Why ‘Hello Music’ Can’t Live Without its Proprietary Gross Margin Report

We’ve got another ‘One Thing’ Q&A for you – this week coming from Rick Camino, CEO of Hello Music. It’s is a daily deals site that grants musicians and enthusiasts deep discounts on limited quantities of instruments and gear, studio time, and other valuable music services.

Rick Camino

It’s unique because it’s a technology company that takes its knack for techno and music to a social level too, and really capitalizes on data, in a big band (hair band?)  kinda way.

Rock it out Rick…

1. As an online marketer and retailer, what’s something you can’t live without? And we don’t mean coffee. We mean anything from a technology tool to a partner to a cool trick you do on Excel to a coworker. Anything you think your job would be impossible to do without…

I can’t live with out my Hello Music Gross Margin report. It’s a real-time proprietary key performance indicator (KPI) tool that measures conversions at every level of Hello Music’s marketing and sales funnel – from marketing reach down to daily forecasted gross margin. I run it 20x per day and this is how I drive daily on-the-field play calling.

For example, I use it at 9 a.m. to understand our morning email open rate and product click-thru’s as soon as buying opens for the day. At 10 a.m., I use it to optimize merchandise presentation and pricing. At 11 a.m., we already have enough data to predict the day’s sales and margin and then use that data to optimize the afternoon’s planned product and marketing mix.

2. Can you explain what this is – if necessary?

We’ve created custom software that pulls in data from every corner of Hello Music’s e-tail operations – from site visits to email clicks and even incorporating customers on our mobile apps – to give us an overarching view of retail operations quickly and effectively.

3. Why can you NOT live without this?

I drive the entire organization activity with a KPI tree. We have quantitative and qualitative measurements for everything we do, and clearly understand how it all rolls up through the organization to create value for musicians, the industry and our shareholders. Everything we do is a balanced combination of art and science. My Gross Margin report is *the* cog in the wheel of Hello Music’s science.

4. How often do you use it and how long have you been using it?

I have been using a version of the report since our launch in April 2011. In the early days, it was raw data that I had to format by hand in Excel. Now, it is an automated real-time report that pulls data from several different sources. It gets more and more refined over time and is a powerful tool for everyone in our organization.

5. If lightning struck tomorrow and you suddenly didn’t have this one thing, what would you do to improvise?

I’d fall back on instinct. I have developed a pretty good instinct based on the cumulative data and analysis done to date. I have lots of legacy knowledge to pull from if I need to make an on the field audible with limited info. Plus, Hello Music is an online commerce community for musicians, and as a long-time musician and advocate of musicians myself, I have a lifetime worth of buyer-side instinct that helps mold decisions when data alone doesn’t suffice.

6. How can other people get this too?

Data seems to be plentiful nowadays, but insight from that data is why you need a great quantitative team. To get the most out of your data, your company needs folks who both understand the market and are good analysts (or can be trained to be). It always comes down to team, and I am incredibly fortunate to have a superstar group supporting me.

BONUS: And what’s the non-work related thing you can’t do your job without? This is where the coffee, or anything else comes in…

My iPhone. I am constantly multi-tasking. Being able to email and text at the same time has been vital to keeping tabs on different prongs of business – not to mention the mobility factor!