I learned how to oil a trombone and assemble a flute. I listened to a new, school band-friendly arrangement of the classic Pink Panther score and swayed as a professional musician demo’d a saxophone. And I did it all from my desk in about 30 minutes.
That’s just a tiny sampling of the vast amount of video content Music & Arts has available on its website – all part of a goal to create stickiness between the brand and its customers: music students, their parents, adult music enthusiasts, music instructors, and band and orchestra directors.
They save the customer the trouble of going to another website to look for information on how an instrument looks or sounds. “We want them to be able make a decision right there on the product page,” says Renier Fee, Music & Arts Marketing Director. “Being able to hear the sound is part of kicking the tires.’’
It’s also helping Music & Arts sell a lot of product. “We saw a 10% sales increase if you compare 2015 (SKUs with video) vs. 2014 (same SKUs without video),” Fee says. And the content marketing effort has not gone unnoticed. Music & Arts is a finalist for Best Product Video of the Year in the Internet Retailer Excellence Awards competition hosted by Internet Retailer magazine.
A family-run business, Music & Arts was founded in 1952 and has grown steadily. It has 144 retail locations, 360 affiliate locations, a very deep website and an extensive ecommerce program.
Fee says he knows that music customers are quick to search online for product information, whether it’s the sound of a flute they are thinking of buying or an arrangement they are considering for the orchestra they direct. Fee didn’t want customers leaving their site to do that. So with help from Creative Manager Tara Davis, they began producing videos. The videos include pretty straightforward “how-to” clips using Music & Arts employees or instructors like this one who tells a beginning trombone player how to oil her instrument, which I’m sure helped settle a few parent/child debates over proper instrument care.
The company also started using content from its partner, Hal Leonard. These ScorePlay videos feature audio of what an arrangement sounds like with video of the score. Every high school band director knows what the Pink Panther score sounds like, but what does this particular arrangement sound – and look – like? That’s what ScorePlay offers.
Music & Arts is an award finalist for its work producing product videos that feature mostly new instruments. With its own video production studio at its headquarters in Frederick, Maryland, it produces 50 videos a month, with a goal of building its library of videos “into the thousands. We are trying to create a resource destination,’’ Fee says.
Converting Content Into Commerce
In deciding to invest in video for content marketing, Fee looked at research by companies like Invodo, which consults on and produces product video. Invodo’s research suggests video viewers are 1.7 times more likely to buy a product than non-viewers.
Music & Arts sends the video links in emails segmented by customer preference. A family that rents a trombone will receive emails with links to videos featuring new trombones available for rent. A musician who buys sheet music for flutes might get a video link about a new flute. And a high school band director who recommends instruments to students might see links to the latest videos for products suitable for teenage musicians.
They’ve even optimized the videos for watching on any device, as they know customers might look at a video while shopping in a store. They also repackage the videos and run them on televisions in their stores, and they point customers to them from their direct mail efforts.
Building the Brand
The videos haven’t just drawn in customers; they are a huge hit with Music & Arts vendors.
“Every vendor that has come to shoot a video wants to come back. They view it as mutually beneficial,” Davis said. The studio is booked out two months in advance and has hosted well-known artists, such as saxophonist James Carter playing on and discussing the merits of the brand of saxophone he uses professionally.
Content marketers want to be able to reuse and repurpose content. This might be doubly true for video content, which is more costly to produce. Music & Arts does just that. Their sister brand, Woodwind & Brasswind, is popular with slightly more serious brass and woodwind players. Davis “reskins” the videos to match Woodwind & Brasswind colors and brand identity.
The company has other video initiatives as well. Its B-Side series interviews musicians who talk about the value of music education and the role parents and music instructors played in their lives. And it is working on building its brands through videos. The Hold On video that anchors its YouTube page touches on the emotions of learning and playing music. “We’re really just getting started,’’ Fee says. “We want to be a destination for resources on training and instruction.”
What would Fee suggest to commerce marketers interested in using video? “Test, and use that as a guide for a larger investment.’’