Marketing versus Sales

Drill Hole / Bit
Drill Hole / Bit

Early on in the beginning years of Woodstock Chimes, I attended a talk given by a marketing executive of the Stanley Tool Company. I walked away with a very important message. He explained the difference between marketing and sales using a simple drill bit. Basically, he said that they sell drill bits but they market the hole made by the drill bit. It was one of those “aha” moments for me. From then on I realized I was selling windchimes but marketing the sound created by those chimes. For me the most important aspect of our product is the way they sound. The second most important feature is the way they look. However, whether you are looking at them or not, you would hear them playing every time a breeze activated them. So, from the very beginning, many marketing considerations focused on the sound of our products.

Garry and Diane Kvistad Cincinnati Craft Fair in 1979
Garry and Diane Kvistad Cincinnati Craft Fair in 1979

As a musician, I make sure that the chimes are not only musically and historically accurate but produce the best and most exciting sounds possible. Simply put, to achieve this, the scale or melodies of the chimes and the accurate tuning must be carefully executed. I also realized early on that my contribution here is to ensure that this level of quality is always primary in the development and production of all of our products. I also want to convey this quality through our marketing efforts. This includes the information found on our website, the hangtags of each product, our printed literature and the information available to all of our sales force and retail partners.

Betsy Harrington, Senior VP, Sales

Another realization early on was that the best sales people had clearly defined skills which I felt I lacked. So while I continued my marketing effort, I let those best suited to sell my musical designs do so. The first great sales person was my wife, Diane. From the very beginning, as we traveled we would search out stores we felt were a good match for our chimes. While I sat in the car, Diane would go inside and brag about what I had created. Musicians don’t take well to the audience booing and I never accepted rejection well from a buyer. A good salesperson, does not take it personally and moves on. Sometimes, however, it takes many attempts to be successful. I guess I am not very patient when it comes to this. Luckily Diane is, and so is Betsy Harrington, our incredible sales manager.

Garry and Stacey Bowers, Executive VP, at the NY International Gift Fair in 1983
Garry and Stacey Bowers, Executive VP, at the NY International Gift Fair in 1983

In the first year of business, we visited a local shop specializing in handmade crafts. Diane talked to the owner in the store (yes, I was outside in the car) and showed her our Chimes of Olympos, the only product that we were making at that time. The owner immediately said this was not something they could sell and turned us down. Diane then left the store followed by one of their customers. Out on the street the customer said just how much she loved the sound of the product and wanted to know where she could buy one. Luckily, Diane just happened to have one to sell her. While the rejection from the store owner was tough, the reaction from the customer was encouraging. Diane did not give up, approaching the store every year until the buyer finally decided to give it a try three years later. We have been selling to this account for over 30 years and it continues to be one of our best accounts.

Diane and Garry Kvistad at the NY International Gift Fair in 2007
Diane and Garry Kvistad at the NY International Gift Fair in 2007

This situation happened over and over. Whenever I am on a musical tour, I try to visit the stores in the area that carry our products. It does take an effort for me to introduce myself unannounced. Diane always encourages me to do this and so, one time I was in Minneapolis and visited an account there. It was a large store with many Woodstock Chimes hanging all over. I approached the young clerk at the counter and introduced myself saying, “Hi, I’m Garry Kvistad and I own Woodstock Chimes.” She looked at me and simply replied, “a lot of people own Woodstock Chimes,” and turned away. This is one of the reasons I don’t feel well-suited as a sales person. I think I’ll stick to design and marketing!

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