June 26, 2021 I The Marketing Guru I by Tracy Hoeft

The Path Back Together

Stores are reopening, lockdowns are easing, and we will come together as an industry for the first time in 18 months in Nashville, Tennessee, for Summer NAMM. No, this will not be just another Summer NAMM and most things remain far from normal, but we are now on a more clear path to the next normal. What will that mean to your business? What should we all plan for?

The New Customer Divide

As you prepare for the times ahead, you need to be ready for two types of customers with very different needs and expectations. There are those that are ready to rush back to life as it was and others that will continue to alter their lifestyle based on ongoing concerns over COVID-19. If you want to continue to connect with 100% of your potential customers, you will need to plan to speak to both of these groups.

The Roaring 2020s Customer

After over a year of us all having severe limits on what we can do, we are all ready to escape the virtual world of our phones and computers and get back to the real world. A large group of your customers are anxious to get out and do things. Will you be one of those things?

Smart retailers will position themselves in the middle of their customers, who are looking for things to do in the real world. Most of your local customers have not had the chance to get out and be around other musicians and cool music gear in over a year. They have not gotten their hands on the products launched in 2020, much less all the new stuff already launched this year. Be the place where musicians in your area go to reconnect.

Use email and other marketing methods to invite people to come in and get back to the gear. Connect emotionally with your customers. This is not the time to focus on product specs and special pricing — that totally misses where your customers’ heads are. Your customers want to get back to the gear and are looking to reconnect with other musicians, so make sure you lead with that. Position your store as the ideal place to get back to the musician life.

The e-Customer

Lockdowns forced us all to be more open to purchasing things online. As you prepare for the next chapter, make sure that your business continues to give your customers what they want as it relates to convenience. This will be critical for your customers who are not ready to return to non-essential retail shopping due to remaining concerns, but could also apply to all of your customers.

Most experts predict that a portion of the increase in online sales during the pandemic will stay online as we settle into the next normal. Make sure you are continuing your offerings online and evolving your ability to grow your e-commerce sales. You can also expect customers to demand more options that they got a taste of during lockdowns. One example is BOPUS: Buy Online, Pick Up in Store. Many retailers pivoted to quickly add this during lockdowns, viewing it as a temporary offering. Indications now show that consumers will want to continue to have

options like this. Will you offer this to your customers to make sure that you are the best place for them to buy?

Winning The Next Normal

We are all tired of adapting to unexpected and unprecedented changes. But for business, this next chapter really does present an opportunity to reset and win. Will you position your business central to your customer’s journey in the next normal or allow your store to get left behind? For those customers looking to get out and enjoy some retail therapy, will you be the one to invite them in? Will you be what they remember fondly as a key indication of their return to normal?

The second half of 2021 will bring new challenges, more adjustments and new opportunities. I hope that you will commit to being there for your customers — wherever their there is — so that you are positioned for success in the next normal. MI

Tracy Hoeft is the president of Amplify 11, a marketing firm specializing in the musical instrument industry.

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