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Complimenting My Guitar…

On Sunday, WalMart complimented my guitar, while Target did not.  Those who have heard me play would probably ask “why anyone would compliment my guitar?” No I am not talking about the “nice playing” type of compliment, but rather the idea of selling complimentary products.  This concept was illustrated to me over the weekend as I made trips to both big box retailers.  Allow me to explain.

Sunday morning the family and I headed to Target to pick up some groceries.  We typically pick up the stuff in cans and boxes at Target because it is substantially cheaper that anywhere else – not to mention Target often  has some cool new items to check out.   Well, as we made our way through the store, I remembered that I was in need of a new guitar cord.  The old one shorted out.  So, knowing that they have a few instruments in the back corner of the store, I assumed that surely they would have what I needed.  Alas I was mistaken…

Now the point of this post is not about Target, WalMart, or any other specific retailer.  I just use them to illustrate a point about something I observed.  Target had amplifiers, keyboards, electric guitars, tuners, and even guitar effects pedals, but they did not have a guitar cord.  This would seem to be an assumptive sale for anyone purchasing any of the aforementioned products, as they all require cords to work.  Thus Target is not only leaving easy money on the table by not carrying guitar cords, they are going to force me to go elsewhere to get it.

Now I have personally have a guitar, but if I were in the market for a low end, new guitar, such as the ones they stock, I would now be forced to comparison shop with Target.  Even if I bought the guitar and amplifier at Taret, the need for a cord would take me to another store.  The other store would then have the opportunity through pricing, salesmanship, and promotion to talk me out of the Target purchase.   Suppose I drove around the corner to Guitar Center and discovered a better guitar for less, a more sophisticated amplifier for roughly the same amount, and the cord that I needed to make them work.  Now, suppose the sales professional is good enough to ask what the cord is for, and I tell him about my experience.  If that person were smart they could say something like – “Why don’t you buy the same guitar and amp here and I’ll throw in the cord for free – just return the other one for a refund at Target.”  Now they built customer loyalty, made a sale, and screwed the competition in the process.

Back to my story about Sunday.  The family and I had to run an errand later in the day that took us to WalMart – somewhere I rarely visit.  Again, I thought to look for the guitar cord, assuming that if Target sold instruments, so would WalMart.  I found some instruments in the Toy Section and there along side them was a guitar cord… which I bought.

Admittedly it was a convenience purchase.  I buy most musical gear at a music store.  Still, this story highlights the importance of complimentary products.  What do you sell that requires a complimentary product to make it work.  Could you offer something additional to keep people from going elsewhere?