Proving that Music Matters
Leon Shaw, president of Raleigh, N.C.’s Audio Advice, says he likes to host what he calls “mini CESes” for his customers every two or three months—with emphasis on presentations by cooperating vendors, and on education rather than on sales (which usually come later, as byproducts of this approach). One very successful “mini” show he ran over the course of eight hours split into two evenings proved that high-end audio can still be a draw in and of itself, if a dealer is willing to give the category its due with a receptive clientele. This soft-sell tactic, dubbed “Music Matters” and “devoted exclusively to the reproduction of music,” was promoted with a four-color postcard touting 40-minute presentations with participants including Stereophile’s John Atkinson and high-level executives from Musical Fidelity, Mark Levinson, Lexicon, Classé, B&W, Wilson Audio and Transparent Audio. The evenings, catered with high-end libations and punctuated by prize-giving, attracted 160 attendees, according to Shaw, and not only stirred up interest in high-end among aficionados; they also “jazzed up our retail sales floor. Within the quarter, this event caused our audio sales to go up 55 percent over the previous four-month period.” Shaw says he is prepping a video event that will happen before the end of the year, in line with the remodeling of his store’s large theater room. One caveat Shaw stresses, from firsthand experience, is to make sure to review presenters’ content beforehand; through experience, he has found that “taking a look at the material, if you have a presenter whom you’ve never seen present before,” is always safer than being unhappily surprised by content that may prove too lengthy or too technical.