According to data and statistics based on the Consumer Price Index from the U.S. Bureau of Data (and reported on in2013dollars.com), musical instruments and accessory pricing averaged an inflationary rate of .46% vs 2.4% since 1997. Your musical instrument investment dollars went much higher during the last 25 years.
However, the global supply chain challenges, along with the rising costs of inflation, goods, and labor will undoubtedly make the cost of musical instruments increase. Assuming prices were to stabilize, today’s economy may prevent or delay people from making a significant investment or purchase of an instrument, such as a new woodwind.
If you own a music store or any other type of instrument sale business, you may be feeling this pinch. But don’t panic. We have some results-oriented strategies to increase sales, without cutting into your profits or cash flow.
Everyone likes discounts on items, but we would prefer value and quality over price. We understand that paying a premium for quality items is a given, but will such investment provide a long-term return for our money? The quality of an instrument and the pleasure of playing it may nourish us personally. But how do we overcome any financial issues or other risk?
No one buys a vehicle without a warranty. Or rather, no one would ever buy any vehicle without a warranty. The pricier a car, the better a warranty. Including additional values added to the warranty such as free oil changes, complimentary fluid checks, and replacements, etc.
The same goes for musical instruments, which usually come with a one- or two-year warranty. So why not take the added step and offer some extras such as complimentary visual inspections or tune-ups every three months? We are avoiding the use of the word “free” here, since it may imply something of lesser value, or something that can be given away. Using the term ‘complimentary,” implies a value add that won’t require additional out-of-pocket costs.
After the expiration of a warranty, you can also offer complimentary repairs. Alternatively, you can also offer discounted future repairs for your most loyal customers. If you have an onsite repair tech, you would have to cover the costs on your own, or do it yourself. For example, Lisa’s Clarinet Shop offers comprehensive woodwind repair classes. As an added value in providing onsite repairs, you can service your own instruments.
Implementing a loyalty program can also add value to your customers—similar to a grocery store that provides an automatic discount on products when you key in your telephone number. Whenever someone purchases a new instrument, instantly sign them up for a loyalty program. When correctly implemented, loyalty programs can attract long-term repeat buyers, along with brand advocates. Your ROI for anyone posting positive reviews about you online will greatly increase both revenues, and new customers.
What if your customers have maxed out their purchases?
Instruments, accessories, stands, sheet music, etc. Some customers go all out when shopping. But the value of a loyalty program will increase the lifecycle of additional purchases, even if it cuts into your margins initially. But don’t despair as you will more than make up for this in future revenues if your high level of service and loyalty programs attracts a plethora of new customers.
Your loyalty program can also offer access to online instructional videos and other complimentary “how-to’s.” In previous articles, we shared the significance of social media marketing and building a library of video content. New and existing customers can easily access these exclusive, member-only platforms. There are many video sharing platforms that are only accessible via password, such as Vimeo or WordPress plugins. You could also host invite-only VIP jam sessions or workshops. There are a limitless number of ways to add value and keep your customers engaged.
Another suggestion may be old-school but adds value with a personalized approach. Simply call you’re your customers. While emails and texts are great, nothing beats real-live human interaction. Whenever someone makes a purchase, automate the process of setting a 6-month reminder to call them. Whether you speak with them live, or simply leave a message. Let them know that you are checking in to see how they are enjoying their instrument. Perhaps offer them a complimentary inspection. Or, simply let them know about some musical events that are happening they may be interested in. If your customer ever makes a decision that he no longer wishes to play, offer to sell his instrument on consignment and realize some additional revenues.
Acquiring new customers starts with adding value. This also increases future business, referrals, and other complimentary revenue streams. Especially if the economy is challenging or other competitors pop up. Hence, offering superior after purchase support is priceless.