Old trick No. 235: Be useful

What is it about those indy record shops that makes them such havens when you’re young and exploring your taste or, in my case, older and trying to retain some semblance of a connection with contemporary music? What Rocking Horse in Brisbane and Rough Trade in Notting Hill share is an element of really useful editorial guidance.

This guidance includes notes stuck onto the covers of recent releases, often with the staff opinion of the album and comparisons with other artists so that you can contextualise them. There are 5 recent releases playing on the listening post, there’s two decks so you can have alisten to your vinyl considerations. The walls are also covered in sueful info; posters for upcoming gigs and very crudley designed lists fo 2005′s best releases in various categories.

At the till the staff have strong opinions and are very keen to dscuss the details of a latest release or recommend something based on your preferences, “yeah – its good if you like Badly Drawn Boy..but not if you don’t.l.really.”

The result is that as a customer I am prepared to wander well outside of my comfort zone because I feel I have a trusted guide. I am grateful, and loyal, to the store for providing me with that guidance. In fact in the pursuit of this article I had intended to purhcase Beck’s latest offering and Luna’s ‘Best Of’ compilation. Instead £20 turned into £40 because I heard Yo La Tengo’s newest release playing in the store and Hot Chip’s Coming on Strong, was recommended at the till (on request) based on my Beck selection.

It’s something brands should remember when they associate themselves with content areas. Just making an association with a content area really isn’t good enough. If you want to be remembered, regarded – or even just not ignored – be useful. It’s not a new trick but it’s something that brands can potentially do really well online.

A recent example is the Property Panel from HSBC.

HSBC have gathered together a group of experts from the propert industry and are publishing a series of weekly webcasts of relevant information from qualified, independent experts. Relevant. Useful. And from a bank.

2 responses to “Old trick No. 235: Be useful”

  1. faris

    Check out Nokia Music Recommender for a global version of the independent record shop…

  2. Asi

    Brand-Utility.
    A buzz word in the making. its all about value to the consumer and its beyond branded entertainment. Something tangible, useful and reusable that plays a more integral part in the consumer’s life.

    like Verison beatbox mixer :http://www.beatboxmixer.com/

    or Mitsubish Avalanche weekend http://avalancheweekends.msn.com

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