July 25, 2022 I by Drew Holmes

How I Pivoted, Part 2

On a Wednesday morning in early January 2021, I was at The Mayor of Old Town, a popular beer bar in Fort Collins, Colorado, the same town where I run my dealership Boomer Music. I was recording behind-the-scenes footage for a video I had not yet made. As I mapped out what I was going to say, two thoughts occurred to me: One, I had never created a video this ambitious before. And two, if this does not work, there was no plan B.

After we finished recording the how-we-did-it footage, we moved to the bar for the actual shoot. The idea was to create a cooking show highlighting the fare at The Mayor and Tory, the owner, who was preparing to demonstrate two of his signature recipes.

I asked him if he wanted to be solo in the shoot or have me featured as well.

“You can be in it!” he replied.

Great. Now things were really complicated.

So, why was the owner of a brick-and-mortar retail music store at a bar in the middle of the week hosting a cooking show? Some would call it a pivot. I call it playing the cards I have, not necessarily the ones I want.

Thinking Outside the Box
During the summer of 2020, the Colorado Music Educators Association (CMEA) announced that due to COVID concerns, the upcoming January conference was going virtual. This had been a successful show for my store to network and stay in touch with our music educator friends, but instead of three in-person days to connect, we were going to be limited to a one-hour session on one evening — right smack in the middle of dinnertime.

The obvious problem was: How do we inspire someone who has been staring at a screen all day to stare a bit longer, especially during mealtime? The obvious answer? Make a cooking show.

Despite the complexity of the shoot and my relative lack of experience with video editing, I knew we could make videos that were engaging.

Instead of attempting to adapt our usual in-person booth to the virtual conference, we ignored retail music store content altogether and focused on entertaining. We recorded two cooking shows, releasing one ahead of the conference as a teaser and premiered the other during our virtual vendor showcase. Following the featured presentation, we showed the behind-the-scenes video to make the case that creating engaging content was not only attainable but necessary, especially for remote teachers and regardless of experience.

That night we captured a significant portion of the audience and used the event as a springboard to build the mailing list for our e-newsletter. By not letting perfection become the enemy of good, we engaged with our audience in a new way and gained valuable video content creation skills that we continue to use today for our YouTube channels, such as videos that include product features covering the three W’s (What is it? Why is it cool? Why do I need one?), instructional presentations on implementing specific concepts and techniques, and behind-the-scenes footage of goings on at the store. I sum up the week’s content in my Sunday Weekend Update videos, which I then feed into the e-newsletter that’s in my subscribers’ inboxes every Monday morning.

Consistent contact with our audience keeps us in their minds, which has paid huge dividends, for example, in our semi-annual step-up instrument events. When we send postcards and emails promoting the event, it’s from a friend with an ongoing relationship, not someone who only calls twice a year.

Customers buy from people they know, like and trust. Recording a cooking show in a bar made me rethink how I engage with my audience and opened the door to a skill set I never knew I needed but am now thankful every day I have. MI

Drew Holmes is the owner of Boomer Music Company, ThePodcastingStore.com and DrumsWest.com. He is based in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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