Canadian Music Trade - December-January 2022 - Page 29

came to realize that people cared about way more than just the product itself . They cared about how the product made them feel , and they cared about who was selling the product to them . I actually saw the values-based strategy at work in real time , along with the positive results that came with it .”
One of the things that MI companies have going for them – whether they be retailers , distributors , or manufacturers – is that music is core to their customers ’ identities . So maybe even more so than if they were selling mattresses , their music-loving customers are primed to connect with a company ’ s professed values . Stafford understands this well , having built his marketing career in the music world , first with MTV and then Black Entertainment Television , before becoming a regional promotions manager with A & M Records prior to launching Organiksol Marketing .
“ In our industry , we are in the business of dreams . We ’ re in the business of emotions and creativity . So , it ’ s far different than making tires or semiconductors . Because of that , I ’ ve found that the customers in our industry are inclined to know as much about the company as the product they are interested in purchasing . They want to know , ‘ Who are you ? How do you treat your workers ?’ And it ’ s not just in music , this same scrutiny is occurring across multiple industries just about anywhere you look .”
The very present risk , however , is being exposed as disingenuous . In the world of marketing – now more than ever – if customers see you saying one thing and doing another , your marketing won ’ t just not work , it ’ ll significantly harm your business . “ I have a major client who wanted to tout their support of environmental causes . While laudable , I don ’ t think even the client would say that sustainability is one of their ‘ values ’ and the last thing any business wants is to defend a position that they may be ill-prepared to do so .”
And in the age of virtuous movements like Black Lives Matter and # MeToo , as well as the fight against climate change , and combined with social media , customers are ( justifiably ) on the lookout for companies who co-opt the language of justice and values while behaving hypocritically .
But , like we said , the point here is not to scare you off . If the company is earnest , honest , and committed , values-based marketing can be enormously beneficial . To implement this approach properly , Stafford says there are four steps to take .
Of course , the first piece of the puzzle to solve is , what are the company ’ s values ? In independent MI stores , or small regional chains , this question generally starts with owners and management . There is a whole plethora of things it could be , from social justice to the environment to education , community safety , food security , youth sports , and on and on . What ’ s most important to figure out is this : what makes you passionate and motivated ? This marketing approach will take time and commitment , so it has to be something that really motivates you – not something that just looks good to others . Almost as important , then , is to know what your employees care about . Where is there overlap in the values of the owner , manager , and employees ? In small retail stores , the employees carry your message into the community , so they better believe in the values , too .
The second piece is figuring out what your customers ’ values are . Stafford acknowledges that this can be difficult to know , but points out that small retailers actually have an advantage here . Unlike a major corporation and national chain , a small retailer shares a deeper connection with their community . Stafford notes that a good owner or manager should have a pretty good understanding of their customers simply through daily interactions . As well , their employees are members of the community , too , so ask them !
The third step is , “ once you ’ ve settled on a value-based marketing message , review it against your company values for authenticity .” Be brutally honest with yourself , because if the values message does not motivate you as an owner or manager , you ’ re not going to stick with it or go allin . Also , remember this , if you ’ re disingenuous or hypocritical , your employees will know and they ’ ll be the first to tell your customers , notes Stafford .
After you have a values-based message you ’ re committed to , Stafford says , ask yourself : “ Is my message clear , concise , and honest ? Will it resonate with key customers or your target markets ?” You ’ ll also want to ask yourself ( and answer honestly ); do you have the bandwidth for this ? Remember , the message needs to be backed up with action . If you ’ re attaching your brand to a message focused on education , then you better be doing something to help improve education in your community . “ It doesn ’ t need to be something that takes a lot of time , but it ’ s going to take some time . Having worked in retail , I know how hard adding additional responsibilities can be . Sometimes it can take everything just to run the store each day and put out that monthly ad ,” Stafford says .
Stafford ’ s fourth and final piece to implementing values-based marketing : track and measure . “ Some of the basic ways a values-based marketing campaign can be measured include sales , website traffic , and social media followers / engagement . These numbers are pretty straight-forward ; success or failure will be fairly apparent ,” Stafford explains . If possible , limit competing sales and campaigns to help you figure out whether what you ’ re doing is working or not .
“ One of the reasons I was looking forward to talking to you is because I care about our industry and the people who work in it ,” Stafford tells me as we wrap up our conversation . “ Our business is filled with people not just working for a living , but working to make the world a better place . In sharing a little about ‘ values-based marketing ’ it offers a way for companies to potentially not only do good business , but nurture closer ties with their community . That is a very powerful , winning combination .”
Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Musician Trade .