What do pancakes and Disney movies have to do with growing your music store business?
Plum Grove Music, will tell you that their pancake socials (cleverly referred to as IPLUMM, a nod to IHOP) are all about building a sense of community for their music students.
“[Community] can completely set your business apart from every other company in the field. . . .[it can] give [customers] a sense of belonging and make them feel an incredible bond with your company.”
Their “Pancake Pileup” is just one of many events (including Disney-themed concerts, holiday caroling, and musical showcases at restaurants and nursing homes) that the Lowell, Indiana, band and orchestra store organizes to create exceptional experiences for its music students, aged 2 – 72.
“It has to be fun,” states owner Rick Thacker in the October 2018 issue of Music Inc. That’s because they know that they’re competing with many other programs like art classes, little league, and ballet.
But their formula for fun has also turned out to be a formula for success. Since opening its 3000 sq. ft. space in 2015, Plum Grove Music continues to enroll lesson students from communities in Northwest Indiana and the Chicago suburbs. “People talk about it,” Thacker said. “It continues to grow.”
How Customer Communities Can Benefit Your Music Brand
Did you know that the Harley-Davidson brand faced extinction in 1983? But 25 years later, the company was listed as a top-50 global brand valued at $7.8 billion.
Can you guess the key to the company’s turnaround and the success that followed? According to Harvard Business Review, “It was their commitment to building a brand community: a group of ardent consumers organized around the lifestyle, activities, and ethos of the brand.”
Too often, brands forget that consumers are people who have many different needs, interests, and responsibilities. True community-based brands are focused on building loyalty by helping people meet their needs.
“Robust communities are built not on brand reputation but on an understanding of members’ lives.”
Plum Grove Music understands this concept and has gone so far as to make it their company mantra to put students needs first. In addition to giving their customers opportunities to socialize with other music students and participate in musical showcases, they are dedicated to ensuring their success by renting them the highest quality instruments available. “We just want to . . . give people amazing experiences,” states Thacker.
“When you do community right, it’s not an add-on to your business, it IS your business.”
Businesses, like Plum Grove Music, that succeed at creating a sense of community for their customers enjoy benefits such as :
- Increased Customer Loyalty – members feel like they’re a part of a movement instead of just being a customer
- The Opportunity to scale products and marketplaces – the community is contributing to the value
- Better Chance of finding/maintaining product-market fit – you’re constantly learning from your community members and can adapt your direction according to their changing needs
- Free marketing – your community shares positive information about your brand
- Differentiation from competitors – they can copy your product, but they’ll never be able to copy your community
While any business can benefit from creating a sense of community around their brand, many companies can’t pull it off as well as Plum Grove Music has.
It requires an organization-wide commitment and a determination to focus on the customers’ needs first. Is your music store up to the task?
“Through commitment, engagement, and support, companies can cultivate brand communities that deliver powerful returns,” says Harvard Business Review. “When you get community right, the benefits are irrefutable.”
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Also published on Medium.