Perspectives from the Big Stage
By, Larry Bailin, Keynote Speaker, Best-Selling Author, CEO.

Keynote Speaker

On Friday, July 10th, at 8:40 am I walked onto the Big Stage at the Summer NAMM Show in front of a packed house at the iconic Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee. 

By the time I left NAMM, I was called a marketing genius by an Angel, inducted into a pack of Werewolves, taught to play a few guitar chords by a Buddy; and I had enough promotional guitar picks to last an eternity.

I was hired by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) back in April to be their breakfast keynote. I was to espouse the virtues of marketing in a digital world. Teach droves of music industry veterans and newbies alike, how to escape the success-stifling confines of Average Marketing.

I think it’s relevant to mention that I have no musical ability. Up until a few days before I took the stage as a headliner at one of the largest conferences in the music industry, when I heard the word “fret” I assumed someone was concerned. 

I walked from the greenroom, to the backstage prep area, up a few stairs, through the curtain, emerging onto a world class stage run by a veritable army of production people. There I was, center stage facing a standing room with a crowd only filled with music retailers, manufacturers, distributors, artists and other industry insiders from around the country.

My job was to get these people to take their digital marketing seriously. I thought I had my work cut out for me, I mean some of these people were quite literally, looking at the world through rose colored glasses.

I started out by giving them a number of reasons to dislike me. I told them I had no musical talent, I was from Jersey (that usually does it), and I would talk fast and take no questions. I even called them out on their average marketing, showing them how Amazon was exploiting their shortcomings and how even Papa John’s Pizza was better at digital marketing than they were. Despite my best attempts, they liked me, they really, really liked me!

Keynote Speaker Summer NAMMSo why did an audience of rock stars end up considering me, well, a rock star?

Here are the top five takeaways from my presentation as shared with me by audience members.

  1. “Your ability to tailor significant portions of your presentation explicitly to us, really made it relatable. I felt like you really got it.”
    – BACK STORY:
    Large amounts of my presentation were specifically related to happenings I observed at the NAMM Show within 24 hours of getting on stage. Some of my slides were added less than one hour before I stepped out from behind the curtain. Keeping a presentation in-the-moment, keeps you sharp and makes a better connection with the audience.

    – TAKEAWAY:  Always make it about them.

  2. “The observation of what happens when an industry that requires hearing – ceases to listen, was so spot on!”
    – BACK STORY:
    Most industries are so wrapped up in the day-to-day of business that they tend to stop looking outward. In this case, the example given showed that amazon identified that music retailers were not listening to the consumers. Droves of wannabe musicians were looking for “beginner” instruments yet the largest instrument retailers had no clear answer for this category. Amazon came along and built an entire beginners section into their website and now dominates the segment.

    TAKEAWAY: Never stop listening.

  3. “When you said the future was yesterday, I felt a wave of understanding come over me.”
    – BACK STORY:
    The world does not wait for you to get around to things. Innovation has never moved at greater speeds than it does today. While you’re contemplating the value of social media or SEO, innovators are leveraging: Omni channel marketing, wearables, cross device tracking, micro-moments, Internet of things, augmented reality and a slew of other emerging marketing vehicles.

    – TAKEAWAY:  Those who wait until tomorrow, risk dying today.

  4. “490 exhibitors who don’t know why their here… 1 that does. –that observation, sent a chill down my spine.”
    – BACK STORY:
    I walked the show floor at NAMM the day before I took the stage while I still had some anonymity. I walked every isle, passed every exhibitor, and out of 490 exhibitors, only one made the effort to engage me. 489 exhibitors thought their job was to be there, as if they were a part of the booth, like a stool or carpet. One exhibitor realized the purpose for being there was to sell. To evangelize the brand, further the cause, touch as many people as possible and as an inevitable result of the effort, move the revenue needle forward.

    -TAKEAWAY: Selling is more than just talking people into buying. It is everyone’s job to further the cause, introducing people to your value and making meaningful connections. It must be clear to everyone, we all must sell… Always.

  5. “Marketing is about winning – that quote changed my life!”
    – BACK STORY: So much of the marketing decision process is driven by just getting the task completed, where checking it off a list is touted as a victory. This type of checkbox mentality leads to engaging inferior marketing methods and not paying attention to the principals that are critical to success. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: Methods are many, principals are few. Methods always change, principals seldom do.
    – TAKEAWAY: Winning is hard. The easy way is seldom the correct path. If you’re going to do something, do something that leads to something.

Speaking at Summer NAMM was a wonderful experience. The accolades continue to roll in, days after I’ve left Nashville, which means I did my job. I left everyone a little better, a little smarter, a little better equipped than they were before they met me.

Thank you NAMM – This rock star thing is pretty cool.