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Holiday Add-on Plan

Use your music lessons program to sell add-ons

When your music lesson students walk into class, they normally bring their instruments and nothing else. Your teachers and staff often have no idea what sort of gear the students need. How many trumpet students have played a Miles Davis classic but never used a mute? How many guitar students have learned "Hotel California" but never touched a 12-string guitar? How many have never even plugged into a stomp box? (Maybe that's why your effects sales are down.)

How many don't have a tuner, capo or even a music stand? And what about your woodwind students? Are they playing on an inferior mouthpiece setup? More of them are than you think.
Don't wait for your students to discover gear on their own. If they find out about it somewhere else, chances are they will purchase it there.

Students usually come to their lessons, teachers do their thing and the students go home. Teachers don't spend time on gear talk, most likely because they figure sales staff will handle it. However, your sales staff isn't talking to students because they assume teachers will talk gear. Not a good scenario for fourth-quarter sales.

Survey Says ...
Here's a solution. Create a student gear survey. You and your staff can ask students, using a form, what they own. You won't know what they need until you find out what they already have. When you design your form, use open-ended questions for part of it and a checklist for the rest.
A sample gear survey for guitarists should ask what kind of guitar they play, as well as what kind of amps and effects they use. The checklist should include such add-ons as tuners, capos, cables and cases. For band instrument students, you can ask what brand of instrument they play, along with what mouthpieces, mutes, stands and cleaning supplies they own.

Tweak this form to your store's specifications, and use the data to help develop a buying plan for your holiday accessory sales. If you have 50 guitar students who don't have capos, buy 20 to sell to them.
Use these lists to develop your accessory marketing for the holidays. Creating a top-10 list of products that guitarists should have is great to handout for your students.

Also, make a video of why capos are cool, and have one of your guitar teachers play parts of some popular capo tunes, such as "Here Comes The Sun." Post these videos on YouTube, and play them in-store. Give each teacher a capo for his or her students to try. In fact, do that for all the items on your top-10 list.

Don't forget about print music. Your students and teachers may not know what you have in stock. If they're working on improvisation, make sure you have a print product for that.

E-mail your students' parents a list of what their children could use to enhance their learning experience, and put a great-gift-ideas-for-the-holidays spin on it.

Remember: The only way to know what products you need to stock is to talk with the customers who use them most, the students. So start introducing them to the vast and wild world of add-ons. Otherwise, they'll buy their gear where they discover it. MI

Pete Gamber is a 35-year veteran of music retailing and music lessons. He specializes in music lesson programs and music retail consulting. Email him at: