There are so many ways to disseminate information today, at times it’s mind boggling. Mixed media messaging comes at sales reps, resellers, and consumers in a dizzying array of forms, to the point where information overload risks causing a decision-making lock up. What I mean by that is an extension of “paralysis by analysis,” but perhaps a bit different in that the sheer volume of offers, adverts, emails, texts, phone solicitation and much more are creating a disturbing moment of indecision. Add to this a somewhat lackluster market for musical instruments, and you have the makings of a good debate. What is the best way to cut through the clutter?
Welcome to Black Friday
Let’s jump in the Wayback Machine, when Black Friday was the traditional kick-off to the Holiday Selling Season, and for the most part no one jumped the gun. Today terms like “Black November” are bandied about, because of earlier discounting, and near month-long promotion. The Friday after Thanksgiving remains a big day for shoppers, and post-COVID hopefully the return to retail stores will occur. “Small Business Saturday” implores customers to support local businesses, many who have struggled with the increase of online shopping combined with the pandemic keeping people buying from home on their desktop computers, tablets, or phones. One must wonder how much gas is left in the tank if the heavy discounting starts so early, or this year are consumers still suffering from lack of discretionary income, and biding their time for the best, last-minute deals.
The Dilemma for Suppliers and Distributors
With all the noise and literally thousands of mark downs, scan backs, MAP Holidays, discount deals and consumer-facing promotions, how do Musical Instrument and Pro Audio manufacturers make sure their message is being heard? My observation recently is that some retailers are simply overloaded and cannot effectively process the array of materials being sent to them to utilize to support vendor sales initiatives. Some suppliers are choosing to stay out of the fray, feeling that it’s not wise to jump into the smoke of the retail battlefield, opting instead to hold fast to their product’s value proposition and loyalty of their end users. In either case, you have a whole lot of noise, and at least for the moment it appears to be falling on deaf ears.
Sizing up 2024 and Beyond
Many industry participants would like to put 2023 behind us and move on to a fresh New Year. We are still dealing with far too much fretted instrument inventory chasing fewer customers with disposable income, and other product sectors have not found buoyancy in terms of supply and demand. With inflation numbers continuing to improve and prices at the pump going down, hopefully 2024 will be the year that our overall business finds some level of normalcy. For now, it’s time to batten down the hatches and do our best to get our products front and center in the mind and hands of the consumer. Regardless of the number of distractions, fundamentals remain for a sales representative – show up, follow up, endear yourself to your customers and support them vigorously. That means making sure you are dispensing solid advice from a “trusted advisor” helping dealers spend their inventory dollars with the companies that have stood by them in difficult times. Good service never gets old or goes bad – let’s all keep that in mind as we drive to the Holiday finish line. And as far as communicating back to me, I’m available via email, phone, text, Facebook & Instagram messenger, LinkedIn, and always ready to come out and meet you in person, which remains the most satisfying way to interact.