Mike Robinson is the VP of Marketing for KHS America, the parent company behind Jupiter Band Instruments, XO Professional Brass, Mapex Drums, Hohner Harmonicas and many other brands. I have had the privilege of getting to know Mike since he came on board with the company a little over five years ago.
It was great to get to sit down with someone like Mike who is at the absolute top of their field. He helped shed some light on exactly what branding is and the many different aspects of marketing. This interview was intentionally light on the mechanics of marketing (which Mike pointed out are constantly changing and widely available around the internet) and focused on a more philosophical level which I found both fascinating and really, really helpful.
He had my brain churning (and it still is!)
- How a family connection and a lifelong love of playing music eventually led him into music products as a profession
- How his first job in the business was on the production line making drum heads along with 35 Dominican women and how his knowledge of drums and hard work led him within six months to a job as the research and development coordinator
- Why reasearch and development/product development is a part of marketing
- Why it takes more than just a great product to market it well
- The value of taking a subject you're not too familiar with and over time through experience and sometimes tough love developing some level of mastery of the subject
- How the tough lessons never stop during your career and the importance of embracing that
- How rolling with the punches as a parent is similar to being an entrepreneur
- That branding done well is a company or person communicating who they are not just what they sell
- How he went about rebranding Jupiter Band Instruments
- How the number of musicians in the United States has plateaued and the effect that has had on the music industry
- The detailed research Jupiter has done to learn more about their different customer bases in an effort to reach them more effectively
- Why your personal brand is heavily influenced by your behavior
- How you never know who you are talking to (and how much influence they may have in your field)
- The potential problem with reading books on marketing mechanics
- The importance of examining the bigger questions before digging into marketing mechanics
"It's those challenges and tough lessons that make you who you are. The illusion that at some point you'll acheive a level of life where those tough lessons stop is really just that, it's an illusion. For anyone who is even remotely self-aware, those lessons can and should continue."
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Produced by Austin Boyer of FredBrass