July 21, 2020 I Next Gen Retailing I by Jeremy Payne

Time to Go Beyond

COVID-19 will one day be looked back upon as a pivotal period, one which changed the way the musical instruments industry, and the entire world, does business. If history is as good of an indicator now as it has been in the past during economic downturns and times of disarray, we can say with a high level of certainty that we’re not going to get back to the way things were pre-COVID-19 anytime soon. However, this shouldn’t be a reason to panic. It should be seen as an opportunity to adapt our businesses to better serve our customers.

We’ve been forced to start curbside pickups, virtual lessons, local deliveries, virtual rental programs and more. Some would argue that we’re late to the game in implementing these strategies into our businesses, but that’s neither here nor there. The next questions we should all be asking ourselves are, “What can we do to take these services to the next level?” and “How can we enhance the shopping and service experience for our customers better than our competition?”

As retailers, we must now be multi-faceted in our communications with customers.

Those of us who are looking forward will achieve a greater level of success than those looking backward. Furthermore, we’re not sure how long it will be until this pandemic fully subsides. It could be a month, six months, a year or more. Put your personal feelings aside and plan for the worst, while hoping for the best. As things play out, your efforts will become a healthy hybrid, and you will have set your business apart from your competition in the eyes of your customers. It has always been a priority for us to create a safe environment for our staff and customers. This is just a different version of that. So, go above and beyond local, state and federal requirements.

Communication is Key

While we all know the importance of communicating with our customers and suppliers, it’s now more vital to our success than ever during COVID-19. In the past, we’ve been able to depend on the fact that our customers would come in the store and we could get them up to speed on the latest and greatest. For many customers, the in-store shopping experience isn’t an option either because of local, state or federal restrictions or personal choice. So, we cannot depend too heavily on our walls of products to spread the joy of music. Just like we’ve learned from so many marketing professionals, one vehicle isn’t enough. We need to be able to effectively meet the communication wants and needs of our customers. This means we must effectively communicate by phone, various social media platforms, email, text messages and print. If you’re not fully committed to all methods and platforms, you may be missing the opportunity to communicate with a group of customers.

Brick-and-mortar isn’t dead. But, as retailers, we must now be multi-faceted in our communications with customers. With the need for a change in communication comes the need to embrace new technology. While many fear change, new technology is being embraced out of necessity. Customers typically averse to technology are embracing tools like Zoom at an unprecedented rate. If your customers are embracing it, your business should be, too. Find unique ways to keep in touch and share information with your customers using these tools.

NAMM YP is dedicated to sharing innovative thoughts and ideas that continue to pour in from our membership around the globe.

We’re here for all NAMM YP and NAMM members alike, so please do not hesitate to reach out to us – either our executive committee, which consists of Jeremy McQueary, Melissa Ceo and myself, or our board, which consists of Mark Despotakis, Nick Averwater, Jack Dring, Stephanie Murphy, Laura Penrose, Tim Spicer and Brandon Voorhees – through our contact information found at nammyp.com. MI

Jeremy Payne is brand director and national accounts manager at The Music People and NAMM Young Professionals’ vice president. NAMM YP, which consists of young professionals in the music industry, focuses on the betterment of future leaders by providing opportunities to connect, learn and grow from one another.

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