Certain retail businesses are more likely than others to attract knowledgeable salespeople. The cashier at Target ringing up your car floor mats, laundry detergent, flip flops and deodorant is not likely to be particularly enthused about or expert on any of the items.
On the other hand, the guy selling you a new Harley-Davidson Super Glide Custom is almost certainly a biker. You wouldn’t want to buy one from someone who wasn’t. He’s selling bikes because he loves them and loves riding and wants to share that passion with you.
Employees who are passionate about what they sell – whether it’s tropical fish, quilting supplies or snowmobiles — can help your marketing. Guitar Center, the national music store chain, hires musicians in each of its 220+ stores and it’s not unusual for customers to turn to the clerks for advice about everything from guitar strings to the relative merits of Zildjian vs Paragon cymbals.
Questions turn into discussions turn into swapped advice and news about whose band is playing where this weekend and who’s looking to add a keyboard player to their lineup. As a result, the stores become more than just a place to buy a new pedal or mic stand; they become resources and hangouts for musicians.
Guitar Center has taken the next logical step by posting the photos, bios and expertise of employees at each store online and inviting people to email them questions. By positioning their employees as experts and not merely salespeople, the company accomplishes the following:
- It establishes itself as an authoritative resource.
- It humanizes itself in the eyes of consumers who can see online that Jeff is a guy who really knows recording equipment.
- It lets music-loving customers see what they have in common with the salespeople and, by extension, the brand.
- It creates goodwill by offering free advice to people who aren’t in a store.
Well played, Guitar Center.