The music store business has been in flux for a long time now. Some shops are finding new ways to succeed, while others have been stuck in neutral for a long time.
Music stores today are much like book shops a decade ago. Back then, online retailers, especially Amazon, were proving to be formidable competitors. Book stores that evolved to adapt to the new reality became more successful than ever. Those that didn’t ended up with “for rent” signs in their windows.
In this story, we’ll reveal the five things music stores should be doing right now to succeed. They’re based on what’s helping music and other retailers get ahead in the current environment. They’re proven ways to help your business win in 2022 and the years ahead.
1. Figure out what shoppers want right now.
Successful music store owners “get” what it is that their customers (and prospective ones) want and how they prefer to access those things. They constantly adjust their offerings based on evolving tastes and music trends, and they change how they make those things available, whether it’s in person or online.
Some things to consider:
- Are your instruments on trend? Do you offer the latest styles, models and colors, or is your inventory a little 1990? A great instrument will always be great, but much like clothing, instrument styles evolve over time. You have to keep up or your customers will move on to trendier suppliers.
- Are you leveraging influencers? Influencers are everywhere, promoting makeup, jewelry, foods, restaurants and more. Anything that’s available for sale is being pushed by influencers. People act on their recommendations every day. Why not do the same with your music store offerings? You don’t need to hire a Kardashian to promote your pianos. Simply find someone that the musicians in your target audience look up to. It may be a local rapper, a church choir soloist or the leader of a great college band. Trade them a little influencer love for some free promotion on social media, mentions in blog articles, or a complimentary instrument.
- Do you listen to the latest music? If you do, you’re hearing the instruments shoppers want now. When guitar rock gets hot, guitar sales heat up and electronic instrument sales tank. Keep listening to “hear” the future of your inventory.
- Do you expect customers to come to you? It’s not going to happen anymore. Open an online shop on Amazon. Sell your wares at street fairs and music festivals. Sponsor a popular local music venue. Figure out where your customers are and meet them where they’re at.
Your customers don’t need you. You need them. That’s why it’s critical for you to figure out what they want now — and how you can deliver.
2. Up your in-store game.
Remember when book stores just sold books and department stores just sold clothing? That was a long time ago!
Book stores today are likely to sponsor poetry readings, book club meetings and seminars on subjects like cooking, travel, and sports. It’s all in an effort to become central to their communities in order to drive traffic.
Department stores offer cocktails, sponsor DJ nights and bring in sports stars and celebrities. It’s all about making the retail experience more interactive and getting people to hang out longer and eventually buy things.
So what can your store do to become more community centric and experiential? Consider:
- Demonstrating what your instruments can do by sponsoring concerts or shows. An instrument that’s played is much more powerful than one that’s merely displayed.
- Bringing in a local music celebrity. Having an event featuring them will introduce your store to their fans, bringing in a new audience.
- Staying connected every day. Social media is a low-cost and easy way to connect with the musicians in your area and become a part of their daily routine. By simply sharing valuable content with them, your shop will become a central part of their everyday lives, keeping you top of mind when it comes time to buy.
3. Make it easy.
The pandemic changed everything. Businesses made it easy to shop online and provided almost instant delivery, curbside pickup, and extraordinary customer service throughout the shopping process.
Are you doing the same?
Consumers won’t turn off what they’ve become used to in all other aspects of their lives just to shop with you.
If you haven’t updated your consumer experience in the last couple of years, it’s high time you did. Work with the people on your team to find ways to make doing business with you better and easier. Or, if this isn’t something you feel confident about doing, hire a marketing agency to help you out. It could be the best investment you make in 2022, and the only way you’ll make it to 2023.
4. Be known for something!
When current and prospective customers think about you, what comes to mind?
If it’s nothing specific, it’s time to make a change and brand your shop.
- Are you the music store for the jazz musicians in your area?
- Perhaps you’re the place parents turn to when it comes time to introduce their kids to music.
- Maybe you’re the go-to spot for rockers and rappers.
Figure out what makes your business better than — and different from — your competitors and make it your brand. You may lose some customers when you’re no longer a “generic” music business, but you’ll gain a whole lot more when you claim your space.
5. Become welcoming to new customers.
Is your store a space where new customers feel welcome?
Many music shops have barriers to entry that they aren’t aware they’ve created.
- Do you only sell high-end guitars, and offer nothing for newbie strummers? It can be great to sell an expensive instrument every now and then, but it could be more valuable to sell someone their first affordable one and make them into a customer for life.
- Do you expect people to come to you and walk through your door? That takes more time — and bravery — than most people have these days. Make it easy for people to get to know — and do business with you — online and they’ll eventually be banging down your digital and real-world doors.
- Do you provide a comfortable place for people to enjoy each other’s company? Few people can handle the pressure of examining and “being sold” products. If you give them an easy place to try instruments out and have comfortable conversations — maybe with a great cup of coffee — the more likely they’ll make a purchase. Remember when book stores were sterile libraries that wouldn’t allow you to read books? They never sold any. Now that they’ve become reader-friendly coffee shops, they sell a lot.
Use these tips to take your music business to the next level in 2022 and the years ahead.
Need help getting there? Contact us for ideas on new things you can sell, services you can offer and ways to promote your shop that will resonate with people today.