By Tracy Leenman, Musical Innovations, LLC
In recent years, some retailers – and publishers – have stopped exhibiting at state MEA’s for various reasons. But we believe that our state MEAs are among the most potentially significant, positive, and yes, exciting, events of the year for our company. What better opportunity will you have all year to talk with educators outside their classrooms, away from the daily grind? To meet educators who are not already your customers, and present your company’s services to them? To observe your competitors and suppliers at work? And don’t forget the pre-service teachers? Where else will you get to meet them and plant seeds in their minds for future business? This is your chance to put faces with names and show attendees why they should do business with you.
Your state MEA conference should be high-visibility time. Plan in advance for a display that is attractive, colorful and representative of the full range of your company’s services. Bring the latest products and new issues, and construct attractive displays that create an excitement about purchasing. You may want to sponsor a session on a new publication (e.g. method book series), and partner with the publisher to bring in a clinician with your company listed as the co-sponsor. It’s also a great time to move any clearance music (we bring bags and sell clearance music for $1 per bag-full). Be sure to emphasize that you are more than just “a place to buy stuff,” but that you are a valuable resource and can benefit their company much more than ordering online would.
As soon as the conference schedule becomes available, study it carefully. See what sessions will be presenting what material and be sure you will have plenty on hand. You may want to volunteer to be the “designated dealer” for various sessions or for publishers who don’t sell directly to consumers at the show. That way, those who inquire will be sent your way. At the very least, be sure to touch base with the publishers and let them know you will be there representing them, and they are welcome to send potential customers your way.
With a little planning and a little effort, you’ll find that enthusiasm and excitement are contagious – that your booth can quickly become “the place to be” for your state educators. And that your staff and customers – and your potential new customers – can enjoy learning from each other and building stronger relationships with each other.