TECHNOLOGY I BY GORDON O’HARA
Take the Inertia Out
of Piano Marketing
Are you suffering from piano marketing inertia? Look for these warning signs: strictly using newspaper advertising, lots of blowout events, a flat series of Web pages and discouraging in-store traffic.
Break piano marketing inertia by reallocating a portion of your media budget to more extensive Internet activities. But, you’re thinking, “Sell pianos on the Web? Who would buy them there?”
There has been a major shift in your customers’ media habits. More than 72 percent of prospects use the Internet at some point during the piano-purchasing process. They research products, obtain opinions and compare pricing.
You can reach and capture those customers with correct product presentations; fresh, compelling Web content; lead development; networking; and online lead tracking.
Start With Product
Present pictures and descriptions of every new piano you carry on your Web site. Links to manufacturers’ sites are a start, but realize that piano shoppers will find other dealers at those sites, too. You’re likely to lose potential buyers. That’s why I recommend importing the actual product data to your site or using a service that offers the updated pictures and descriptions at your Web address. You can present the MSRPs or, if the supplier objects to that, present the catalogs with a request-information form. That way, people can get more details about that particular piano model.
Don’t overlook accessories and books. The piano lamp or method book buyer today is your best prospect for a piano sale tomorrow. If you don’t want to manage fulfillment of these products, outsource it, accept the lower margins and develop a long-term lead for a piano sale.
Pre-owned pianos offer an opportunity to showcase your restoration capabilities, provide different price points and earn above-average margins. So, feature these in a special section. Provide multiple photographs or “walk around” videos. How about an interview with the technicians who restored the pianos? This builds the prospect’s trust in your used products.
Will people add a piano to a shopping cart? You would be surprised how many might. Make sure you also offer a pay-online function, so people can place deposits to hold floor models, request special orders, and pay for repairs and deliveries.
Keep Prospects Engaged
On average, it takes 4–8 months to sell a piano. In today’s market, this period can be longer. Your challenge is to maintain the customer’s interest during the shopping experience.
Make sure to update your site content frequently. Give customers reasons to visit your site often throughout their decision-making process. Provide new information and rotate products, promote store events and specials, and add links to manufacturer videos or your own.
Showcase your expertise by providing sales staff profiles and their product recommendations. Discuss services, such as repairs, moving, tuning and restoration. Promote your music lessons program, and show success stories from current clients. Promote community and music events. This information will help make your site an interesting place for prospects to return to again and again.
Generate and Follow-Up Leads
Your Web site can also help you capture and follow-up on leads. In its simplest form, people can sign up for e-newsletters or request a “contact us” e-mail. However, to break out of piano marketing inertia, you can do much more than that.
Every product should have a link to a request-information form. Here the customer simply enters his or her contact information, which, along with the pre-filled model number, can be transmitted directly to your staff for immediate follow-up. This changes the entire customer experience. Instead of being sold to, prospects are recipients of your expert advice and consultation. Talk about getting the prospect on your side of the table!
One main follow-up to leads is to send e-newsletters — at least monthly. Make them short with links back to your site for updates on new models, invitations to recitals, information on lessons, and sale and event announcements.
A personalized e-mail from each salesperson with specific links for that customer reinforces the salesperson’s expertise and reaches prospects online.
Don’t Overlook Online Networking
Can you sell pianos and organs using social networking? Absolutely.
The key is to take what you’ve been doing in person for years and move that to the Web. More and more professionals use LinkedIn to connect with business contacts. Make sure your store has an account and invites clients and prospects to join it. You can then communicate with your contacts about new models and upgrades.
Is your store on Facebook or MySpace? They’re not just for young adults — who are very important to reach since they influence parents to buy. Facebook, in particular, has also become a key networking choice for parents and professionals.
Use these social networks to help fellow players connect with each other and promote your staff members’ recommendations and insights. You can even develop programs exclusively for your Facebook and MySpace audiences.
Twitter? Sure. Have prospects and customers sign up for your “Tweets,” and send them short updates on events you support in the community, such as upcoming symphony performances, recitals and concerts. It’s low-key and effective.
Track Leads Online
In many stores, salespeople manage their leads on their own computers. Upgrade, and consider a Web-based system to manage leads so that multiple salespeople and managers can view the same files simultaneously. Employees can easily access the information via the Internet on Blackberries, PDAs and laptops wherever they are. You can sort leads by various categories, sales assignments, follow-up dates and so forth.
These ideas are just the start. Your customers are out there. Only piano marketing inertia will prevent you from reaching them. MI