to record. Basic content can easily be created in-house, but retailers can also lean on brand manufacturers for content, which most, if not all, are consistently developing these days.

Engage Creatively

The element of engagement is key to connecting with customers and driving conversions. However, engagement is probably the most difficult of the marketing components presented here, since it can be ambiguous and highly subjective. Creatively approaching ways to engage with a customer begins with understanding everything about the target audience: where they live/play, and how/why they consume. These engagement points then allow for the creative development of marketing programs to reach that customer in their own environment, whether it’s a contest or sweepstakes, an educational content platform or business growth webinar, etc.

Although they’re a massive operation with endless resources, Sweetwater comes to mind as a retailer with a ton of creative engagement energy. Some of its activities include a monthly product giveaway sweepstakes, demo deals featuring daily discounts, a social hashtag campaign called #NewGearDay to drive customer posts, and InSync, Sweetwater’s product-driven newsletter focused on news, reviews and tips. Boutique retailers with limited resources can draw from some of these efforts and explore applicable efforts on a smaller scale. What’s important is having the motivation to explore new options and a consistent execution effort.

Brand Partnerships

Through the years, it’s clear that the MI industry is a strong community — very strong. Competing brands are generally friendly among each other, manufacturers and distributors work hand-in-hand with retailers, and The NAMM Show resembles a high school reunion of sorts that takes place annually instead of every decade. Brand manufacturers are eager to partner with retailers, and so exploring co-marketing opportunities is extremely advantageous. Instead of viewing comarketing efforts with brands as a potential profit center, viewing these opportunities as mutually beneficial strategies will go a long way, in terms of both sell-through and brand relations.

Boutique manufacturers such as Audeze, a technology company that engineers advanced audio solutions, is a good example of a diverse brand partner. With a lean operation, the brand is able to make quick marketing decisions, as well as being nimble when it comes to impromptu adjustments. Its technology-driven brand provides a solid foundation for creative content, while its strong network of users, such as multi-Grammy-award-winning mix engineer Manny Marroquin, provides a backdrop for a wide range of unique talent-led opportunities.

Leveraging these types of brand partner resources maximizes a retailer’s customer reach. It all comes down to some basic marketing sense, whether you’re drawing on in-house or outsourced resources. Between carrying the
proper products, developing compelling content, creatively engaging customers and leveraging brand partners, retailers can find success in almost any social or economic environment.

To read more columns from the Music & Sound Retailer, click here.

No more articles