Highlights from the EH Expo Marketing Boot Camp

By Coleen Sterns

Basic training is required for success in any discipline, and marketing is no exception. At the Spring Electronic Home (EH) Expo Spring in Orlando, dealers had the opportunity to learn how to successfully market their installation businesses from some of the industry’s leading experts. The instructors included Joseph Piccirilli, managing director of AVAD LLC; Carol Campbell, publisher of Audio Video Interiors; Spencer Kalker, president of ImageCrafters; Michael Detmer, vice president of sales and marketing at Niles Audio Corporation; and myself, Coleen Sterns, president of Marketing Matters. If you weren’t there, you missed a good one,

Effective marketing is critical to initial and continued success of any systems integration business. It ultimately determines the growth potential of a company. This program targeted the three Ps of marketing — product, pricing and promotion — to provide the basic concepts and tools for efficacy, and left the attending dealers with solid plans to implement what they had learned. Interaction between speakers and dealers was encouraged, and was a significant reason for the session’s success. Participants were encouraged to ask questions, share their experiences and were, at times, prodded for input. This was a boot camp, after all.

Promotion was the first topic at hand, and my section of the presentation discussed the basic marketing tools needed for a systems-integration specialist. Dealers learned how to determine their marketing goals, set budgets and create marketing materials that generate sales. The focus was put on selling benefits, not features, to their clients. It may be obvious to say, but its always worth repeating — end-users don’t care about distributed audio, they care about music everywhere.

The importance of selling the company, rather than specific products, to clients was also driven home. After all, it’s the dealer’s image that closes the sale. Very few clients, if any, care who manufactures the volume controls they use. They want to know that when they push a button it will work, and it is the dealer they rely upon for the technical savvy and experience to make those product decisions. You’re selling confidence as well as products.

What do women want from a systems integrator? Carol Campbell knows — and now many dealers do, too. This neglected, yet incredibly powerful market segment purchases over 80 percent of all consumer and business goods. Women head over 40 percent of households with assets over $600,000. Again, benefits-selling was the message driven home. So, what do women want? Simply ask them, and then carefully listen to what they say!

“You are what you are,” began Joseph Piccirilli in his dynamic presentation on product, pricing and competition. Joe asked the dealers to look at who they are — what makes them unique, why they started their businesses and why they should continue to exist. He emphasized the need to stick to their core values, because this ultimately determines how and where a dealer will market the brands they sell, the prices they charge and who their customer will be. This soul-searching session reiterated the fact that the dealer is the brand.

As the custom-installation/systems-integration market matures, more dealers are considering establishing showrooms to display their capabilities. Spencer Kalker, a leading guru on this topic, spoke about determining when the time is right for a showroom. Dealers need to evaluate their goals, the risk (or the risk not to), internal systems, and financial position to name a few considerations. It’s a big commitment; does the dealer’s marketing plans and image support the investment into this business model?

We would never expect our dealers to leave without a plan. Thus, Mike Detmer defined the objectives of a marketing plan — customer acquisition, customer retention and growing the business. The pros and cons of the individual components — advertising, public relations, event marketing, promotions, support materials and the Internet — were discussed in detail. Special emphasis on public relations, or free advertising, was the focus of the workshop in this session. This hands-on exercise showed how a very low time and money investment could provide a very high return on recognition and credibility in the dealers’ markets. What more can you ask for?

Don’t worry if you missed this marketing boot camp — there will be an encore presentation held at the EH Expo this November in Long Beach, California. Look for more information at www.ehexpo.com. We look forward to seeing you there!

In the interim, please feel free to contact any of the instructors.

• Coleen Stearns, coleen@marketingmatters.net

• Carol Campbell, carol.campbell@primedia.com

• Joseph Piccarilli, joepic@gate.net

• Spencer Kalker, spencer@imagecraftersinc.com

• Mike Detmer, mdetmer@nilesaudio.com.

We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Coleen Sterns is the president of Marketing Matters, a professional integrated marketing communications and creative services company that specializes in the specialty audio/video and systems integration industries. Coleen is also the executive director of the Independent Professional Representatives Organization (IPRO).

Original Source: technologyintegrator.net